The Hall of Waters
In 1935, the city of Excelsior Springs purchased the rights to 10 springs and in the same year, ground was broken to start a $1 million Federal Public Works Administration project — the Hall of Waters. Pipes were laid to bring water from the city-owned springs and wells to the water bar.Four separate types of the water were piped into the Hall of Waters Processing and Bottling Plant. From here, the mineral water was shipped all over the world. The waters bottled here included calcium bicarbanate, a palatable water favored by local residents as a “drinking water,” sodium bicarbonate (soda water), sulfo-saline, and iron manganese. The building features unique Art Deco detailing and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the Local Landmarks Register and Clay County Historical Register. The Hall of Waters contains the city’s administrative offices. Public offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Clay County State Bank
Located at 101 East Broadway. Standing on what was originally the “Excelsior Hotel grounds” (Excelsior Springs first hotel), the bank was constructed of Bedford stone at the cost of $25,000 in 1894. It was known as one of the most artistic bank buildings in Missouri, designed by Louis S. Curtiss. The building contains a painting on the south wall which is a copy of “The Gleaners” and one on the north wall known as “The Angelus.” They are considered to be invaluable.
The bank building was sold for $1 to the City of Excelsior Springs by the Kemper family of Kansas City in 1968, asking that it be used as a museum. It is the home of the Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives. The museum is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment. No admission fee; donations are very much appreciated. Contact the Museum at 816-630-0101 or visit the Museum web site for more information. The building is listed on the Landmarks Register and the Clay County Historical Register.
The Elms Hotel
Located at Elms and Regent Boulevards, the hotel is the third Elms Hotel, built in 1912. The present Elms Hotel was built by the Elms Realty Company and designed by the prominent Kansas City architects, Jackson and McIlvain, in a style quite similar to the preceding hotel (which they also designed). However, this new building features fireproof construction, with its steel frame and reinforced concrete. Interior stairways of steel and marble were also designed not only to be elegant, but to add to the building’s ability to withstand fire.
The Elms Hotel is illustrative of the Tudor revival style, as applied to a commercial building. The building has an irregular U-shaped plan, with a courtyard formed in the rear. The main facade faces north, and has two projecting end bays which enframe the center section. A two-story, semi-circle bay with flat roof projects from the center of the front facade. The west elevation contains another major entry. A porte cochere, formerly a drop off point for guests, is now enclosed. Immediately south of the porte cochere is the entry door, leading directly into the hotel lobby. In the past, gambling became an attraction of the hotel, as it attracted a number of known “gangsters”. Other important visitors included oil magnate Harry Sinclair, artist Thomas Hart Benton, and TV personality Dave Garroway. President Harry Truman spent the 1948 election night at the Elms. The Elms is a significant landmark in Excelsior Springs, and is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
Located at the corner of Regent and Kansas City Ave. The church is a virtually intact example of a Gothic Revival “country” church, a style appropriate for the pastoral atmosphere of this resort city. The site of the church was once the property of the General Realty and Mineral Water Company, formed in 1911. Major W.A.J.Bell later became its president, as well as a benefactor of the church.
He donated the land for the church in 1932. That same year, noted Kansas City architect George M. Siemens designed the small Gothic Revival church. Major Bell was an Episcopalian, serving as vestryman in his parish church at Blechingley, Surrey, England. When local church members desired a physical link between Bell’s parish church and theirs, Major Bell arranged for a finely carved stone from the 15th century, which had been removed during remodeling, to be shipped from his parish church in England. It was incorporated into the interior wall on the west side of the nave. Dedication for the church was held late in 1933. Listed on the Local Landmarks Register.
Superior Well and Pagoda
In 1901, developments were occuring in the east portion of the river valley, which would later become a part of the Fishing River Parkway system and today is known as East Valley Park and Isley Woods. A pagoda was built by the J.C. Isley family for the Superior Spring. At this time the land was a beautiful park by the name of Reed Park. The original structure was completely made of wooden planks.
In 1912, the wooden framed pagoda was replaced by a stone pagoda. In the early 1950s, the Superior pagoda was altered. It was situated on top of a two story stone and concrete well enclosure, reached by walking across a reinforced concrete walkway. The natural stone texture and concrete well enclosure is circular and has a cone-shaped wood shingle roof supported by four octagon shaped piers. The pump is located in the center of the floor and the entrance is flanked by two gates. On May 10, 1982, the Superior Well and Pagoda was placed on the local landmarks register, it being the last remaining original spring pagoda in town.
