Generally, folks in Texas are known for bragging about how everything is bigger in Texas! Strange, then, that visitors to Wichita Falls are often encouraged to visit a uniquely small building at the corner of Seventh and LaSalle downtown, proudly boasted about as "The World's Littlest Skyscraper." This four-story red brick edifice is only 40 feet tall, with only 118 square feet on each floor. But it has an interesting history.
When the famous Burkburnett Oil boom was in full swing, Wichita Falls enjoyed a huge growth in population and business. There was a great demand for new buildings to house all the new businesses. One J. D. McMahon, a petroleum landman from Philadelphia, came up with a plan to build a new high-rise office building in 1919. Investors paid about $200,000.00 to him, hoping to gain a good return. McMahon provided the investors with a nice set of building plans, which had the dimensions marked in inches rather than feet. He used his own construction crew to build the "skyscraper," without getting permission from the owner of the property, who lived in Oklahoma.
By the time construction was finished, McMahon had absconded with the investors' money. Investors tried to get their money back in a lawsuit, but a judge ruled against them because the building was built exactly as shown in the blueprints that investors had approved. They were stuck with the little building. A few oil producers had desks in the tiny space but eventually the building became vacant, although through the years there were occasional small shops in it.
During the 1920's the building was featured in "Ripley's Believe It or Not" as "The World's Littlest Skyscraper," and the name has been used ever since. It has become a tourist sight, and is part of the Depot Square Historic District.