Midwest Hotel once served working-class travelers


Photo by Mike Sinclair.

(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.)

The Midwest Hotel at 20th and Main – its decades of service to  working class travelers all but forgotten – now sits vacant and deteriorated.

The five-story terra-cotta building built in 1915 sold at a foreclosure sale this year.

It has been on the National Register since 2004 as part of the Working Class and Mid-Priced Hotel district that also includes the Rieger Hotel and Hotel Monroe.

The application for historic designation tells its history:

The noted Kansas City architecture firm of Smith, Rea and Lovitt designed the 75-room, fireproof hotel of reinforced concrete built for an estimated $50,000.

It is within walking distance of Union Station, and among its long term clients were traveling salesmen who used it as a base of operations.

Joseph Harris owned it until January 1943, when Stella Parke purchased it and got into a dispute with war department officials. They took it over as a headquarters for military police, who were then bivouacked in Penn Valley Park.

Parke got it back in 1946 and it remained a hotel until it closed in 2005.

In 2003, Jackson County prosecutors alleged drug dealers and prostitutes made the place a public nuisance and sued in an attempt to force its sale.

In 2008, its owners tried to do a redevelopment involving the adjoining Hereford House and two other properties, but the Hereford House burned and the effort failed.

Historic Kansas City Foundation reports that the building has recently drawn interest from local developers, but its layout and deterioration make reuse difficult.

“Demolition for new construction is likely,” the foundation reports.

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