Sunday, November 23, 2014
A Millionaire's Love Story
Who would have guessed that the longest operating hotel in the United States could be found in Chicago Illinois? I knew that the Palmer House held historical significance for the city but, I didn't know that it started as a love story. Potter Palmer was a wealthy business magnate when he was introduced to Bertha Honore by his former business partner Marshal Field. Bertha was a wealthy Socialite some 23 years younger than Potter but, her strong personality and desire to succeed swept Palmer right off his feet. When they became engaged, Palmer had a hotel built as a wedding present to Bertha for her to decorate and manage on her own.
Palmer was determined to rebuild and was able to secure a $1.7 million dollar loan on his signature alone and the hotel was rebuilt using mostly iron and brick. When it opened again in 1873, it was advertised as the world's only fire-proof hotel.
Bertha used her knowledge of fine art to decorate the hotel with garnet studded chandeliers, impressionist paintings, and a ceiling fresco painted by French artist Pierre Rigal.
Conrad Hilton bought The Palmer House in 1945 for 20 million dollars and it thereafter became known as The Palmer House Hilton.
One interesting note is that the Brownie was invented at the hotel when Bertha asked that a special dessert be created for ladies attending the 1893 worlds fair.
I highly recommend that you take a look at The Palmer House Hilton the next time you are in Chicago. If you don't stay there, just pop in for a drink or maybe a brownie.