10 January, 2012 | Historic Renovation

The Rochester Hotel

These days (and for the next 12 months or so) Helix is working on the Highland Place project, currently under construction, which includes the renovation of the historic Rochester Hotel and six houses in the 18th and Vine District. After many years of vacancy and exposure to the elements, the buildings show serious signs of deterioration. This project is extremely important to the 18th and Vine district because these are some of the last historic structures in the district – if they were to be demolished, the district’s historic status could be in jeopardy.

According to the Historic Markers Database, the Rochester, built in 1912-20, was the only hotel in Kansas City, Mo., where visiting African Americans could stay during the 1930s and ’40s. Because it is adjacent to the Mutual Musicians Foundation, this is the place where jazz artists such as Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, and many others would have stayed during visits to the city. The hotel also provided accommodations for visiting teams for the Negro League.

The Rochester is being renovated into senior housing, and it will retain as much of the historic fabric as possible.

Here’s the hotel.

Hotel interior …

These are the houses across the street from the hotel, also currently under renovation.

View of downtown Kansas City from the roof of the hotel.