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Investors built several luxury hotel-apartments in the area around Kanas City's Hyde Park in the 1920s, and the Bellerive stood as one of the largest and most luxurious of these. Located among mansions on Armour Boulevard, the Bellerive was a desired address for people on the make and numerous celebrities and dignitaries stayed at the Bellerive in the early 20th century. Guests were attracted to the hotel for its luxuriant decor and first-class service, with cooks, servers, maids, doormen, and bellmen on call twenty-four hours a day. The hotel also had six dining rooms, and an indoor automobile garage, which was a unique feature in the early 1920s. Leading musicians of the era performed at the hotel's Casbah Lounge, including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Bob Hope. Thanks to a renovation project in 2013, the building which mixes limestone with brick and terra cotta continues to operate today as the Bellerive Apartments.

Bellerive Hotel

Bellerive Hotel

Bellerive Hotel postcard (likely from the 1920s).

Bellerive Hotel postcard (likely from the 1920s)

The Bellerive Hotel, built in 1922, stood as the largest luxury apartment hotel built during a significant period of the development of Armour Boulevard. While many apartment hotels were built on Broadway and other parts on the northern edge of Hyde Park during that era catered to the upper-middle class and wealthy, Bellerive proved popular with the wealthy and elites. Still, like the Broadway apartment-hotels, guests enjoyed the amenities, proximity to the city, and flexibility (no leases or mortgages). The apartment hotels stood amidst several large mansions built by some of Kansas City's wealthiest business leaders during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

In the early 1920s, beginning with the Bellerive Hotel, a row of luxury high-rise hotels and apartment buildings arose on Armour Boulevard. Named for St. Ange de Bellerive, the first military commandant and acting governor of St. Louis (he died in 1774), The Bellerive Hotel opened at a time when Kansas City enjoyed robust population growth, which coincided with a boom in apartment and apartment-hotel construction. Between 1910 and 1930, the city's population increased by 150,000 to nearly 400,000 residents. From 1920 to 1929, 15,152 new apartment units and 1,092 new duplex units came on the market, with more than 300 constructed between 1922 and 1923. 

Bellerive stood as the largest and most richly decorated when it opened. The hotel cost $2 million to construct (worth more than $30 million in 2021). The hotel catered to those seeking luxurious accommodations, including numerous celebrities and dignitaries that stayed at Bellerive. Perks included luxuriant decor, maids, doormen, and bellmen working twenty-four hours a day, six dining rooms, and an indoor automobile garage which was unique for the early 1920s. A twenty-first-century renovation project, completed in 2013, restored the hotel building to its original grandeur. Today, it operates as the Bellerive Apartments. 

"Bellerive Hotel." Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri. Accessed August 13, 2021.

Davidson, Lisa Pfueller. "A Service Machine": Hotel Guests and the Development of an Early-Twentieth-Century Building Type." Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 10 (2005): 113-29. 

Michalak, Joan L. "Nomination Form: Bellerive Hotel." National Register of Historic Places. 1980. 

Midtown KC Post 

Party at the Bellerive, renovation invokes its rich past

Image Sources(Click to expand)

By Mwkruse - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri.