Wichita Falls: Then and Now

Only On 6: Wichita Falls Then And Now

With over 100,000 residents, the city of Wichita Falls is growing.  It has even surpassed the amount of people that were in the city during the 1960's which is Wichita Falls' biggest population booms.

Today, the most profitable areas have shifted.  Downtown Wichita Falls was once a booming, bustling area. Now, that area is near Sikes Senter Mall, Midwestern Pkwy., Lawrence Rd., and Kemp Blvd.

Newschannel 6 reached out to the Backdoor Theatre, which is located in heart of downtown as well as the Davenport Grocery located on the Eastside of Wichita Falls to see if they have ever thought of moving to the more populated areas of town.

The Backdoor Theatre has been in its location at the end of Indiana since 1976. The theatre is also a historic landmark in the Falls.

“It's such a strong history that's deeply rooted to this place.   This really has become the people's theater.  We hold on to creative arts and from what we've struggled and strived for and what we've succeeded in, we've made out of this building,” said Artistic Director for the Backdoor Theatre, Michael Sherry.

Davenport Grocery is also a historic landmark. It's the oldest, locally and family owned grocery store in Wichita Falls.

“Moving over there no.  We're just a neighborhood grocery.  We like to serve our customers.  We have a great neighborhood and a great community,” said Owner of Davenport Grocery, Nadonna  Norriss.

One of the reasons that the majority of the population has shifted is because of the creation of Sikes Senter Mall in 1974.

"Retail like businesses either stores or restaurants, they sell to a certain demographic.   What happens with those types of businesses, they have a formula and they're looking for community of a certain size," said President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in Wichita Falls, Henry Florsheim.

Although Wichita Falls has a growing population, Florsheim said the city isn't growing by any leaps and bounds, and it isn't shrinking either.

Florsheim said, when a lot of retail businesses come to Wichita Falls they are looking for their competitors , looking to be near a mall or looking to be near an interstate.  When you think of those areas, you think of Midwestern, Lawrence and Kemp.

Florsheim however, is trying to find ways to grow areas like downtown Wichita Falls.

"We're trying to figure out how you balance out the mix.  If you want to be a great community, you need a good thriving retail sector and you've got to have a good downtown.  If we want to be a world class community, we have to have an outstanding downtown," said Florsheim.

That's an outstanding hope to bring in more people to the downtown area as well as the Eastside of Wichita Falls.

, Newschannel 6

Photos provided by Julie Coley