Built in 1930 at the cost of a quarter-million and named the Roberts Hotel until 1957, the Hotel Parrish closed in 1974. The building had been empty since the 1980s.
A long sleeping giant has been resurrected and once again breathes with life.
With the cut of a piece of fabric by the hand of a past owner, the Hotel Parrish, now the Parrish lofts, returned to a useful existence late Tuesday morning.
For decades this edifice stood unused as pigeons made it their home and the ravages of time wore away its insides until the very thought of returning it seemed an impossible task.
But MRE Capital developers Jake Mooney and Dan Sailler were optimistic and after consulting with architects and engineers determined it could be done.
With support from Rep. Greg Williams and Sen. Mitch Holmes and private and public support as well, MRE started on this project two years ago.
The Parrish is owned by Parrish Housing Partners LP consisting of Mooney and Sailler as general partners and investors as limited partners, said Fred Bentley, director of rental housing development for the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation.
One of the biggest challenges they faced with restoring the building was so much of the interior was deteriorated and details were gone that they had just a few pieces of original décor to work with, Mooney said.
But with the help of pictures and many craftsmen, the building lobby came to life.
The lobby floor is original as is the railing on the stair leading to the second floor and the chandelier that hangs from the lobby ceiling.
The building was gutted and the hotel rooms have been changed into 23 apartments along with a theater and exercise room on the second floor.
Former owner Ellen Parrish was on hand at the open house. To say she was impressed is an understatement.
“I’m spellbound,” Parrish said. “The rooms upstairs are beautiful.”
Parrish remembered three large paintings that hung in the front lobby and wondered where they were located. Mooney said they were not in the hotel when he arrived and he had no idea what happened to them.
Parrish lived in the hotel for 20 years with her husband Monty who was a two star general in World War II and fought under Gen. George Patton.
Parrish didn’t want Monty to buy it because it was an old building that broke ground 86 years ago but buy it he did from the previous owner Webb Elson.
The cost of the original hotel was $250,000 back in 1930.
Parrish said a housekeeper named Melissa was overwhelmed where to start getting the building ready. But Parrish told her to just start at the top and work her way down.
The reopening stirred many memories from those who knew the Parrish Hotel when it was a hub of activity in Pratt.
Many in attendance remembered Parrish as an excellent cook and had special memories of the food and entertainment that took place in the building.
Martha Hunter was a cook and remembered many civic organizations like Rotary and Lions met at the hotel on a regular basis in the ballroom. Her niece even got married there.
Sue DeWeese said the second floor had a spring loaded dance floor and she recalled attending Byers proms and other dances in the ballroom. To see the building restored to usefulness was exhilarating.
“Man, I love this. It’s so cool,” DeWeese said.
It was also a home for the Miss Kansas contestants for the first five years the pageant was held in Pratt starting in 1955. The contestants would eat at the hotel then walk, as a group to the Municipal Building, said Pratt resident Marilyn Kennedy.
She recalls a lot of small conventions meeting at the hotel. The hotel often hosted dances featuring local musicians.
“It was a nice place to be in the ’50s and ’60s,” Kennedy said.
Not all the activity in the hotel was on the up and up. Paul Warren recalled hearing about high stakes poker games and the availability of alcohol.
“It used to be quite a hangout,” Warren said.
The hotel thrived during the ’50s and ’60s and was a favorite place for salesmen to lodge, Parrish said.
But when motels came to town, the Parrish couldn’t compete with the prices and it eventually closed.
Bentley said he had looked at the hotel back in 1994 with developers from Minnesota. They came and took a tour of the building at night and were interested but the owner wouldn’t sell.
However, the thought of remodeling the building had been implanted and a spark of life had been ignited that would not die.
Eventually, with the help of Sen. Pat Roberts, the KHRC was able to make federal tax credits available and the dream began to come true.
The total estimated cost for the Parrish project is $5.5 million. That figure will change as costs are finalized, Bently said.
Approximately $4.5 million came from federal historic credits and federal housing credits while another $1 million came from state historic credits.
The remodel of the Parrish Hotel has helped preserve the past and is a positive thing for the growth in downtown Pratt, Bentley said.
“Opportunities like this don’t happen very often,” Bentley said. “It’s so important to the community.”