Excelsior Springs, MO

The historic Colonial Hotel of 1924 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri was popular back in the days of the 'healing springs'

CJ Coombs

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Colonial Hotel, Excelsior Springs, Missouri.Photo by25or6to4, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

On June 24, 2010, The Colonial Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This historic hotel is also known as the Colonial Apartments. Located at 325 East Broadway, this three-story structure was built in 1924. In 2010, it was listed as vacant. The foundation is limestone and the walls are brick. The architectural classification is late 19" and 20* Century Revivals.

This Clay County building represents an example of a colonnaded apartment, which was a common type of structure in urban areas or even in smaller cities in Missouri in the first part of the 1900s. These types of apartments stand out by their tiered porches and supporting columns.

In about 1970, the building was broken down into smaller apartments which would explain why some of the bathrooms were in places you wouldn't expect to see them.

In one unit, the toilet is in a closet off the same room as the kitchen. In another unit the bathroom sink is between a closet housing the kitchen sink and a closet that once held the toilet. In yet another unit, the shower is in a closet next to a separate closet housing the toilet. (Source.)

Excelsior Springs used to be a place of tourism associated with a health spa because of the springs such as the Hall of Waters, which building is also considered historic. People would travel to Excelsior Springs for a cure and because the city advertised the mineral springs, visitors came and needed lodging and one of those facilities was the Colonial Hotel. Later, however, the prosperity of the city declined once "the medical benefits of hydrotherapy were effectively debunked," for being a curative treatment for diseases.

There were also long-term residents at the Colonial Hotel. Some stayed as long as six years.

The Neoclassical details on the building had already been seen in Kansas City during the time the City Beautiful Movement was occurring. Back then, the effects of being in the beautiful surrounding were believed to improve a person's health, and this was exploited in tourism brochures by health resorts in Excelsior Springs.

The Colonial wasn't as costly to others in the city. The rooms were rented between $3 to $8 per week which would be much more in our dollars today ($3 in 1924 would be $52 in 2022).

In 1930, the federal government expanded Excelsior Spring's Veteran's Hospital to a 300-bed capacity, so facilities like the Colonial Hotel would be needed for family members. In 1933, a loan was authorized by the then-governor to refine and expand the mineral water system. That's when the Hall of Waters was constructed (1938) which was close in vicinity to the Colonial Hotel.

Even though people were traveling less due to World War II, the Hall of Waters and the VA Hospital helped the economy in Excelsior Springs into the 1950s.

In September 1963, Excelsior Springs' health industry received another blow when the Saturday Evening Post printed an article titled 'The Hucksters of Pain' in which health spas, including the clinics at Excelsior Springs, were denounced. (Source.)

With negative publicity and debunking and other speculation, the city's mineral water bottling industry began losing an average of $25,000 a year. The Hall of Waters closed in 1967 and the Elms Hotel closed in 1971 (the latter reopened in 1977).

The Colonial Hotel ultimately became low-rent apartments. Because the interior was deteriorating, the apartments closed in 2007. The exterior, however, appears to be standing strong. The building appears to still be vacant and displaying No Trespassing signs.

Thanks for reading!

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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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