5 Historic Downtown Buildings to Explore

By Cecilia Harris on April 28, 2020

Share lessons on Abilene history with your family by walking, biking, or driving by these five sites downtown that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an official list of the country's historic places worthy of preservation. Learn about architecture as well by looking for unique features like colored tiles, finials (distinctive ornaments along the roofline), sculptures, and masonry medallions and arches over windows and doorways.

1. Hotel Sunflower, 409 Northwest Third Street

Sunflower-Hotel-Abilene,KS
From the hotel’s balcony (since removed), then-General Dwight D. Eisenhower watched a parade held in honor of his homecoming in 1952. When in Abilene, Eisenhower sometimes stayed at and attended dinners in the ballroom of the eight-story, red brick art deco hotel built in 1931.

2. United Building, 300 North Cedar Street

United-Building-Abilene,KS
Following a disastrous flood, Cleyson L. Brown purchased this building constructed in 1887 and it was known as the Brown Building until his telephone company changed its name to United in 1911. United Companies (telephone and electric utilities) expanded the structure in 1927; the company later became United Telecommunications, known today as Sprint.

3. Perring Building, 115 Northwest Third and 118 Northwest Second Streets

Perring-Building-Abilene,KS
Built from 1902 to 1904 by Leslie Perring, who operated a restaurant in the basement, this building with Italianate and Romanesque style influences was the last of seven buildings constructed in a trapezoidal block referred to as the Post Office Block.

4. Abilene Union Pacific Railroad Passenger Depot, Northwest Second and Broadway Streets

Union-Pacific-Depot-Abilene,KS

In 1911, Dwight D. Eisenhower departed from this site for West Point. The buff brick and terra cotta Spanish Colonial Revival style depot greeted seven passenger trains daily in 1929, the year it was completed.

5. Abilene Union Pacific Railroad Freight Depot, 110 North Cedar Street
Union-Pacific-Freight-Depot-Abilene,KS

Built from 1928 to 1929 at the same time as the passenger depot nearby, the freight depot also is in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Be sure to note the unique roof and look for colorful tiles and masonry features.