1978 fire still deadliest in city history

Coat House Postcard

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
February 5, 2014

Thirty six years ago on Jan. 28, 1978, as hotel guests slept in their roughly $1.75 per night beds, fire broke out in the historic Coates House Hotel. It would be almost four hours until the Kansas City Fire Department brought the tragic fire under control in the frigid January temperatures.

The scene resembled a stark palace of ice, smoking ashes and a makeshift morgue nearby where the victims were brought. When all was said and done, 20 people lost their lives and the Salvation Army provided assistance for more than 100 people who were essentially homeless after the fire. It is to this day Kansas City’s deadliest fire in terms of lives lost.

The over-riding question was would what remained of the hulking north portion of the hotel be saved or would it fall victim to the wrecking ball? Fortunately, preservationists ruled the day. In July of 1979, HKCF (Historic Kansas City Foundation) purchased the hotel until a viable buyer-developer could be found. Meanwhile, cleanup began in earnest on the smoke charred timbers and scorched bricks. In 1984, St. Louis-based McCormack-Baron purchased the hotel and began one of the greatest restoration projects of the day. That development spurred the ongoing revitalization of the Quality Hill district.

Today, the Coates House is home to luxury apartments and condominiums and stands as one of the city’s greatest preservation works.

This postcard was published by the E.C. Kropp Company of Kansas City, Mo. It was sent on May 14, 1926, to Miss Dot Hill of St. Louis, Mo. The message reads: “Come up and see my hotel as it is pretty. Love, Aunt Pebble.”

Comments are closed.

  • Roses are red … and pink … and white …

    March 22nd, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News March 22, 2017 Between Oct. 21 and 24 of 1864, the area we now know […]


    Sweet sound of St. Pat’s

    March 15th, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News March 15, 2017 Greeting postcards such as this have long been used to convey greetings […]


    Famed theater designers made mark on Kansas City

    March 8th, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News March 8, 2017 Old Theater architectural enthusiasts throughout Kansas City today can spot a Boller […]


    Alderman Jim’s machine moved Missouri

    March 1st, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News March 1, 2017 This postcard depicts the statue of “Alderman Jim” Pendergast in its original […]


    Kansas City’s first memorial

    February 22nd, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News February 22, 2017 Dedicated on June 2, 1909, the August R. Meyer Memorial, at 10th […]


  • Lagoon & boathouse beautified Swope Park

    February 15th, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News February 15, 2017 One of the most prolific picture postcard publishers in Kansas City at […]


    St. Valentine champions for couples

    February 8th, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News February 8, 2017 Around the year 200, the Roman Emporer Claudius was busy conquering various […]


    From postcards, to war planes, to vacuums — C.U. Williams was entrepreneur

    February 1st, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News February 1, 2017 The Big Blue River starts in southern Johnson County, Kan., where Wolf […]


    Baltimore Hotel stunned around turn of the century

    January 25th, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News January 25, 2017 Often called enigmatic and eccentric and known by his friends as a […]


    No better view west of the Hudson

    January 18th, 2017
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News January 18, 2017 Built in 1906-07 by the Swenson Construction Company at a cost of […]


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    KCMO Council unanimously approves 2017-2018 budget

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News March 25, 2017 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – KCPD will have to manage this upcoming fiscal year […]

    Northeast Newscast Episode 3 w/ Missouri District 19 Representative Ingrid Burnett

    By Paul Thompson Northeast News March 23, 2017 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Another episode of the Northeast Newscast is in […]

    Charges filed in fatal St. Patrick’s Day crash

    By Michael Bushnell Northeast News March 23, 2017 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Charges have been filed in a crash that […]