TIO Missouri: Tiger Hotel & More

TIO Missouri: Tiger Hotel & More

If you have lived, as I have, the notorious Saul Steinberg cartoon, (“View of the World,” 1976, with Manhattan as the epicenter), the state does not even exist.

The emphasis would be on the “MISS” in Missouri.

But if you are driving cross-country in your new Tesla named “Current” – cobalt blue, dove gray upholstery, aerodynamic lines, state-of-the-art nav system, etc. Love it) – then you get your charge (literally) in places like Columbia, Missouri, a sleepy college town with the amenity du jour: a Tesla juicing station, one of few in the state, located at the uber hip Tiger Hotel, a boutique rest stop, with a great (read warm, welcoming, informed, efficient, easy in their skins) staff.

Per Tiger’s website:

In a snapshot representative of the early, lean days of the Columbia Art League, paintings are leaned against a wall in the bright sunshine along Cherry Street near the Tiger Hotel. The photo is undated but might have been taken circa late 1950s or early 1960s.

Built in 1928 by Simon Construction Company, The Tiger Hotel was the most lavish hotel in Columbia, with modern amenities seen nowhere else. Designed by Alonzo Gentry, a member of the Statler Hotel architectural team, it was the first skyscraper between Kansas City and St. Louis. The construction was a point of interest for local residents: people were often seen watching as concrete and other building materials were hoisted high into the air. With over 100 rooms, elevators and a circulating ice water cooling system, The Tiger Hotel set the bar for comfort and convenience. The Tiger sign on the roof became, and is to this day, the most notable landmark in Columbia.

Operating as a hotel for many decades, the ownership often changed, usually accompanied by various renovations. With the decline of rail travel and the increase in modern cars, The Tiger was reinvented as The Tiger Motor Hotel. With advertising showcasing free guest parking in automatic garages, it maintained its prestige for many years. Eventually the increase in vehicular traffic on the major interstates took its toll, and in 1987, The Tiger was renovated once again to become The Kensington, a retirement community.

In 1979, The Tiger Hotel was nominated for the National Registry of Historic places….


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The address is 23 South 8th Street. For reservations, call 573-875-8888. Ask for the manager, M.J.

To stretch our legs after a long day on the road, we decided to step out and try one of the local hotspots for dinner. Umbria, M.J.’s recommendation, features rustic Italian food and was just short walk from Tiger on a pleasant (almost) fall evening.

A dish from Umbria’s menu. We enjoyed  one of the special that night: a grilled salmon over a bed of creamy, vegetable polenta and a grilled caesar salad.

A dish from Umbria’s diverse, super fresh menu. We enjoyed one of the special that night: a grilled salmon over a bed of creamy, vegetable polenta.

At Umbria the chef clearly draws on the similarities between the Mid-Missouri agriculture community and the farmlands of central Italy from which the restaurant took its name. The menu included homemade pastas, flavorful sauces with seasonal ingredients, and stone-fired pizzas, which you can wash down with the rich wines of central Italy.

From Missouri, we traveled to Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, before reaching our first planned stop and visit, Pittsburgh to hang with family. Then it’s on to the Steinberg cartoon, New York City.

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