Once an elegant and fashionably trendy locale, the Presidential Hotel played host to the 1928 Republican National Convention where Herbert Hoover was nominated for President, and acted as a hot spot for Kansas City Jazz in the '30s and '40s. The hotel was eventually abandoned in 1984, at which point it became a haven for vagabonds and pigeons, collecting animal waste and incurring significant smoke damage from indoor campfires.
|The lobby was restored to its 1930s grandeur, a difficult task since the original fixtures and fittings had been sold, stolen, or damaged. Significant repairs saved the damaged and rotted entrance canopy (above).
PHOTOS: MIKE SINCLAIR
In 2002, the Kansas City Council overrode a long-term plan to demolish the hotel, and in 2004 a massive interior cleanup effort began. Faded black-and-white photos were reviewed and what remained of the hotel's interior architectural details were analyzed. Paint layers were peeled away to determine the hotel's original color scheme. Extensive molding and plaster work was eventually recast.
Another major renovation, led by JE Dunn Construction, involved transforming the original Presidential Suite from a two-story space into a single-story guest suite, thereby creating space for an entire new floor of guestrooms.
On the mechanical side, the hotel's elevators had to be resized to meet modern-day code requirements, and four feet of space had to be added to the top of the shaft for servicing. In addition, the basement had to be redesigned to make room for new ductwork and piping.
Today, the newly refurbished 16-story hotel offers 10,250 sf of meeting space, 200-plus boutique-style hotel rooms, including two presidential suites—one of which is the largest in the Midwest—fine dining and entertainment, while simultaneously lending a historic flair to downtown Kansas City.
Impressed with the overall restoration effort, BD+C Reconstruction Awards judge Robert L. Selby, FAIA, associate professor, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said, “It's a catalyst for other downtown restorations.”