Vinepair put out a new list of the oldest hotels in every state. For Missouri, the hotel is where you might get scared out of bed.

I'm talking about Elms Hotel and Spa outside Kansas City, in Excelsior Springs. It's about 85 miles from Sedalia down Highway 50, then Missouri 13. Vinepair says it's the oldest hotel in Missouri and one of our state's most haunted places. Not only are those two things, but the Elm's has hosted prominent guests, including President Harry Truman, Al Capone, and gambler Bugsy Morgan.

The story of Elms Hotel and Excelsior Springs started when spring water from the bank of a nearby river healed Travis Mellion's daughter Opal, who was suffering from tuberculosis. When word of the young woman's healing spread, the spring water treated every ailment, from bad joints to Civil War wounds.

Pastor John Van Buren Flack and Anthony Wyman saw the tourist potential for the area, developed the land, and formed the town of Excelsior Springs.

The first Elms Hotel opened in the late 1800s. Ten years later, it burned. The second building on the site opened on July 31, 1909, only to burn on October 30, 1910. The current hotel, constructed of native limestone, opened on September 7, 1912, boasting grand ballrooms and inviting verandas.

Over the years, the hotel has weathered much history. It was known as a health resort during the Roaring 20s before filing for bankruptcy during the Great Depression, only to be transformed into a health spa and playground for the well-to-do during the 30s and 40s.


During this era, the hotel catered to many people, including prominent citizens on both sides of the law. President Truman stayed at the hotel, as did crime figures like Al Capone, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, and Bugsy Moran. These mobsters reportedly (according to the hotel's website) hosted illegal gambling and bathtub gin parties at the hotel. During one police bust, the Governor of Missouri was found to be in attendance and told the officers to go out and bust someone who was "really breaking the law."

The 1950s brought the corporate convention to The Elms and the reputation of being the hotel for weddings and honeymoons. By the 60s, however, the hotel had gone through a series of owners and was marked as a motor inn and a Sheraton Hotel before closing in 1970.

In 1981, the Elms reopened under new ownership and has been going for the past 44 years. Sure, there have been ups and downs and another bankruptcy. Yet today, the Elms Hotel & Spa features spectacular amenities and gracious service.

So what about the hauntings? That's what's weird about the Elms Hotel: it is haunted. Yet, information on who is doing the haunting isn't the easiest to find, and it's not dead from the hotel fires because, miraculously, there were no fatalities.

I had to dig deep to find out who does the haunting. According to Legends of America, the lap pool in the basement is haunted by a man who was killed by the mob during one of those all-night gambling parties. A benevolent ghost in a 1920s-style maid uniform haunts the third floor, and a third ghost wanders the hotel.

The maid ghost is said to be benevolent, only ensuring housekeepers do an excellent job. The ghost wandering the hotel is said to be a distressed woman looking for her child. She's been known to pull people's hair or throw items across the room. As for the man in the basement, there wasn't a report about how this man goes about his haunting.

If you're looking for haunted fun, The Elms Hotel offers a paranormal tour package with an overnight stay and tickets to their nightly 9:00 PM CST Paranormal Tour. You can find more information here. Remember to tip the housekeeping staff generously; the ghost maid will approve.

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