The Town Square and Woodson County Courthouse in Yates Center is a classical Midwestern county seat. Situated at the crossroads of U.S. Highways 75 and 54, the town was established in 1875. Today it is an important trade center for the area.
About 50 store buildings and other structures comprise the Yates Center Courthouse Square Historic District, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May of 1986. The buildings date back to between 1883 and 1928. Most of the storefronts are one or two stories and constructed of sandstone and/or brick Italianate. These early commercial buildings are on all four sides of the Square, with the courthouse, surrounded by spacious lawns being the center focal point.
Yates Center is said to be the only town in Kansas which was especially created to be a county seat. If you're looking for small town America that looks like a painting by Norman Rockwell, you'll find it here.
In a general scarcity of historical attractions throughout Woodson County, the entire public square of its county seat enjoys a status on the National Register of Historic Places. Thankfully most of the public buildings are going concerns to this day (furniture merchants, lawyer's offices, etc).
Built in 1887 and once the best of three hotels in Yates Center, the former Woodson Hotel was constructed for under $11,000 before the railroad came to town. A fair example of bank and hotel architecture for the times, the hotel would not enjoy electricity, running water and other amenities for almost a dozen years. By modern standards, its luxuries were quite squalid -- all the bathrooms were originally outside where all the slop jars were daily emptied.
As the county courthouse is ringed by a grove of trees, the public square is perfectly girded by a phalanx of Victorian buildings. Some of the living examples have fallen into disuse and thus disrepair, but others have been kept in the same unkempt and unbecoming condition in which they were constructed in the 1880s.
Typically, the Victorian-era buildings of mid-America are constructed of red brick, but wooden structures yield better to colorful paint. Even though our forefathers were somewhat bland in the style and appearance of their working quarters, there are numerous examples of turn-of-the-century offices as bright and colorful as a county fair.
This small pavilion resides on the corner of the courthouse lawn in the town square. Small and engraved with limited names due to zero population densities, the memorial aims toward the incoming avenue linking the highway out of town.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and similar to other courthouses in Kansas, this handsome structure with its beaming white cupola anchors the center of a town square still thriving near its sesquicentennial. The red towers in each corner have Romanesque features, the twin chimneys at the entrance a downhome coziness, and every element sits majestically in a grove of hardwood trees.
This is the courthouse square and memorial in the heart of Yates Center. Take a visit to the lovely area near the square.