Watkins Mill

Travel 6 miles north of Excelsior Springs on Highway 69 North to Highway 92 West following the signs. The park includes a very unusual combination of the southern plantation culture with the beginnings of the industrial area and a 1,289 acre recreational area offering fishing, swimming, boating, bicycling, hiking and camping. Picnic areas and playground equipment are available. Tours of the mill are given Monday-Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM. Sunday hours - winter 11 AM to 4 PM; summer 12 noon to 6 PM.

Excelsior Springs Hall of Waters

The Hall of Waters is a magnificent example of Art Deco styling and architecture. It all began in 1935 when a group of citizens decided that it would be a good idea to bring all the waters to one central location so that visitors for generations to come would be able to partake of the waters. They dreamed of a simple building that would house the pipes, filtration systems and controls, along with serving and seating for the patrons. It was estimated to cost $250,000. But these resources were not in the City's budget. So, they approached the Federal government.

It was at a time when the Work Progress Administration was putting so many people to work. Artists and artisans alike. Constructing great buildings, roads, dams and park systems. But the Federal government did not make a loan this small! So, the committee was able to add to their idea and build their ideal building. And out of the more than 2,000 projects built by the WPA, this project was unique. It was built to be the finest and most complete health resort in the United States. It cost $1 million to construct.

As you arrive you will find the Hall of Waters sitting slightly back from the street. In fact, many people miss this great building on first try. But it is worth persisting. While you take a leisurely stroll up the concrete and stone walkway, you'll notice a garden off to your right. It is pleasantly landscaped and used to contain a hexagonal sidewalk that lead to the lower level entrance to the building. This originally was the main entrance to the swimming pools. As you continue up the walk you will notice two very large art deco lanterns that light each entrance. You are greeted by eight great Mayan warriors set in concrete and guarding the entrances.

As you gain entry through the great doors, you may notice the trim that is various shades of brown and green. This once surrounded the rainbows of health that adorned the two panels that are now painted tan. You then enter the foyer. The floors here and throughout the building are the finest terrazzo. You will find brass, bronze, and copper fixtures and treatments. There are wondrous patterns in the brick work. An musician that was visiting recently remarked that he thought if someone would take the time that they could compose a musical score from the patterns. Even the characteers on the elevators doors are truly remarkable.

As you step forward, the wonderful skylight above you with the textured glass filters the natural light. As your gaze moves back down, you will also notice the four gold-looking placques that adorn the railings to the next floor. These are actually painted wood. The rooms upstairs now contain the City Council Chambers and the Municipal Court. (The Hall of Waters is also currently serving as City Hall.) Also on the upper level, you will find a splendid view overlooking the Water Bar.

As you gaze to up to your right you will notice a small area that looks as though it was missed by the painter. Actually this was re-discovered when it was last being painted. This is an example of the original trim that was carried throughout this area. You may also be amazed at the Mayan and Azteca influences in the tile work. There are figures and symbols that relate to life and the waters. The vibrant colors that accent these tiles are carried throughout the foyer and the Water Bar.

If you proceed straight ahead, you will enter a part of the building called The Hall of Springs. This great rotunda contains the World's Longest Water Bar. In 1937 when the building was completed, it served waters from ten of the original wells and springs that the City owned or bought when constructing this building. There is a delightful fountain at the south end of the Water Bar that features a lionshead fountain and contains plants and goldfish once again. The chandeliers have recently been restored in the Water Bar. They are gigantic and look like something from a Buck Rogers movie! They too have the Mayan influence. (From the outside the rotunda looks much like a giant ship.)

Also in the Water Bar there are magnificent windows that allow for a wonderful interplay with light. In times gone by, you could have found visitors playing chess or dominoes, sharing stories, or reading - just whiling away the time. It is a great area for all types of displays and art works. Early each September when Waterfest is celebrated, a quilt exhibition and an Art Show are held. Each Christmas season beginning just before Thanksgiving, a truly delightful and unique display of Christmas trees is presented for the enjoyment of youngsters of all ages. It is called the Hall of Trees and lasts through the second of January. There is a great balcony just outside that surrounds the Water Bar rotunda and offers great opportunities for enjoying a picnic or a snack.

The building originally contained two pools - a large, indoor swimming pool and a smaller therapy pool originally called the polio pool, a complete bath department for men and another for women, exercise rooms, lecture rooms, a bottling plant and tank room, offices for the Chamber of Commerce, the Mineral Water System, as well as the World's Longest Water Bar. It was surrounded by beautiful gardens, walking paths and the Fishing River. The original site of the Siloam Spring is now under the building and is producing Iron Manganese water to this day.

Today a group of interested citizens are working to redevelop the facility. To return it to the splendor of old. They have already finished restoring the Water Bar and successfully operate it year round. They have recently restored the first Bath House. (Some of the equipment hadn't operated in more than 20 years!) Learn about the lost art of bathing! Pamper your body in a hot, bubbling, mineral water bath or enjoy our personal steam room while cleansing your body through perspiration. Relax your muscles with the deep, penetrating heat of the Light Vapor Bath. Try mud, milk, honey, seaweed, salt, sitz, foot baths. And more... Treat yourself to the old fashioned pleasures of the baths and massage at the Hall of Waters Spa.

Plans next are to re-open one of the pools as soon as possible and eventually both pools will be operating. Hopefully they will be able to restore the mineral water to the pool(s). There will be new dressing rooms. An indoor walking track, a fully equipped exercise room, and lecture rooms are under consideration. The plans also call for availability of all of the waters.

Even though it is a work in progress, you can still come taste the waters, take a bath or just take a tour today! The Hall of Waters is still a shining example of craftsmanship and attention to detail that will keep you marveling for a long time to come.

For more information, please contact (816) 630-0753 or fax (816) 630-8063 or...

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