postcard shows a drawing of the Kentwood Arms Hotel at 700 St. Louis
Street. The building in the picture is a six-story structure, but
Kentwood Arms is a five-story building. It advertises the Kentwood
Arms as a clean, restful and attractive environment within a block
of the business and theater center of Springfield. The Kentwood
was built in 1926 by local developer John T. Woodruff. Woodruff
also developed a golf course on his Cherry Street Farm, which later
became the Hickory Hills Country Club. It is mentioned on the postcard
as one of the amenities of Kentwood Arms Hotel.
The new hotel contained the Crystal Dining Room, which could be
rented for banquets, dances and public meetings. Republicans often
held their meetings here, as the Democrats usually used the
Colonial Hotel. Famous visitors who stayed at the hotel were
Harry Truman, Pat Nixon, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx and Jeanette McDonald.
The original owner Woodruff sold the building to Earl Moulder in
1939. In 1968 Moulder sold it to C. Arch Bay who kept the hotel
until he sold it to John Q. Hammons in 1983. In 1984 Hammons sold
the Kentwood to Southwest Missouri State University (SMSU). The
University renovated the facility and it was available for student
housing in fall 1984. It was renamed Kentwood Dormitory and provided
the first married housing at SMSU since the 1940s. It holds 115
students and cost $105 per person per month in its first year of
An interesting sidelight is that the Kentwood Arms ended segregation
at the same time as the Heer's Department
Store in September 1960. A visit to the city by then-vice-president
Richard Nixon spurred the desegregation.
On April 22, 1978, a fire started in the room of Mr. and Mrs. C.
Hugh Baker, who were permanent residents of the hotel. The fire
took their lives and badly damaged the rest of the hotel.