HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
Colonial Hotel (view 1 of 2)
The 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 1997.
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."