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Elms Addition Platted; third Elms Hotel waits on sell

In early 1907, plans were underway to rebuild the third and present Elms Hotel and plat the Elms addition to Excelsior Springs by the Elms Realty Company of Excelsior Springs, Mo. The Elms Realty Company was comprised of four owners: Issie J. Ringolsky, Kansas City, Mo., held 497 of 500 shares; Edwin J. Becker, Kansas City, Mo., held one share; M. F. Ringolsky, Kansas City, Mo., held one share; and B. Van de Greyn, Excelsior Springs, Mo., held the remaining share. J. Q. Craven & W. T. McRorey, local realtors, were appointed as agents for the property.

"The prices at which the lots will be offered will include the cost of street improvements, sidewalks, paving, sewer, gas and water pipes, so that purchasers will have thoroughly modern and up-to-date property." said Mr. McRorey, according to a Excelisor Springs Daily Call article, Thursday, Feb. 14, 1907. "There will be restrictions in the deeds against saloons, livery, sale or feed stables, laundries, blacksmith shops, etc. This will make sure that the new addition will always be an attractive part of town, with no blots on it. Lots 25 to 30 in block A and lots 1 to 10 in block B have been reserved for residence purposes and will be sold with a restriction for a building line 15 feet from the street."

The property was sold with the promise that a hotel to cost not less than $100,000 would be built on the ground reserved for that purpose. E. J. Becker, secretary of the Elms Hotel and realty company, told the Daily Call that a St. Louis architect was at work on the hotel plans. By March, it was announced that the architect of the new hotel, Louis Curtiss of Kansas City, promised sketches of the hotel plans by the first week of April and it was expected that work would start on the hotel before the middle of April. At this time, J. E. Welch of Kansas City was preparing for the asphalt street pavement and sidewalks throughout the Elms addition. As promised, by April, plans for the new hotel were done, however, work on the hotel would have to wait until all of the lots in the Elms addition were sold, according to an agreement between developers I. J. Ringolsky and J. H. White and the City of Excelsior Springs. In addition, the necessary revenue to build the hotel was tied to the sell of these properties.

Two year's later in 1909, the first house was built on Elms Boulevard. Samuel Rowell, a prominent citizen of Excelsior Springs during the community's formative years and mayor from 1909-1910, built a bungalow-style home at 517 Elms Boulevard. Other homes were soon to follow, but the hotel plans would be on hold for several more years.

"We have secured the loan," Ringolsky told the Daily Call on June 28, 1911, "the lease has been signed with Willis Wood and John Emmke, and the contract is all ready to be signed, but we haven't the necessary money to complete the building even with the loan, and unless we can convert our lots here into cash, it is useless to figure on starting the work this year. We want to build after the plans prepared by Jackson & McIlvain, but if we are forced to wait another year we will be compelled to build a smaller hotel, the money for which we can borrow at almost any time."

"If we can't close our contract with the Swenson Construction Co. by July 1, we are fearful that all the concrete work cannot be completed before cold weather, and that would mean a delay of almost a year in opening the hotel," Ringolsky continued. " Now don't say Ringolsky didn't do his part, for everything is ready as soon as you people come up to your part of the agreement of last fall."

Ten men joined as a pool in response to Ringolsky's cry and took over $7,500 worth of the property and included P.B. Doniphan, A. M. Howard, F. W. Kienzle, Dr. W. J. James, Dr. E. Lowery, W. E. Templton, E. L. Morse, S. G. Johnson, J. M. Lamar, and S. H. Snavely. Remaining were lots on Regent avenue to be sold at $375 each. At 1:30 p.m. June 29, J.Q. Cravens proclaimed, "Thank goodness, it's all over." The remaining lots on Regent avenue had been purchased and the third Elms Hotel could begin construction. The remaining investors were Dr. W. A. Bell, W. A. J. Bell, McDavid Brothers, Dr. M. A. Ashley, Dr. H. J. Clark, John S. Lewis, C. D. Wale, W. E. Steck, Swenson Construction Co., Dr. T. N. Bogart, Dr. W. S. Woods, and E. L. Morse. That morning, Col. Willis Wood and J. H. White came from Kansas City and accepted all the contracts, then hurried back on the 1:20 p.m. train to get things started for the construction of the hotel.

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Elms Boulevard platting done by landscape architect George Kessler

In 1911, condemnation of property along Fishing River and surrounding prominent springs was underway so that the City of Excelsior Springs could develop an extensive park and boulevard system. The law permitting third class cities to purchase and maintain lands for park purposes was passed by legislature in 1909 at the request of the city. It was patterened after the Kansas City park law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court after one of the hardest fights ever engaged in by the city at the mouth of the Kaw.

Instrumental in the development was renowned landscape artist George E. Kessler, who served several private local developers as well, consulting from 1902 through 1919. Kessler's plan for Siloam Spring Garden included the design of the Siloam Spring Pavilion and the Sulpho-Saline Spring Pavilion or Ettenson Pavilion. He also worked on the development of the Fishing River Parkway, a park and boulevard system, the Excelsior Springs Golf Club, and sites for the Carnegie Library and the Masonic building.

B. Van de Greyn, one of the four men who formed the Elms Realty Company, was also the City Engineer for Excelsior Springs, as noted in a September, 1906, letter to George Kessler. Van de Greyn submitted a topographic map to Kessler of the Elms Tracts, apparently in response to a request by Kessler. I. J. Ringolsky wrote at about the same time that the engineer's work was complete and he was awaiting full information from Kessler about the landscaping and platting the old "Elms Site" at Excelsior Springs. "I think we have now agreed upon a plat following your suggestion that will give us the largest possible amount of frontage on the streets that could possibly have been obtained out of the ground we have there for sale," stated a December 1, 1906 letter to Kessler from Ringolsky. The finished work from Kessler was received on November 18, 1908:

Mr. I. J. Ringolsky,
Excelsior Springs, Mo.

Dear Sir:

After going thoroughly over the matter of subdivision in the vicinity of the Elms Hotel with Mr. Kessler, I have completed two plats in accordance with his instructions, and forward prints of same, together with topographic map made by E. Van de Greyn.

On sketch "A" we have shown lots facing upon an interior street throughout the length of the property as well as upon Kansas City Avenue. This is a perfectly feasible scheme, but if the road is built upon good lines it will doubtless be necessary to destroy much of the natural beauty now existing along the water course, which would have to be entirely eliminated.

As an alternative we suggest that, with the exception of the portion in the immediate vicinity of the Hotel, you should utilize the Kansas City Avenue frontage only, leaving the water course and the natural features entirely unmolested, in which case the present vegetation would entirely block out any possible unfortunate view of rear or side property lines. This would of course be the more economical plan as far as construction is concerned and it will remain for you to act on your own judgement as to whether the more difficult plan as shown in the other sketch will be warranted in the difference in cost of construction as well as in the ground taken from the hotel.

Should these sketches not entirely meet your requirements kindly advise us, and we will be glad to go into the matter further, but we take it that in any event the exact distances will have to be left to the local engineer in as much as the plat is only drawn to scale and no figures given.

Yours very truly,
Geo. E. Kessler & Cop

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