Local Register District listed July 2010
National Register District listed August 24, 2018
The Boarding House District is smaller than the district suggested in the 1994 and 2014 Boarding House District surveys because several of the buildings along the west edge of the previously suggested district have been demolished since 1994. The buildings in the Boarding House District were, for the most part, built between 1895 and 1930, a period when Excelsior Springs grew from a population of approximately 2,034 to 4,564 and became recognized as “America’s Haven of Health” because of the mineral water springs here. The period of significance extends to 1963, however, because the buildings continued to function as boarding houses serving the needs of health seekers and tourists until Excelsior Springs decline as a result of being prohibited from advertising its mineral waters as medicinal cures.
The Boarding House Historic District remains an important residential neighborhood that reflects the early history of Excelsior Springs as it became a regional health and recreational destination. The buildings that document this sequence of development tell a unique and important story. They define the residential history of the community and provide tangible reminders of the past that create a unique sense of place.
The area retains much of its historic character as it evolved to accommodate large numbers of temporary residents visiting this important regional destination, having the highest concentration of apartments, boarding houses and single family homes that supplemented their income by renting out rooms or by sharing a house with another person. These properties became a significant part of the city’s economic base; in 1903, the Excelsior Springs Standard noted that tourists and health seekers spent an estimated $30,000 per week in the city. The Boarding House District is also the location of seven of the city’s mineral water springs or wells, which sold water to patrons seeking the health benefits of mineral waters.
Over the years, 34 boarding houses, rooming houses, and apartments operated in the Boarding House District. Of these, five have now been demolished, leaving 29 extant.
National Historic District