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.

  • Troost Lake connects to streetcar, Mormon histories

    July 26th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Opening to the public in 1888, Troost Park and adjoining Troost Lake were the ideas of the Kansas City Cable Railway Company (later known as the Kansas City


    The wild waters of pre-levee Kansas City

    July 19th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Published by the North American Postcard Company of Kansas City, Mo., this week’s card is a Real Photo Postcard showing the West Bottoms area looking northwest toward the


    Christmas in July

    July 12th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This week, a rare treat — a Real Photo postcard showing a newly completed Penn Valley Drive in Penn Valley Park, Kansas City, Mo.


    Bible College once served Historic Northeast

    July 6th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Established in 1890 as a school for “girls,” the Scarritt Bible and Training Institute was located at Harris (now Norledge Avenue) and Askew avenues in Historic Northeast Kansas


    Celebrating with Uncle Sam: Happy Fourth of July!

    June 28th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Historians aren’t completely certain how the legendary character Uncle Sam was created, or for whom (if anyone) he was named.


  • Kansas City’s old Convention Hall

    June 21st, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This week, we feature a rare advertising postcard showing the old Convention Hall, which was destroyed by fire in early April 1900 — just 90 days prior to


    Century-old view of KC from river

    June 14th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Kansas City’s riverfront on the Missouri River is pictured in this old, turn-of-the-century postcard published by The Southwest News Company of Kansas City.


    Viaduct connected Kansas cities

    June 7th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This postcard, titled “United States Troops Crossing Intercity Viaduct, Kansas City, Mo.,” shows what seems to be an unending column of Army troops crossing the then-newly constructed bridge


    ‘The great white city’

    June 1st, 2016
    by

    Northeast News Electric Park was named for the 100,000 electric light bulbs outlining its buildings and rides.


    Thoroughly modern courthouse

    May 25th, 2016
    by

    Northeast News This linen postcard, showing north and west sides of what at the time was the new Jackson County Courthouse and the intersection of 12th and Oak streets, was


  • Local Weather

  • What’s Happening

    KCU first-year med students participate in day of service

    Northeast News July 27, 2016 KANSAS CITY, Missouri – First year medical students at Kansas City University of Medicine and […]

    Northeast’s August 2 Primary Election Preview

    Northeast News MO Senate District 11 John Rizzo - D John Rizzo - D Top priorities: Economic development, education, and protecting worker’s rights Endorsements: Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, Former State Senator Victor

    chronicles

    James “Jim” George Cariddi On Friday, July 15, 2016, former principal James Cariddi passed away due to complications of a stroke at St.