By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
January 25, 2017
Often called enigmatic and eccentric and known by his friends as a horrible driver, architect Louis Singleton Curtiss darted about the Kansas City area around the turn of the 20th Century, dressed in starched white shirts, smoking monogrammed Turkish cigarettes.
His architectural influences were varied, and his residential designs often bore design elements of Prairie School, Craftsman and Art Nouveau influences. Curtiss designed several houses in the Kansas City area, including many in the West Heights Manor area of Kansas City, Kan., and the Bernard Corrigan home at 55th Street and Ward Parkway. His lone residential design in Historic Northeast still stands at 414 S. Gladstone Blvd., a Prairie-style, buff-brick Four-Square designed for Porte Haven, an executive with the Fidelity Oil Company.
One of Curtiss’ most stunning commercial designs was the Baltimore Hotel, conceived after Curtiss returned from a trip to Europe in 1898. It was a project of the Corrigan Estate and was Curtiss’ final project before chartering his own design firm. Originally designed as a six-story building, the Baltimore’s lavish trappings quickly drew a wealthy clientele. Two stories were added during the first expansion in 1902, then in 1904, a second addition extended the structure 40 additional feet south, toward 12th Street.
In 1907 the hotel underwent a massive expansion, extending all the way to 12th Street and half a block east toward Main Street. An imposing entrance was constructed on the 12th Street side of the hotel, shown here on this postcard. The Pompeian Room was the hotel’s most popular and elegant dining spot, featuring a fountain made entirely of imported Carrara marble and massive marble columns capped with gold leafed capitals. Sadly, the hotel closed in 1938 during the waning years of the depression, and most of the fitments and furnishings were sold at auction prior to its razing in 1939.
A four-story parking garage was built on the site, then razed in the late 1960s to make way for the construction of City-Center Square.
Louis Singleton Curtiss died at his drafting table in 1924. According to staff at Mount Washington cemetery, Curtiss lies in an unmarked grave on a hillside in Lot 21 of the Garden of Faith.
Baltimore Hotel stunned around turn of the century
By MICHAEL BUSHNELL