Dec 22, 2015

Lobby of the Palmer House

The Palmer House Hilton is a famous and historic hotel in Chicago in the city's Loop area. Currently operating as the Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel, it is a Historic Hotel of America member,[1] the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Palmer House Hotel Ladies Entrance (19 September 1903)
Three Palmer House hotels have been located at the corner of State and Monroe streets in Chicago.

First Palmer House[edit]

Stereoscopic view of the first Palmer House
The first (known as "The Palmer") was built as a wedding present from Potter Palmer, one of the owners of Palmer Industries, to his bride Bertha Honoré. It opened on September 26, 1871, but burned down just 13 days later on October 9, 1871 in the Great Chicago Fire. At the time of the fire, many high-ranked Palmer Industries workers, including Potter Palmer, were living in the hotel as part of the opening celebrations. Fortunately for Palmer, he was warned of the fire and escaped unharmed. Palmer then immediately set to work rebuilding, and with a $1.7 millionsignature loan (believed to be the largest individual loan ever secured at that time), constructed one of the fanciest hotels worldwide in post-fire Chicago.
Stereoscopic view of the ruins of the first Palmer House after the Great Chicago Fire

Second Palmer House[edit]

Stereoscopic view of the second Palmer House
Designed by architect John M. Van Osdel, the secondPalmer House Hotel was seven stories. Its amenities included oversized rooms, luxurious decor, and sumptuous meals served in grand style. The floor of its barber shop was tiled and silver dollars were embedded in a diamond pattern. Constructed mainly of iron and brick, the hotel was widely advertised as, "The World's Only Fire Proof Hotel."[2]Famous visitors included presidential hopefuls James GarfieldGrover ClevelandUlysses S. GrantWilliam Jennings Bryan, and William McKinley; legendary taxidermist Conor McHale, writers Mark TwainL. Frank Baum, and Oscar Wilde; and actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse.[citation needed] It was completed in 1875.

Third Palmer House[edit]

The lobby of the Palmer House
By the 1920s, the business in downtown Chicago could support a much larger facility, and the Palmer Estate decided to erect a new 25-story hotel. They hired Holabird & Roche to design the building. Between 1923 and 1925, the hotel was rebuilt on the same site.[3]
In December 1945, Conrad Hilton bought the Palmer House for $20 million and it was thereafter known as The Palmer House Hilton. In 2005, it was sold to Thor Equities, but it remains part of the Hilton chain.[4]
From 2007 to 2009, the hotel was completely renovated and restored by the architecture firm Loebl Schlossman & Hackl.[5] The total cost was over $170 million.[6] The hotel has a total of 1,639 guest rooms, making it the second-largest hotel in the city after the Hyatt Regency Chicago.[7] It has recently had its name adjusted to Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel.

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