When we read about the “World’s Littlest Skyscraper” in Wichita Falls we knew wehad to visit. I’m not sure why the Coehn Brothers haven’t made the story into a movie but they need to. Here is the story.
Around 1912 there were large petroleum reserves found around Wichita Falls. A lot of people in the town got rich and there was a demand for growth in the town. A con man named J.D. Mcmahon decided to scam the town.
Per Wikipedia, “According to local legend, when McMahon announced in 1919 that he would build a highrise annex to the Newby Building as a solution to the newly wealthy city’s urgent need for office space, investors were eager to invest in the project. McMahon collected $200,000 (US$ 2,730,000 in 2016) in investment capital from this group of naive investors, promising to construct a highrise office building across the street from the St. James Hotel.
The key to McMahon’s swindle, and his successful defense in the ensuing lawsuit, was that he never verbally stated that the actual height of the building would be 480 feet (150 m); the proposed skyscraper depicted in the blueprints that he distributed (and which were approved by the investors) was clearly labelled as consisting of four floors and 480 inches (12 m).
McMahon used his own construction crews to build the McMahon Building on the small, unused piece of property next to the Newby Building, without obtaining prior consent from the owner of the property, who lived in Oklahoma. As the building began to take shape, the investors realized they had been swindled into purchasing a four-story edifice that was only 40 ft (12 m) tall, rather than the 480 ft (150 m) structure they were expecting.
They brought a lawsuit against McMahon but, to their dismay, the real estate and construction deal was declared legally binding by a local judge – as McMahon had built exactly according to the blueprints they had approved, there was to be no legal remedy for the deceived investors. They did recover a small portion of their investment from the elevator company, which refused to honor the contract after they learned of the confidence trick. There was no stairway installed in the building upon its initial completion, as none was included in the original blueprints. Rather, a ladder was employed to gain access to the upper three floors. By the time construction was complete, McMahon had left Wichita Falls and perhaps even Texas, taking with him the balance of the investors’ money.”
I wouldn’t drive to Wichita Falls to see it but if you are passing through check it out.