Kansas City, MO

The Raphael Hotel first opened in 1928 as the Villa Serena Apartments with salmon-colored velvet walls in the lobby

CJ Coombs

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Villa Serena Apartment Hotel.Mwkruse, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Raphael Hotel is a historic hotel located on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. It's a significant structure because it first opened in 1928, and it was a luxury apartment building called the Villa Serena Apartments.

The architectural design is an Italian Renaissance Revival style that coincides with the Country Club Plaza's Spanish Renaissance style. The architect was Alonzo Gentry. The construction of Villa Serena Apartments was completed by the McCanles Construction Company. The inspiration to build this building came from the luxury apartments that overlook New York City's Central Park.

When the Villa Serra Apartments were built, thick walls of brick were included to lower utility costs as well as noise. Construction also included fire-resistant methods. The location, too, can't go unmentioned. Building the apartment structure on Wark Parkway was good for advertising purposes. Interestingly, when the city's main airport was downtown, pilots and flight attendants from the old airline, TWA, used to stay there.

It's also interesting to learn that in the early days, the lobby of the apartment building had walls covered with salmon-colored velvet, and this required vacuuming every week. Initially, this 1928 structure was intended to be used as a luxury multi-family residential building.

J.C. Nichols Company acquires Villa Serena Apartments

In 1974, the Villa Serena Apartment building was purchased by J.C. Nichols Company and when it reopened in 1975 as a European-style boutique hotel, it had a new name--The Raphael.

Highlights of the hotel include the ornate lobby with two eighteen-torch chandeliers and the courtyard featuring a white marble statue by Italian artist Bernard Zuckerman. (Source.)

In 2001, this 126-room hotel became a member of the Historic Hotels of America. In 2009, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. What used to be a beauty salon in the apartment building is now a restaurant called Chaz on the Plaza.

Famous guests who have stayed at the Raphael include Marvin Gaye, Steve Martin, Barbara Walters, Walter Cronkite, Frank Zappa, and George McGovern. (Source.)

Guests of The Raphael can take pleasure in knowing they're staying in a historical building that will probably be around for another 94 years.

Thank you for reading. Keeping history alive.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO
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