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.

  • Mt. Washington still a peaceful respite

    November 12th, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News November 12, 2014 This postcard published by the Webb-Freyschlag Mercantile Company shows a peaceful view […]


    Eagle’s lodge once a place of history

    November 5th, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News November 5, 2014 This week we take a look at the Queen Anne-styled James Ogelbay […]


    Haunting Halloween Greetings

    October 28th, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News October 29, 2014 Marked by old greeting postcards like these, the tradition of Halloween traces […]


    KC’s first fire fighters honored

    October 21st, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News October 22, 2014 In March 1867, the Missouri Legislature granted permission to allow Kansas City, […]


    Majestic hours once lived on Armour Blvd

    October 14th, 2014
    by

    This postcard published by the Elite Postcard Company of Kansas City doubles as an advertising postcard for the Jenkins Music […]


  • Parade's a downtown tradition

    October 7th, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News October 8, 2014 This week’s historic postcard is a Real Photo postcard that shows a […]


    It’s American Royal time again!

    September 30th, 2014
    by

    By Michael Bushnell Northeast News October 1, 2014 About two years after the opening of the “new” Hannibal Bridge over […]


    Oldsmobile Rhythmic ride!

    September 23rd, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News September 24, 2014 This marketing postcard was produced by the Oldsmobile Motor Company for Kansas […]


    Brush Creek synonymous with Plaza living

    September 16th, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News September 17, 2014 This Kodachrome postcard published in the late 1950s shows the numerous apartment […]


    Grand Old Opera house

    September 9th, 2014
    by

    By MICHAEL BUSHNELL Northeast News September 10, 2014 The Grand Opera House located at Seventh and Walnut is this week’s […]


  • Local Weather