#199 - Hotel Vandivort in Missouri
Downtown Hotel in Springfield, MO
In September, we stayed in a building that was once a Masonic Temple. That was enough to make the Notable Night List.
Don and I have visited Springfield often in recent years. We've stayed in a Route 66 motel, a charming historic house and a convent, turned into an inn. But this was our first stay in historic downtown Springfield area.
Downtown in 1896
I've got a special curiosity about the history of Old Springfield.
I've been coming to visit relatives, since I was a baby in the 1950's. I've got some fuzzy memories of Downtown Springfield, but not as fuzzy as this photo from 1896... which shows the Ely Grubbs Grocery Store that my great grandfather owned.
Masonic Temple Today
The grocery is gone, as far as I know. Don and I couldn't find a building that matched the photo.
But the 1906 building that hosted Masons for about 80 years, welcomed us inside.
Don and I parked in front and approached the hotel with our bags. There were two entrances.
The back was intriguing with its giant "V" and modern balconies. There was a very cozy sitting area there as well.
The Front "V"
We headed to the glass doors in front. The giant V automatically split in half, when we got close. Inside the lobby, we headed past a modern stairwell, towards the front desk.
Another large V awaited us. It seemed to be spilling out of a large frame, along with lots of greenery.
Later when I explored the basement and burned a few calories in the small gym, I admired the V-Art from the bottom of the stairs.
As I climbed up, the enormous V, stared down from it's green jungle. Very dramatic!
V For Vandivort
I have no clue who Vandivort was, but the hotel is named for the Vandivort Ballroom on the fourth floor.
The ballroom space has been hosting Springfield social events for over 100 years. I wish my grandparents were still alive to possibly share a story or two. From the windows I could see Walnut Street, where some of my relatives once lived.
I was impressed by every corner of the first floor.
I loved the artwork above the fireplace and the bright light coming in the front window.
Some of the sleek furniture lines made me feel like I'd stepped into the 1950's again.
My family was never quite so mod, but my Great Aunt Margueritte might have gone for this look.
Evidently, the communal tables were made from wood that was part of this building at one time.
The tables looked almost too nice to use. But I did see a few people gathered around with computers, on Monday morning.
Spotlight on the Masons
I totally loved this display with all the tiny tools, photos and artifacts.
I know little about the history of the Mason's fraternal organization, but obviously it had some kind of roots with actual stonemasons.
What Is A Mason?
Luckily they had a little info to enlighten me. There was a lot to ponder with this special statement about the duties of a Mason.
Mostly I had fun with all the words, level, plumb, grip, order. Like an Easter egg hunt, I could have spent hours hunting down related images on shelves and in art, all around the hotel.
Every time I spotted a "V" I was like a little kid, eager about discovering the alphabet.
The engineer side of Don was probably having more fun than me. Every time I asked a question like, What exactly does a plumb bob do? Don had an answer.
After checking in with a very pleasant young woman at the desk, we headed for the elevator. As we lifted to the fourth floor, we had a fun time watching the brick wall through the glass. The painted brick let us know which floors we were passing.
The classy hallway was filled with intriguing art and fun lighting. I was like a kid, eager to see what was behind the door.
I was pretty giddy over the soaring ceiling. I needed a Mason's measuring tool. Was that ceiling 20 feet high?
I'm not used to having one window above another. That was curious. They even had buttons to open and close the light shade or the black outs shade.
The bathroom was heavenly. There were luxurious bath products and towels and seersucker & terry robes.
The sound system in the bathroom just about gave me a heart attack, though... when Don turned on the TV.
Lounging Near the Window
There wasn't a big sitting area, but the chair near the window was cozy.
The view wasn't spectacular, but it was fun to see old buildings and to know that my grandparents probably knew some of them.
There was another comfy desk chair available and a great wet bar with some fun local goodies to chose from. We could have had some Missouri Spirits Vodka or Bourbon... for a price.
Spirits in "The Order"
We chose to have a drink in the hotel bar instead. I loved the Masonic name, The Order.
It was pretty quiet on a Sunday evening, but the young bartender was chatty and we got to watch her roll the library ladder back and forth a few times.
Our room was nice and quiet by the time we finally hit the bed. The bedding was perfect.
The pillows were just right. I even liked the lamps! I did wake in the wee hours to the clanking of the trash truck. But that's part of the city charm... I guess.
Our room came with a $12.00 voucher towards breakfast.
We made use and enjoyed an omelet with fruit and potatoes, plus an order of chicken waffle sliders!
After breakfast, we gave ourselves a little time to explore before taking off.
Next door we had the beautiful theatre and down the street I posed with a butterfly mural. What a perfect ending to our quick 1-night stay.
We got to stay at an upscale, urban, boutique hotel... in a small city. It felt "city hip" without the headaches or cost. We parked for free on the street and wandered safely.
When I left my purse at the bar, a local guest ran over to the pizza cafe and delivered it to me. That was my reminder... that we were in Springfield!
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My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!