Last Saturday some of the Greenbriar gang took a trip to Excelsior Springs, Missouri. On our trip we stopped by the historic Elms Hotel and Spa, which was the ol’ stomping grounds of such famous/infamous characters such as Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Bugs Moran, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, Al Capone, and even President Franklin Roosevelt. This hotel was the plush-living resort for many spa seekers wanting to bathe and bask in the natural therapeutic properties of the 20 different natural springs in this area. In addition to the springs, this thriving resort town offered a plethora of amenities for the rich and the famous to enjoy. During “The Great Depression,” the town was chosen by Franklin Roosevelt, and frequent spring bather, to be part of the Public Works Projects to build a “Hall of Waters,” which showcased the variety of spring waters and their healthful properties.
Jump forward to today, and the Hall of Waters no longer functions as a mineral water showcase, but rather a showcase of the history of the town of Excelsior Springs. We spent our afternoon visiting and learning about the unique history of this hidden gem! As we perused the wonderful halls and corridors of this elaborate deco-designed building you couldn’t help but imagine what the place would have been like in full-swing! Fortunately, resident Ralph Ireland spent some time in Excelsior Springs in the summer of 1945 after returning to his home in Clay County, Missouri after World War II. In addition to the informative wall labels of this museum we were accompanied by a living-history guided tour by Ralph and his experiences in Excelsior Springs. His stories really made the museum come to life. As they say, “if they walls could talk,” but this day…if even for a moment… you almost thought that they could. This experience was a great opportunity for the residents to learn and reminisce about the history of Excelsior Springs together!
We tip-toed down town for a bite to eat and took in a local favorite, Ray’s Hamburgers! This hidden treasure is serving up a hearty helping of nostalgia with the greatest tasting cheeseburgers in the county! Since 1934, this town favorite has been a local hub for community meals and when you dine in Ray’s, you can’t help but feel like a native. Everyone greats you with a smile and a handshake and is quick to get your name. If you are a stranger to Excelsior Springs, you won’t be for long at Ray’s! This day was one not soon to be forgotten by the residents. As Ralph best said, “today…it was like time-traveling, in my mind!”