Rinaldo Calbeck, born in 1864 in Indiana, came to Pratt County in 1887 with $300 in a money belt, which he deposited, as the first depositor, in The Peoples Bank. His brother Orlando came to Pratt and R. Calbeck, as he was known, moved to Seward County.


Calbeck comes to Pratt
Rinaldo Calbeck, born in 1864 in Indiana, came to Pratt County in 1887 with $300 in a money belt, which he deposited, as the first depositor, in The Peoples Bank. His brother Orlando came to Pratt and R. Calbeck, as he was known, moved to Seward County.
The two owned a second-hand store at the southwest corner of Fourth and Main. R. Calbeck returned to Pratt, moved the store across the street and expanded. In the building to the rear of the store, he manufactured Calbeck Patent Table Racks.
After receiving an embalming license in 1892, Calbeck opened a mortuary above the store. The present mortuary, in the 100 block of East Fourth, was built in 1932.
The Calbeck Hotel was built in 1917 on the original store site and expanded to the south and west, probably about 1925, according to Jeff Taylor of 4-T Investments, the current owner. Every room had hot and cold water and a sink. Four bathrooms were shared. A few of the rooms had complete bathrooms.
The lobby was in the current Edward Jones business of Wes Norman. There was also a dining room and “two good business rooms,” according to The Pratt Union of March 8, 1917.
Taylor has a board with a card for each room describing its amenities and rate structure. A couple could rent a room for a night for $3.60, stay a week for $12 or a month for $40. The board indicates that 50 rooms were available.
Taylor believes the hotel closed in 1963. His family purchased the building in 1979.

Other businesses
In addition to its original 50-foot frontage, expanded in about 1925 to 75 feet on Main Street, the Calbeck Building extends to the alley on Fourth Street.
Dorotha Giannangelo’s “Main Street Pratt, Kansas” indicates that Anna Fishborn had a millinery shop in the building at least through the mid-1930s. There was a Powder Puff Beauty Parlor and barbers included C.E. Lees, C.O. Lees, C.F. Kanady and Lampe.
Other tenants have included a chiropractor, a cable TV company, insurance companies, a pawn shop, gift shop, crop consultant firm, travel agency and and a baseball card shop.
There was a Loft and Lobby nightclub — a pretty wild place, according to Taylor — and later the Lone Star Lady.
Current tenants include Stan Reimer’s Photography Gallery, Edward Jones, Pratt Family Dental, Pratt County Community Services, Pass it Forward, the Pratt Christian Food Bank and the office of Hamm Self Storage.

The tour
For the purpose of this story, Taylor offered a tour of the building. The second floor includes an apartment where his brother Brian lives and another apartment being constructed.
Part of the second floor is used for storage.
The third floor is a weathered version of the original hotel — narrow corridors and tall wooden doors with frosted glass windows and transoms above. Taylor stepped off a room at about 12 feet square.
Some of the old clawfoot bathtubs are present. Threadbare carpeting shows a green scroll or floral pattern, over pine floors in the original part and oak in the later addition.
A story by Lettie Little Pabst in Giannangelo’s Main Street book describes Calbeck as being in constant fear of fire. Perhaps that is why, in addition to a more traditional fire escape on the building, he also fitted each room with a chain anchored to the wall and extended with a thick rope, all stuffed neatly into a cloth bag, to allow hotel guests to lower themselves.