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Coates House Hotel
Coates House Hotel
TitleCoates House Hotel
DescriptionPostcard of the Coates House Hotel
Historical ArticleThis was one of the many views of the Coates House Hotel printed on early-day post cards. This one, published by the Southwest News Company and produced in Leipzig, Germany, is postmarked Feb.. 17, 1908.

A granddaughter of Kersey Coates, 91-year-old Laura Reed Yaggy, of Hutchinson, Kan., said she had trouble sleeping the night she read the newspapers telling of the Coates House fire (in 1978) because of so many memories. She later told Chris Colladay, a reporter for the Hutchinson News something of the old hostelry. Part of her story follows:

Foundation for the Coates House was laid some time before the Civil War, but was boarded over and used for cavalry barns and barracks during the war.. The hotel was called the New Coates House, so named after grandfather purchased sole interest from his two partners. (However it was still in the process of being remodeled at the time of Coates' death in 1887.)

His widow and family finished the remodeling and the grand opening was held. There were 90 at the ceremony and 300 at the reception. The hotel had beautiful rooms--everybody always stopped there.

When my mother was a little girl she got a book of Shakespeare's sonnets bound in white leather. When she knew someone famous was coming to the hotel, she sent it over there for signatures.

I can see it all now--the florist shop out in front and a fine bonnet shop, Turkish baths with marble in the basement. It was a lovely place to dance and had an enormous dining room.

The hotel and opera house (across the street) were so close together it made them both very interesting...kind of a good combination.

William Jennings Bryan's first campaign stop was at the hotel. I stood right close to him on the balcony and as far as you could see the streets were completely jammed. There were no microphones, no way to amplify, but he reached out a half block all the way around.

They got things live then. If they wanted to make turtle soup, they would get a big live turtle. Once my parents took us over and we, my brother, Homer Reed, and I, rode around on the turtle's back.

Mrs. Yaggy said that when her grandfather came to Kansas City in 1854 the population was only 750. A native of Philadelphia, Coates had gone to Andover Law School and then studied law with Thaddeus Stevens in Philadelphia.

Coates came to Kansas City by wagon train to attend to financial interests of some Philadelphia clients, and also to look into the situation regarding the rumblings of the Civil War.

He was very much interested in the free-slavery business when he decided to go west, Mrs. Yaggy said. And there were no railroads. It took grandfather two weeks to travel from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Later he went back to Philadelphia to marry his sweetheart.

Besides the hotel, he had a number of other business interests. An attorney, he was also in the real estate business, started the first bank in Kansas City and was president of one of the first railroads in the city. He spent a great deal of time in Washington in order to get the railroads to come through Kansas City. He also started the store, Coates & Bullene, later called Bullene and Emery and finally Emery Bird Thayers.

Today, this famous old hotel and Kansas City landmark is being offered for sale by the Historic Kansas City Foundation.

Kansas City Times
March 7, 1981

AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local SubjectHotels
Coates House Hotel
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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