The Elms Hotel and Spa
The Elms, today
Backstory and Context
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the idea of a “first-class”, health resort became very popular in the United States. Individuals wanted to travel to locations were they could relax and unwind. The Elms Hotel was one of these locations as it lured in both the rich and famous, as well as the more common citizen, to use their healing mineral water.
The Elms Hotel and Spa was built at 401 Regent Street in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. In 1912, the architecture firm, Jackson and McIlvain, worked to complete a building which continued to provide the feeling of a health resort after the first two buildings had burned. The first Elms was built in 1888 as a wooden structure and was destroyed by fire in 1898. The second building was erected by 1909, but was also suffered the same fate in 1910.
The current Elms hotel is made of limestone and was championed as the place to visit to experience the healing mineral waters. People from all over the nation visited the resort. Throughout its existence, the Elms has hosted numerous famous people, such as Al Capone, “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Jack Dempsey.
However, one of the most notable visits was from President Harry S. Truman, who checked into the hotel on November 2, 1948: election night. Truman felt the need to get away from the high level of stress that he endured while at his campaign headquarters and at his home at 219 N. Delaware in Independence. He checked into room 300 and went to bed at 9 pm. He informed the Secret Service agents that were with him to wake him up if anything important happened. Early the next morning the agents awakened a sleeping Truman and encouraged him to listen to the news on the radio, as it was reported that he had won the 1948 presidential election.
 Harry S Truman Library and Museum, Truman Places Pamphlet