The history of The Palmer House Hilton begins as a true love story.
Businessman Potter Palmer was known for his significant role in the development of Chicago’s celebrated State Street. He was introduced to socialite and philanthropist Bertha Honore by former partner Marshall Field. Both strong-willed and respected leaders of Chicago society, Potter and Bertha ignited a romance that led to an eventual engagement and one of the most extravagant wedding gifts of all time: The Palmer House. Tragically, just 13 days after its grand opening, the hotel fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire and burned down. Determined to rebuild his grand hotel, Potter immediately began reconstruction with a $1.7 million signature loan—believed to be the largest individual loan at that time. On November 8, 1873, The Palmer House reopened, marking what would become the longest continually operating hotel in America. Designed by architect John M. Van Osdel, the new Palmer House was known for its sumptuous accommodations and boasting every luxury amenity of the day; the floor of the Palmer House’s barber shop was said to have been tiled in silver dollars. For fifty years, the hotel was a mecca for Chicago society and visiting luminaries such as Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde. After befriending Claude Monet, Bertha began decorating the Palmer House with paintings and other French artwork, eventually accumulating the largest collection of impressionist art outside of France. The Palmer House was adorned with garnet-draped chandeliers, Louis Comfort Tiffany masterpieces, and a breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The fresco was described by columnist George Will as “a wonderful protest of romance against the everydayness of life.”
It was here, at this iconic location, that this month’s installment of “Cocktails, Pumps and Cufflinks” was held. Many of my peers complain about the lack of quality, upwardly mobile men & women in the city and sexy venues. But Anthony Galloway and Adam McMath has done a phenomenal job at providing exceptionally diverse outlets for a sophisticated and intimate crowd on a monthly basis. Attendees descended and drank sophisticated drinks such as “The Potter Palmer”, while exchanging business cards and conversing on the topics, “tea” and current events of the day. It was a relaxed environment that allowed guest to network and build lasting business/personal relationships and connects. Many things can be said about Chicago but one thing that remains a fact is, Chicago is a beautiful city of opportunity, class and sophistication if you pull yourself out of the confines of mediocrity and ratchedness. Events such as last night are adding to vibrancy and growth of our city. The upwardly mobile are most definitely on the move and I am excited to see where we will go from here….it was a doozy…Cheers Fellas….Deo