Preserve America Community:
Excelsior Springs, Missouri, (population 10,847) was founded in 1880 on the site of a mineral water spring after settlers discovered its medicinal qualities. Twenty springs bubbling out of four distinct varieties of water let Excelsior Springs promote itself as having the world's greatest group of mineral waters. A particularly unusual feature of the group lies in the fact that it includes two of the six known iron-manganese springs in the world.
The waters were bottled and shipped worldwide. At the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, medals were awarded to the Regent spring water and Soterian ginger ale. In 1937, the Hall of Waters was constructed to house the Siloam Spring and nine other mineral water springs, and also provided the city the capability to bottle water. The Hall of Waters was constructed with $1 million from the Public Works Administration. Designed in the Art Deco style, it still houses the world's longest water bar. Today, the Hall of Waters houses the city's administrative offices.
Hotels were built to house the thousands of visitors, including the Elms Hotel, built in 1912. President Harry Truman spent the 1948 election night at the Elms. Both the Hall of Waters and the Elms Hotel are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Oaks Hotel was rehabilitated into 38 senior housing units from 2005-2007. The Oaks Hotel was built in 1913 but experienced an extensive fire in 1991. The Excelsior Springs City Council approved selling the building to a private developer for $1, who in turn rehabilitated the hotel, using federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives.
The Web site for the Excelsior Springs Historic Preservation Commission provides information about locally designated historic landmarks. Images and a short description are available for each property or district locally designated. The Hall of Waters Historic District is both a locally designated and National Register of Historic Places historic district.
For more information:
City of Excelsior Springs: www.cityofesmo.com
Excelsior Springs Historic Preservation Commission: www.eshpc.org
Excelsior Springs Museum and Archives: www.exsmo.com/museum
Posted August 3, 2009