Excelsior Springs residents remember heyday of partially collapsed Royal Hotel

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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. — Heavy rain and flooding could have played a part in another building’s partial collapse in the metro.

Tuesday, crews demolished a Kansas City building at 39th and Woodland that had partially collapsed earlier in the day. Wednesday, part of an historic downtown Excelsior Springs hotel collapsed forcing evacuations of nearby apartments and businesses.

The Royal Hotel, built in 1898, has stood in downtown Excelsior Springs at South Street and Marietta Street for more than 120 years. But Wednesday years of rain and perhaps the recent flooding brought part of the hotel crashing to the sidewalk below.

Anna Stalder remembers when the Royal Hotel lived up to its name.

“It was wonderful, the 50s, this town was a booming place,” Stalder recalled.

She worked as a waitress at the six-story 54,000 square foot hotel and the Hotel Oaks across the street. The Oaks is now her home, refurbished into apartments for senior living. But the Royal has been vacant for 20 years.

“At one point they were going to fix everything up and then all that fell through and the rest as they say is history,” she said.

May 21 the city blocked off the sidewalk as bricks started falling from the hotel with a tree growing inside. The city said the problem was caused by “years of water infiltration into the building from the roof.” The city was working with Royal Hotel Properties on a partial demolition plan before a police officer noticed signs of further collapse Wednesday.

“More bricks were starting to fall off until eventually they had that whole southwest corner come down,” Excelsior Springs Police Officer Marcus Champion said.

The new owners announced renovation plans last summer and were applying for historic tax credits according to an Excelsior Springs spokesperson. Residents wonder why something couldn’t have been done sooner to restore the historic building in the same manner the Hotel Oaks next door.

“We’ve had a lot of fun in both of these buildings. It’s just sad that everything has to be left to that point,” Stalder said.

“Whatever happens to it, if it has to be torn down it will be missed. This is a part of history that can never be erased,” Jeremy Fisk said.

Eight people living in the apartments above a barbershop and dress shop across South Street had to be evacuated and are staying at the Elms temporarily. So far the Oaks here hasn’t been affected, but police are urging people to avoid the area until engineers can get a closer look at the structural integrity Thursday.

The following streets and sidewalks within 50 feet are closed: Thompson and River, Thompson and South, Marietta and South, River and Marietta, Marietta and Farris.

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