The Newby–McMahon Building, commonly referred to as the world’s littlest skyscraper, is located at 701 La Salle (on the corner of Seventh and La Salle streets) in downtown Wichita Falls, Texas. It started out innocently enough, but then most swindles do. In 1919, Wichita Falls was a crowded place. While area businessmen were enjoying the first of several region-wide oil booms, offices were located wherever space could be found, and “ coat pocket” business addresses were as common as anything made of bricks and mortar.
Investors practically stood in line to buy stock in a construction project proposed by a Philadelphia building engineer, the plain-looking tenant of the Newby Hotel, a man whose given name has been lost to history. He probably was a genuine building engineer or he could never have presented his $200,000 (c. 1919) project so convincingly! Contracts were signed, money changed hands and construction began on the lot next door to the clever visionary’s hotel address. Trouble was, none of the investors seemed to notice that the Philadelphian’s blueprints, which called for dimensions measured in square feet, were actually executed in square inches until after the property, still standing after 80-plus years, was finished. By then, the Easterner had long checked out of the hotel, taking the bulk of his ill-gotten $200,000 along.
During the 1920s, the Newby–McMahon Building was featured in Robert Ripley’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! syndicated column as “the world’s littlest skyscraper,” a nickname that has stuck with it ever since. The Newby–McMahon Building is now part of the Depot Square Historic District of Wichita Falls, a Texas Historic Landmark.
You can visit the skyscraper today and climb ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP, but watch your head it’s a tight fit. A quaint antique shop, Hello Again, now calls the bottom floor of The Littlest Skyscraper home. Owner Jan Saville greets tourists on a daily basis and is always happy to talk to them about this Wichita Falls gem. Saville says they have a map on the wall where visitors can put in a pin, marking where they’re from. Right now, there are pins that mark visitors from almost every country around the world!