Another former grand hotel now on endangered list

(The Midtown KC Post is profiling the buildings on the Historic Kansas City Foundation’s Most Endangered List for 2013. More about our series of stories.)

By Joe Lambe

Look closely at the decayed Hawthorn Plaza Apartments building on Main Street and its terra cotta whispers of past elegance.

It is on the National Register of Historic Places and also the 10 most endangered buildings list issued recently by the Historic Kansas City Foundation.

Efforts to renovate it have failed for lack of financing. The vacant structure at 3835 Main St. is also on the city dangerous buildings list.

The nomination for national historic status – granted in 1979 – tells the story of an aristocrat brought down by time:

It used to be called the Netherlands Hotel, a 10-floor apartment hotel when it opened in 1928.

It was a boom period, with Midtown taking shape amid Spanish and classical revival architecture, Main Street and Broadway becoming prosperous links from Downtown to the new Country Club Plaza suburb.

By 1930, all the city’s “Society Folk” lived between Armour Boulevard and 48th Street, the Community Herald reported.

The architect for the Netherlands was Robert F. Gornall, known in part for a Spanish revival style mixed with Moorish and Baroque elements.

The builder was Guy H. McCanles, who built the Bainbridge and Kenwood apartments on Armour Boulevard and the Alcazar apartments at 39th Street and Baltimore Avenue.

Gornall was known then for his recent design of the Uptown Theater at 3700 Broadway, which served as a training ground for the Netherlands.

On the interior the two became the same, the nomination form stated:

“Gornall created a fantasy land of arabesque pediments, piers, arches encircled by rope molding-all with a stucco finish; wrought iron lamps, torcheres, railings, chairs, chandeliers, and signs; tapestries, large clay pots, and plants,” all grouped around leather chairs.

Gonall “let his imagination run free on the Netherland’s portal and at the roofline,” it stated. “A sense of fantasy and grandeur were evoked that survive to this day and make the Netherland’s Hotel stand out from its surrounding neighbors.”

But while many of its smaller neighboring buildings have been renovated by now, the once grand hotel also stands out as faded and very much in danger.

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