Tuesday, December 29, 2009
My daughter and I stayed at the historic old Palmer House in downtown Chicago. Built in 1871 by wealthy Chicago business magnate Potter Palmer as a wedding gift to his new bride, Bertha Honoré, the original Palmer House burned to the ground in the great Chicago Fire thirteen days after opening. The second Palmer House was built across the street from the original hotel and opened in 1873, after being funded by a $1.7 million loan, which Potter Palmer negotiated on his signature alone. Since that time, the Palmer House has never closed, making it one of the oldest continuously operated hotels in the United States. It has been through several restorations, including the most recent one which took over 2 years and cost $170 million. It is truly a grand hotel and perhaps the most striking feature is the lobby which I am showing you here today. The lobby ceiling of 21 Grecian paintings was installed in the early 20th century by French muralist Louis Pierre Rigal. He used a vegetable-based paint on the ceiling, two stories above the floor.