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Hotel Frederick Lobby 1
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The Hotel Frederick has been serving guests since 1905. Now, the Missouri Life staff are proud to call it home.
Since its construction in 1905, the Hotel Frederick in Boonville has been an ever gracious host.
From the wedding receptions and dinner parties that it hosted during its younger days to its later incarnation as a senior living community, the Frederick provided for its tenants. The building underwent major renovations that were completed in 2007, while still preserving the building's rich history. Though now the hotel has been up and running for four years, there were months on end where passersby on the streets of downtown Boonville could hear the roar of sanding machines and electric drills.
It had sat vacant for almost a decade, a crumbling beauty perched above the shores of the Missouri River. In 2004, the campaign to restore the Frederick began in earnest. The city of Boonville was considering a series of downtown renovations, to be paid for with revenue from the nearby Isle of Capri Casino. Economic development director Sarah Gallagher brought in Kansas City developer Adam Jones and his business partner Bob Mayer for a tour of the town. The two identified the Frederick as a potential developmental anchor, the kind of building that could not only help revitalize Boonville but draw attention to the whole of mid-Missouri.
“I saw a wonderful building,” Adam says. “It hadn’t been horribly destroyed. It had interesting architectural features and a real social character that you could feel.”
As consultants, Adam and Bob recommended a full renovation of the hotel.
The city’s response?
“Why don’t you do it for us?”
Restoring the hotel to its past glory wasn’t going to be as easy as applying a fresh coat of paint. But ask Adam’s friends about him and they’ll say that he’s one of a select few who could pull off the project.
“He’s a creative genius,” gushes Kansas City businessman Bill Haw.
Adam and his team of workers went to the considerable effort of reinvigorating the stately old Frederick for the twenty-first century while maintaining its original warmth and character. The payoff was nothing short of immaculate. Beginning with the lobby, the Frederick immediately displays an understated air of sophistication. The black-and-white marble tile floor glistens, chandeliers hang delicately overhead, and the wicker furniture invites a long sit. Straight ahead past the reception desk sits Glenn’s Cafe, an import from Columbia. Residents from there still make the twenty-mile drive out to Boonville to enjoy Glenn’s cuisine. Just outside of the restaurant, a wooden staircase, lit warmly by a stained-glass window on the wall, curves upward to the second floor. The hallways are spacious, with colorful rugs imported from Iran gracing the wood-panel floor.
With a gleam in his eye, Bill calls the Frederick’s twenty-four rooms “the pièce de résistance,” and it’s hard to disagree. Their walls painted in bold, solid colors, the rooms feature unique layouts. Each has its own set of handmade, antique furniture mixed with custom-designed beds, sheets, and lamps. Other amenities include flat-screen televisions, heated towel racks, and the rooms’ original corner sinks. The Hotel Frederick, however, is one of the few places where the bathroom steals the show from the rest of the room. Encased by glass walls with eye-catching floral designs, the bathrooms ratchet up the sense of luxury several notches. They integrate seamlessly with the rest of the room to create a complete, aesthetically appealing sight. Each room also boasts its own collection of artwork.
“I said to myself, ‘Wow, how could they make this any better?” says hotel manager Parris Johnson. “Then I saw the art and said, ‘Yeah, it does look better.”
As a whole, the building reflects Adam’s sharp attention to detail and desire to preserve as much of the hotel’s past as possible. That stained-glass window above the staircase was a Hotel Frederick original, painstakingly reconstructed after a storm smashed it to pieces. All of the doors are originals as well, restored, after years of vacancy had warped and eroded them. Several other hotel components were custom-built.
Adam also made extensive use of recycled materials. Those, plus the hotel’s efficient water and heating systems, earned it membership in the environmentally friendly Green Hotels Association. Despite the additional effort these methods required, Jones believes it pays off.
“Things that are handmade feel and act differently from things that are machine-made,” Adam says. “Old buildings are essentially massive, handmade objects. They exude warmth.”
Of course, the detail-oriented approach also kicked up the cost of the renovation, the first phase of which required nearly $3.5 million. The city of Boonville provided $575,000 for initial costs, while Bill—whose cattle ranching business enjoys a national profile—essentially footed the rest of the bill.
Bill “invested a lot of money in this project,” says Boonville City Council member Julie Thacher. “He could have invested it, literally, anywhere in the world. It pleases me that he sees the potential here.”
Bill readily admits that the scale of his investment represents a sizable risk. “Nobody in their right mind would have financed it,” he says. “The track record of large investments in small towns is daunting. As glorious as it is, if it can’t be successfully operated, it has no economic value.”
Bill looked just as carefully at the intangible benefits of restoring the Frederick as at the hard figures involved. Those calculations included the hotel’s history and its standing in the Boonville community. Of course, he hopes that the hotel proves wildly successful, but for now it’s an “economic footprint” in Boonville, one that will provide respect and acclaim to the city. Still, Bill doesn’t want to jump too far ahead.
“We’re totally dependent on renting rooms,” he says. “The potential of that labyrinth of brick rooms downstairs is incredible. You’d have to be blind not to see what it could be. But first we have to make a success out of what we’ve got.”
The Frederick reflects the rich historical traditions of Boonville, and—its developers hope—will continue to play a significant role in the city’s future.
“I’m in awe of what they’re doing,” Julie says. “It has far surpassed anything I had hoped.”
The Hotel Frederick is located at 501 E. High Street at Boonville. Rooms range from $100 to $300 per night. For more information, call 660-882-2828 or visit www.hotelfrederick.com.