The Littlest Skyscraper sits downtown Wichita Falls, Texas on La Salle Street.
It was built in 1919 back when nearby Burkburnett was booming with oil and the streets were paved with the essence of black gold. A wheeler-dealer came to town just in time to answer the call for more office space. One, J.D. McMahon, businessman decided it was time to build a skyscraper on the scale of New York for this would-be progressive Texas city, so he set about finding investors. He was able to raise about $200,000 which in yesterday’s dollars would translate into Really Bigger Bucks. He promised his backers to build a skyscraper like they wouldn’t believe. And that, they didn’t. Some trucks showed up one day with building materials, and workers set to work. Mr. MacMahon quietly started getting his things together, and one day he just left. Poof! He was gone.
Inquiries began coming in, the workers progressed on the structure, then finally finished. Then the crew left. The oil business had already begun to wane, and people started leaving town. The investors were restless wanting to know where the skyscraper was. One day, a businessman with construction experience was in the office when an angry investor came to look for J.D. The business guy told him that the only new building around was a small four-story structure across the street, and it was unoccupied. Then a thought struck him, he sent his secretary to get the blueprints at the courthouse, upon receiving them, he took a tape measure to the structure, and in a few minutes, he had the answer: Mr. MacMahon had built the promised skyscraper, but he had built it to the scale of INCHES, not FEET. Legally, the investors had no recourse, because the building had been built according to specifications, and they had not read the difference in the inches’ mark: “ or the mark denoting feet ‘.
Fast forward….the building has withstood fires, tornadoes, abandonment, and the threat of demolition. It lived through the period of Bonny and Clyde’s escapades. It became a small symbol of slightly unethical greed in a time of a whole lotta of oily greed. At Some point, it will give life to a story somewhere….maybe it will be a ghost, a crime scene, a kidnapping, or the entrance to a time tunnel. I am not sure, but I am sure that something fascinating lingers there.