The Carnegie Library was built in 1916 by Bales, Cook and Wilson with a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation, through the efforts of the Civic Improvement Association to establish a library and reading room in Excelsior Springs. The Excelsior Springs Carnegie Library is a one story, three bay, brick Classical Revival building and has a rectangular floor plan, a high limestone foundation, and a shallow hip roof of standing seam metal.
All sides of the building are three bays wide, which are demarcated by engaged fluted wood pilasters with Doric capitals, except for the west side, which has an exterior brick chimney in the place of one pilaster. The pilasters “support” a wide, plain cornice band beneath the widely overhanging eaves. The primary facade faces north. The main entrance is in the central bay, with stone steps leading to double, paneled wood doors with multi-light windows flanked by sidelights. The windows and sidelights are separated by slender engaged columns with Ionic capitals. Above, a semi-elliptical fanlight window has decorative spandrels. The central bay of the other three sides has a tripartite window. All window openings have stone sills, flat arches of radiating brick voussoirs, and a stone keystone. The windows are double-hung, with a fixed transform above. There is a smooth stone sill separating the basement from the first story.The city library continued here until 1972 when the Mid-Continent Public Library was organized. For many years after it housed the city police department. The building is listed on the Local Landmarks Register. Today it has been sold into private ownership and a store operates there.
Snapp Hotel/Oaks Hotel
Currently known as The Oaks Apartments, this structure was built as the Snapp Hotel in 1913 by James W. Snapp and replaced the first Snapp Hotel, which succumbed to fire in January 1912. Snapp chose as the architect for his new hotel Frank J. Jackson, of Jackson and McIlvain, the architects of two of the Elms Hotels.
The Oaks is built in free-style Spanish architecture and contained 150 rooms with private and connecting baths (all rooms with outside exposure), a veranda with porch swings, ballroom, large dining room, cocktail lounge and many other features. The milk, cream, butter, eggs, poultry and vegetables and fruits in season were supplied by the Snapp Farm, one mile from the hotel. A coffee shop, called the “Ginger Snap”, was patterened after a famous Spanish Inn in Mexico. The sun room had ping-pong tables and putting greens for year-round enjoyment. The basement contained a spa with separate departments for men and women. It was managed by Max Meloy, a graduate of the Chicago School of Massage and Therapeutic Gymnastics. The bath department had the only “sun-ray” equipment in Excelsior Springs. The Snapp’s Hotel Beauty Parlor also operated out of the first floor of the hotel. The hotel later changed ownership several times and in the 1950’s became known as the Oaks Hotel. The hotel has been restored today using state historic tax credits and has won several awards. The building is located on the Local Landmarks Register.
The Rowell House
The house is located at 517 Elms Boulevard. Constructed sometime between 1909 and 1910, the house has retained a high degree of architectural integrity. It is a virtually intact example of a simple residential property type. The house was built for Samuel Rowell, who was born two miles north of Excelsior Springs.
Upon completion of a pharmacy degree in Kansas City, he returned to Excelsior Springs. In 1894, he joined A.M. Howard in a drugstore known as “The Annex”. For 10 years he owned and operated the Rowell Drugstore on the corner of Broadway and Main. He attended Kansas City School of Law, and began his practice in the Rowell building on Broadway. He served as Mayor from 1916-1918, and Collector of the City prior to adoption of the city manager form of government in 1922. He served as Police Judge from 1930 to 1946. The house remained in the Rowell family for 63 years, passing from Samuel and Myrtle Rowell to their daughter, Froncie C. Rowell (later Tindall), then to her daughter, Moyne Tindall Woods. It was sold in 1973 and has since had several owners.
The Hiawatha Hotel and Well Site
Located at 101 Linden, corner of Linden and East Excelsior Street. The Hiawatha Hotel was built circa 1905 – 1909. It served the city as a boarding home with five rooms for let at $3.50 per week and up. A mineral water well is in the east yard and, according to “History of Mineral Water Springs and Wells”, contains soda water. Today it is a private residence. It still reflects an excellent example of Victorian architecture found in early Excelsior Springs construction, both private and commercial. It features a three-story turrent and pieces of original stained glass.