Mural at historic Wichita building set to be demolished, but artist wants to save it

A mural inside a historic Wichita building is slated to be demolished Monday. The creator, longtime Wichita artist Steve Murillo, said he would like to see otherwise.

Murillo, a Wichita native, painted the mural that is displayed on the wall in the lobby of the Eaton Place in downtown Wichita. He says he was approached about the mural in 2001 by the new owners of the Eaton Place building, which at the time were working on the redesign of the building.

“I know they wanted to me to do something that would celebrate the historic aspects of the building,” Murillo said.

Murillo learned of the planned demolition of the mural by Eaton Place management this past week by a friend who lives in the building.

The Eaton Place lobby mural is slated to be demolished Monday, Sep, 26. The artist says the mural can be removed and stored away.
The Eaton Place lobby mural is slated to be demolished Monday, Sep, 26. The artist says the mural can be removed and stored away.

“I’m just concerned about the fact that the owners, whoever they are, they might need to kind of think about it ... this is purely based on being custodians of our cultural heritage,” Murillo said about the preservation of the mural.

Murillo says the mural can be removed and stored until a new home can be found.

“When we install these murals, we used a reversible adhesive so that we can take them down when something like this happens ... when you have new owners or news uses for buildings. I’m just kind of worried that they don’t realize that,” Murillo said.

The Eaton Place was built in 1887 originally as a hotel on the southwest corner of Douglas and St. Francis. This was was important to Murillo as he says he wanted the mural depict the time period in which the hotel was constructed in.

“It was more important for me that I did a good job. I kind of put my own interests in the backseat and try to figure out a way that made the mural appropriate and the theme that the owners wanted,” Murillo said. “I was really glad that the building was receiving a face lift and that people could move into it.”

The mural features the Eaton Place building on the right side along with other elements from that time period. Murillo said he spent two weeks researching and putting the drawing together.

“I wanted to make it a street scene. I did have a good image of a fire truck from that time period because it was horse drawn,” Murillo said. “It turns out the building almost burned down a couple times. I didn’t know that at the time, so it was kind of interesting because it kind of played up the fact that there were times when the building did catch fire.”

In an email sent to The Eagle from what appears to be Eaton Place management, it reads that demolition of the mural is scheduled for Monday, Sep. 26.

“We will begin with the demo on the mural and then move on to removing the wallpaper, skimming the walls and then the new paint,” the email read.

A call into Eaton Place management by Murillo about the mural was unsuccessful.

“We can take it down, store it and then reinstall it for another purpose or another client. That’s the case here, and I mentioned that to the manager when I called to tell them that and they just didn’t really seem to care,” Murillo said.

Murillo got a undergraduate and graduate art degrees from Wichita State, where he taught as an adjunct professor. He currently owns a studio here in Wichita creating murals for a number of different clients.