HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
Kentwood Arms Hotel
This 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 operation.
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.