Hall of Waters

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In 1933, legislation was approved so that Excelsior Springs could petition the U.S. Government for a loan and grant through the Public Works Administration. The loan and grant was approved and certified by the supreme court of Missouri in 1935. The project contained an agreement for the city to buy the main mineral water springs and mortgage all of them to the federal government, the mortgage to run until the springs paid off the federal loan, or to be paid by bonds if the springs failed to pay out. Altogether, a million dollars was made available for the construction of the Hall of Waters, purchase of the mineral water rights, and piping of the waters to the bottling facilities within.

Black & Veatch, consulting engineers in Kansas City, were retained to develop the plans for the Mineral Water Development of Excelsior Springs. This involved pipes designed especially for each type of mineral water and a system to bring all of them to the site of the proposed Hall of Waters. From 1936 to 1938, architects Keene & Simpson, along with Erwin Pfhul, structural engineer, and W.L. Cassell, mechanical engineer, and Hare & Hare, landscape architects, created the plans for the Hall of Waters.

A ground-breaking took place in 1936 with a ceremony and the laying of the cornerstone. The structure was partially completed in 1937, when the "Hall of Springs", today known as the water bar opened and the mineral waters were dispensed to visitors and health-seekers. Several weeks later the mineral water pool was opened. In April 1938, separate men's and women's hydrotherapy departments opened. Also in 1938, a Siloam Park Planting Plan was designed by Hare & Hare for the Hall of Waters.

The evidence of the Kessler-designed Siloam Spring Park was beginning to slowly disappear. The new building called for razing of the Siloam Pavilion, just south of Broadway at the entrance to Siloam Park. The Hall of Waters was built over the present Siloam and Sulpho-Saline springs, Siloam spring being located under the front steps. Art Deco style architecture on the interior and exterior was chosen as in keeping with the Mayan Indian tradition relating to water and water gods, see details below.

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Besides the Hall of Springs, a great, two-story hall where all of the mineral waters were made available at fountains, the first floor contained the women's bath department, a sunroom, a covered porch, a grand foyer, offices for the management of the springs and for the chamber of commerce. The swimming pool, 30' x 75', met the A.A.U. regulations for championship events and was located on a lower floor, that opened to outdoor terraces. The balcony around the pool could seat 500 persons. Adjoining the pool in the south wing was a special hydrotherapy department, devoted to research into the uses of the waters and treatment of chronic cases of different ailments on prescriptions of licensed physicians. The bottling department was located on the east side of the north wing. Five varieties of mineral water were bottled in the Hall of Waters Processing and Bottling Plant and shipped, literally, all over the world.

In 1955, due to flooding problems, much of the remaining stone terraces and walkways in Siloam Park were eliminated and a dike was constructed south of the Hall of Waters to protect it from Fishing River. In the late 50's and early 60's, popularity of the spa began to wane when local clinics faced difficulties. In 1967, the mineral water bottling operation was at a loss of $25,000 per year and it was suggested that it was time the city put its mineral water past out of the picture and forge ahead to new horizons. Local citizens failed to heed to suggestions and urged the city to continue bottling the mineral waters.

A serious setback was dealt the mineral water bottling operation in 1971 when the state health agency ruled the community must stop bottling water. Bottling and capping was at that time done by hand -- a violation of state law. Three months later, new bottling equipment arrived and the entire operation was moved to a facility on Isley Boulevard, across the Fishing River to the south, directly behind the Hall of Waters. Eventually the bottling operation was closed. The 80's saw an increase in the natural mineral water industries popularity and efforts have continued to recapture the mineral water market and spa baths by enticing private investors. In the latter part of the 80's, Dr. John Teale, a local chiropractor, made improvements to the bath departments at the Hall of Waters and operated the spas successfully. In early 1989, improvements were made at the Hall of Waters for bottling the waters, in a working agreement with Waters of America, a Springfield based company. The out-of-town ownership was not a profitable one and soon closed. Presently the water bar and bath department in the Hall of Waters are open to the public and sampling and sale of the mineral waters is made available through an agreement with local owners, Robert and Vicki Bates. City offices are housed at the Hall of Waters, including council and court chambers.

A downtown community development block grant enabled restoration to sections of the Hall of Waters in the early 90's, including window replacement in the water bar area, tuckpoint, cleaning and sealing of the exterior facade, glass block repair to the tower, upgrading the elevator to meet ADA standards, skylight improvements, upgrade to entrance doors, restroom, electrical and plumbing.

Voters approved Capital Improvement funding for restoration work to the swimming pool. The Capital Improvements Authority approved allocating $155K to start the renovation of the pool. Before any work was started, the City had an opportunity to receive a grant with matching funds, and the CIA approved reallocating part of the pool funding temporarily in order to receive the grant. In 2003, CIA restored the funding to the pool. Currently, CIA has approved a study that will determine what the full cost of pool restoration will be as well as the cost of a new Community Center.

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The Hall of Waters was placed on the Clay County Historical Landmark Register in 1981 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 9, 1983.

Mineral Water Wells

Click here for a complete listing of the mineral water springs and wells.