Kansas City, MO

The Coates House Hotel now known as the Quality Hill Apartments in Kansas City, Missouri is 165 years old

CJ Coombs

Coates House Hotel taken in 2015.Mwkruse, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Coates House Hotel stood at 10th St. and Broadway in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. In the late 1860s, it was known as the Boadway Hotel. With new owners, it became the Coates House Hotel.

In 1978, it was used as a facility for transients. The building had a tragic fire and was restored into an apartment building.

Hotel history

In 1857, an English architect, John W. Johnson, designed the first hotel version at this location. (Johnson was also the third mayor of Kansas City.) The land where the hotel would be constructed used to be farmland owned by Kersey Coates. Some of that farmland was developed into what Kansas Citians know as Quality Hill. Of interest, during the Civil War, the hotel building was not completed yet, and the foundation was used by Union troops as barracks.

Colonel Shalor Winchell Eldridge

Colonel Shalor Winchell Eldridge who was originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, and anti-slavery, owned and built the Broadway Hotel in the late 1860s. Col. Eldridge (b. Aug. 29, 1816, d. Jan. 16, 1899) had several roles. He was involved in early politics in the state of Kansas. He was Commissioner of Lawrence, Kansas, Quartermaster of the State of Kansas, and appointed as a U.S. Army Paymaster by President Lincoln in 1863.

The Broadway Hotel was managed by Col. Eldridge's brother, Thomas Bailey Eldridge (b. 1825, d. 1897). Another hotel owned by Col. Eldrige was the Eldridge House in Kansas. Because of the actions of a pro-slavery judge and sheriff who blasted the Eldridge House setting it on fire, it had to be rebuilt.

Kersey Coates

Coates was born in Salisbury, Pennsylvania on September 15, 1823. He was a businessman in Kansas City who helped to develop Quality Hill.

In 1870, Coates took over the Broadway Hotel and called it the Coates House. He also built the Coate Opera House nearby which was destroyed by fire in 1901. The neighborhood was becoming more prominent. In 1886, Coates added on to the hotel. In October 1887, President Grover Cleveland and his wife stayed at the hotel, six months after Coates died at the age of 63 on April 24, 1887.

In 1888, Coates' widow and family tore down the hotel and rebuilt it calling it the New Coates House Hotel. Before completion, in 1890, there was an addition that President Benjamin Harrison stayed in. The newer hotel had a main staircase of marble and amenities included a florist, barber shop, and a bonnet shop.

Because other presidents stayed there, Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, it was nicknamed the hotel of the presidents. Oscar Wilde was also a guest.

Fast forward

In January 1978, there was a dreadful fire in the hotel. At this time, it was basically occupied with transients. There were over 100 people left homeless and 20 died; they were jumping to escape being burned. It has been written that it was the deadliest fire in Kansas City. Before this fire, the hotel lost its glamour and was home to transients and the elderly who, according to The Washington Post, paid $17 per week to live there.

The fire took place at the Coates House Hotel, located in downtown KCMO on the corner of Broadway Blvd and 10th St., and burned for four hours, destroying the southern side of the hotel and taking twenty lives as well. (Source.)

In 1979, the ruined hotel was bought by the Historic Kansas City Foundation. Five years later, it was bought by a developer in St. Louis named McCormack Baron Salazar. Through this developer's restoration, it was returned to middle and high-income housing. Other sites in Quality Hill were also redeveloped. In 2009, a plaque was returned to the building now called Quality Hill Apartments commemorating Kersey Coates.

Click here to learn about The Coates Project: An Inherited History About Kansas City, Missouri.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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