postcard shows a head-on photograph of the Metropolitan Hotel as
it appeared during its heyday. Note the metal balconies on the upper
story windows and the awning over the entrance. The photograph was
apparently taken from a building across the street from the hotel.
The Metropolitan was built in 1870. When the Southern Pacific railroad
built its depot at Commercial Street where
Benton Avenue ends (in north Springfield), the Ozark House was
built at Commercial and Jefferson to accommodate railway passengers.
The Metropolitan, or "Met" Hotel was built on College Street in
the old town to compete with the Ozark House. When it was erected
it was the finest hotel in the area with high ceilings, old-fashioned
bedrooms and a lobby with a grand stairway leading to the office
in the mezzanine. There was a big ballroom on the mezzanine floor,
which was used as a dining room during the day. Formal balls and
receptions were held in the ballroom for many years around the turn
of the century. The building was the second in Springfield to contain
an elevator (the first being the Baker Block building.)
Colonel F.S. Jones, a former Civil War officer, organized a company
to build the hotel. Businesses on the four principal streets leading
from the Public Square were invited
to bid for the location of the hotel. The street bidding the most
money would get the hotel. College Street's was the second highest
bid at $31,150 to South's high bid of $34,250. However, College
Street just off the Square was chosen as the site for the hotel.
St. Louis Street was third in the bidding
with $26,500 and apparently Boonville made no bid at all.
The Post Office and the Western Union office were located in the
Metropolitan Hotel for a time. Sometime around 1900 John O'Day,
Springfield financier, purchased the building. It went into bankruptcy
in 1908 while it was owned by John Irving Pearce Jr. under the name
"Costello Hotel Company." The 67-year-old building was torn down
in 1937 to be replaced by another modern hotel in the same lot.
The later Metropolitan hotel was demolished in June of 1954.