Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Building of the Week: The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville

The Hotel in 1910
The Hermitage Hotel

It has welcomed six presidents and has played host to the likes of Bette Davis, Al Capone, Greta Garbo, Steven Spielberg and Al Jolson. This is The Hermitage Hotel—once the social center of the elite of Nashville, Tennessee. Built in 1910, The Hermitage was the first million-dollar hotel in Tennessee and was immediately a symbol of Nashville’s success as a Southern city. Named for President Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee estate, The Hermitage, no expense was spared in building it. Marble and Russian walnut became the perfect backdrop for the opulent furnishings and rich Persian rugs. The ceiling in the lobby is a testament to the glass-maker’s art—cut and stained glass are expertly assembled into magnificent vaults. The hotel, with its gilt moldings and graceful arches, is the epitome of Belle Époque style.

When the doors opened, the people of Tennessee knew they had something exceptional. The Hermitage Hotel quickly became the hub of social and cultural activity. Musicians such as The Francis Craig Orchestra and Dinah Shore entertained guests. “Meet me at the Hermitage,” was on everyone’s lips. The hotel even became the seat of the Democratic Party for awhile, providing a dramatic stage for political events.

The Lobby.
The Hermitage Hotel
During the 1980’s and 90’s, the hotel changed hands frequently. Now, however—one hundred years after its construction—the Hermitage Hotel is in the caring hands of Historic Hotels of Nashville, LLC who has undertaken an extensive restoration plan which has returned this hotel to its Golden Age splendor.


Dashwood said...

Thanks for this post. It makes me recall "A Municipal Report" by O. Henry written in 1904. While never thought of as one of the world's most exciting or stylish cities, the Hermitage reminds us that Nashville today as in 1904, has as much to commend it in the world as any other place.

Joseph said...

An interesting observation, Dashwood. Thanks for reminding me of O. Henry's "A Municipal Report." It's good reading.