No event is better remembered in Kansas City’s haunted history than the disastrous 1978 fire at the Coates Hotel. The flames burned their way through the once-sophisticated hotel that night in the Quality Hill area, leaving a spiritual scar on the building that would forever remain.
The nearly two dozen tormented souls that lost their lives still remain, trapped in the amber glow of a fire long gone. Their shadows are seen along the walls and manifest themselves through animalistic noises emanating from appliances and electronics.
A dim light still shines inside the building, a beacon of what once was one of the finest hotels in a tumultuous border city. The hotel once served as a Union stronghold during the Civil War and later a temporary residency for some of the most well-known American leaders of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Please look inside the scarred remains of the Coates Hotel with us and see for yourself. Kansas City’s most haunted hotel is only one of many stops along a haunted ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures. Book your new favorite paranormal experience today!
Kansas City was incorporated in 1853, and four years later, the Coates Hotel began its historic rise to fame. However, the newly formed city was just as divided as the rest of the nation, causing problems for Colonel Shalor Winchell Eldridge and his opulent Broadway Hotel, the future Coates Hotel.
Both Union and Confederate sympathizers called the small city on the Missouri River home, flocking to the city in large numbers during the time of westward expansion. This led to the largest battle of the Civil War west of the Mississippi, The Battle of Westport, in October of 1864.
During these trying times, the unfinished Broadway Hotel was used as a Union stronghold, and the foundation was used as a military barrack.
The hotel was finally finished after the war, but the lingering sentiments of the lost cause did not dissipate with the newly constructed nation. Eldridge was an ardent supporter of the Union and had a strong stance against slavery. His other property, The Eldridge Hotel, was bombarded by rebel cannons and set ablaze after the war, leading to its eventual destruction.
In 1870, landowner, railroad promoter, and Union leader Colonel Kersey Coates took over the Broadway Hotel from a terrified Colonel Eldridge. Coates kept his head out of politics as the tensions of the Civil War diminished and managed to build up the Broadway Hotel to the grandeur that Eldridge had imagined.
He played a large role in developing Kansas City’s Quality Hill area and also constructing the Coates Opera House.
The Coates Hotel was the center of the newly prominent neighborhood and was considered Coates’s greatest achievement. He died on the 24th of April, 1887. Six months later, President Grover Cleveland and his wife came to visit. He would be the first of many presidents to grace the hotel’s Victorian splendor.
As the Victorian era changed Kansas City, so too did the Coates Hotel change with it. Coates’s family, spearheaded by his widow, tore down the hotel in 1888. It was rebuilt and christened the New Coates Hotel, complete with numerous entertainment and leisure amenities.
Guests could now clean themselves in the hotel’s Turkish baths, trim their hair at the barbershop, and find just the right hat afterward at the bonnet shop.
These good times lasted decades, and the hotel flourished. But all good things must come to an end. By the 1960s, many urban Kansas City residents had fled to the suburbs, and the hotel fell into disrepair.
It had become a low-income housing complex, allowing short renters to pay as little as $12 a night for a bed. Most of its tenants were homeless and desperate, and many are still trapped here today.
The Coates Hotel was barely standing when a fire ravaged its once glamorous hallways on January 28th, 1978. The fire began at 4 a.m., leaving many of the poor and poverty-stricken tenants little time to react.
Winter in Kansas City can be unbearably brutal, and the forceful and frosty winds only fueled the flames. As firefighters arrived, they witnessed many tenants freezing on the sidewalk as they watched their former home burn. They saw others jumping perilously out of the upper-story windows, choosing a quick death at the hands of the concrete over an excruciating one in the flames.
It took the fire department four hours to extinguish the flames, and when they were done, they found over twenty bodies inside, burnt to a crisp.
The building lay abandoned for many years. There were stories of shadow figures appearing in the windows and screams emanating from the building late at night. But in 1984, the McCormack Baron Salazar company purchased it, renovating and restoring it to its former brilliance.
It is now luxury apartments and condos in the affluent Quality Hill area. But a facelift can not remove the scars left behind from the tragedy.
Tenants of the luxury building see the shadow figures late at night; they move quickly as if trying to escape something that cannot be seen. The strangest thing about these tortured souls is that they have chosen to communicate with living through electronic appliances.
Many turn on their microwaves, ovens, and other devices and are greeted not with a friendly beep but with an otherworldy growl! It has been described as malicious and animalistic.
The Coates Hotel was once Kansas City’s finest hotel, but now it is remembered as its most haunted. There are many more like it, just waiting to be unveiled to the unknowing visitor. Trust US Ghost Adventures to uncover the dark shadow around Kansas City’s spirit world. Take a ghost tour with us to see for yourself!