The Muehlebach Hotel is a historic hotel building in Downtown Kansas City that was visited by every President from Theodore Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan. It is currently operated as one of three wings of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown.
The original 12-story building was constructed in 1915. It was designed by Holabird & Roche and was 144 feet (44m) high and owned by George E. Muehlebach, whose father, George E. Muehlebach Sr., founded the Muehlebach Beer Company. The younger Muehlebach also built Muehlebach Field, which achieved its greatest prominence under the ownership of Barney Allis.
In 1952 a 17-story western annex and parking lot were added. The entire hotel underwent a major restoration in 1976 and operated for a time as the flagship of the Radisson hotel chain under the name Radisson Muehlebach Hotel before finally closing in the 1980s.
Operation as a wing of the Marriott Kansas City Downtown
In 1996 Marriott Hotels bought the Muehlebach and made it into an extension of the Kansas City Marriott Downtown, a huge adjacent hotel originally built in 1985 as the Vista International Hotel. They imploded the 1952 Muehlebach Towers annex building and in 1998 built a new, modern tower in its place. The original Muehlebach building was carefully restored, including the original lobby at 12th and Baltimore Street. This historic lobby is still accessible, but is no longer in use for guest registration.
Barbershop Harmony Society
The Barbershop Harmony Society (SPEBSQSA, Inc.) traces its beginnings to a chance meeting in 1938 in the Muehlebach's lobby between two businessmen from Tulsa, Oklahoma. The two found two other men and sang their way through a snowstorm that had marooned all four at the hotel. A few weeks later, they convened several like-minded singers at a meeting in Tulsa, and from that the 25,000 member international organization was founded. The two businessmen's original meeting is now commemorated on a plaque in the restored original lobby of the hotel.
Truman stayed in Independence but conducted business in the Presidential Suite in the hotel's penthouse. Truman predicted his upset victory to staffers at the hotel during election night 1948 (although he spent the night out of the media spotlight at the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri). The Presidential Suite was later renamed the Harry S. Truman Presidential Suite following his terms of office.
Immediately following the 1976 Republican Convention, Robert A. Heinlein was the Guest of Honor at the 34th World Science Fiction Convention held at the Muehlebach. He was booked in the hotel's Harry S. Truman Presidential Suite for the 4-day convention held during the 1976 Labor Day weekend.