Porter Hotel to celebrate 80th birthday Open House
BELOIT – The Porter Hotel, 209 E. Main, Beloit, will celebrate 80 years (1939-2019) with an Open House from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11. Senator Elaine Bowers will speak and refreshments will be served. The community is invited to attend.
The historic Porter Hotel opened for business on October 11, 1939 and was built by Mitchell County native, W. Earl Porter. His name can still be seen, carved in stone, on the front of the building. Porter, a traveling salesman and later a partner of the famous retailer, J.C. Penney, sold his stock in Penney's to finance the construction of the hotel. Beloit architect Frank Slack was chosen by Porter to design the building. Construction began on October 21, 1938 with Earl Porter using his own farm equipment to dredge the basement. The style is considered "Moderne" because it is devoid of ornamentation.
The hotel was originally built with 54 guest rooms and three apartments. It contains approximately 28,900 square feet plus a basement of 7,200 square feet. The building is of all steel and concrete construction and the main floor is terrazzo over reinforced concrete. The Porter Hotel had the first elevator in Beloit and local and long distance telephone service was available from all rooms; also a first for Beloit. There was also a coffee shop located in the hotel that was of such good quality that it attracted the attention of world famous food critic, Duncan Hines. The Porter Hotel Coffee Shop was included in the 1958 edition of his book, "Adventures in Good Eating". There was also a liquor store, attorney's office and barber shop on the main floor and a beauty parlor in the basement.
When the Porter Hotel opened in 1939, it was considered one of the finest between Kansas City and Denver. It quickly became the hub of social activity for North Central Kansas. Social and civic organizations, and businesses all used the hotel facilities. Big bands, such as Tommy Dorsey and Jimmy Dorsey, played and stayed at the Porter Hotel. Every Kansas governor from 1943 to 1979 either stayed or dined at the Porter Hotel. In 1947, Porter constructed ten ground floor guest rooms in an annex just east of the hotel.
Earl Porter and his son Donald took an active interest in the civic life of Beloit and were very active in Republican politics. Earl Porter served as mayor of Beloit from 1934 to 1943 and Donald was, at one time, leader of the Young Republicans of Kansas.
Times do change however and, in 1989, the Porter Hotel became the Porter Apartments. In 1999, the Porter family decided to close down the Porter Apartments altogether. In 2004, Continental Real Estate, Inc. of Topeka, Kansas purchased the building. After the purchase, Continental Management renamed it The Porter House Apartments and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Continental Real Estate rehabilitated the building as senior housing. On November 1, 2014, ownership of the Porter House Apartments was transferred to the Midwest Housing Equity Group of Omaha, Nebraska. At that time, the qualifications for residency changed and you no longer had to be a senior citizen to apply for residency. On September 30, 2016, an open house and ceremony was held to dedicate the brass plaque signifying the inclusion of The Porter Hotel in The National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the Porter House offers lovely apartments in a beautiful building at reasonable rates. The offices of the Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce and Mitchell County Community Development are located in The Porter House. The lobby, courtyard and various meeting rooms are utilized by the community for Christmas parties, reunions, graduations, receptions and other events.