Colonial Hotel was constructed at 205 South Jefferson Avenue at
the southwest corner of St. Louis and Jefferson in 1907. The six-story
building became the main place in Springfield to have dances, proms
and political meetings. The hotel was widely feted as the finest
hotel in southwest Missouri. It was the first building constructed
with a steel frame in Springfield and was thus an important element
in Springfield's architectural history.
The yearly Democratic gathering in Springfield called Jackson Days
was held in the Colonial for many years. President Truman stayed
at the Colonial during a 1952 reunion of his WWI buddies. Elvis
Presley stayed in the hotel during his first Springfield stop in
the 1950s. John F. Kennedy stayed there during a campaign stop.
In 1925 Charles Sansone, a prominent local businessman, purchased
the Colonial from its owners John Landers and his son D.J. Landers.
In 1924 the Landers had constructed a $200,000 addition on Jefferson
Avenue. The addition added 51 rooms to the establishment. Mr. Sansone,
who also owned and operated the Sansone Hotel, continued making
renovations and buying many new furnishings for the Colonial.
By the 1960s John H. Landers owned the building again. In 1963 C.
Ward Chrisman purchased the building, which had begun to deteriorate.
He planned to renovate and modernize the building, but like those
who came after him was unable to secure funding.
The most devastating thing to happen to the Colonial Hotel was the
closing of Business Route 66 to create a pedestrian mall and the
design of a loop and one-way streets to get traffic around the area.
When this happened in the early 1970s every parking space belonging
to the Colonial Hotel was removed and several blocks of Route 66
were closed to traffic.
In 1978 the building, still owned by Chrisman, was left vacant.
Several efforts were made to revitalize the hotel. The Park Central
Development Corporation purchased the building to make a luxury
apartment complex, but funding ran short. In 1980 the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development rejected a proposal to turn the
building into low-income housing. In 1983 a Memphis, Tennessee,
developer planned to purchase the Colonial and convert it to luxury
apartments. This deal also fell through for lack of funding.
In 1986 longtime owner Chrisman donated the Colonial to the Southwest
Missouri State University Foundation. The Foundation at first was
undecided about whether to renovate and convert the hotel for university
use, sell it or demolish it. The decision was made in 1997 to raze
the building and put a university parking lot in its place. This
course was decided on because it would cost only $250,000 rather
than 5 million to renovate the building. It came down in late November
This postcard is probably from a photograph taken soon after the
Colonial was built in 1907. Note the trolley tracks in the lower
right hand side of the card. The second postcard is dated 1968. Its caption reads: "Downtown
Springfield, MO 200 rooms, mostly air-conditioned, coffee shop,
cocktail lounge free parking AHA, AAA."