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Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 148;
Hotel History: The Cincinnatian Hotel (1882), Cincinnati, Ohio*

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Built in 1882, the Cincinnatian Hotel was designed as a grand hotel of the 19th century. Originally named the Palace Hotel, this eight-story French Second Empire hotel was the tallest building in Cincinnati. It was designed by the city's favorite architect, Samuel Hannaford who was responsible for more than 300 buildings including Cincinnati's Music Hall and City Hall. The Palace Hotel featured a grand walnut and marble staircase, 300 guestrooms with a shared bathroom at either end of each corridor. As the finest hotel in the city, the Palace provided incandescent lights and elevators. In a tribute to Samuel Hannaford after his death in 1909, it was said, "If the building of gentle, sympathetic, just, strong and steadfast character is to be the aim of human life, then Samuel Hannaford was the most successful man we have known."

The Palace Hotel's name was changed in the early 1950s to the Cincinnatian Hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel deteriorated over the next thirty years and it was to be replaced by a parking garage. Instead, the hotel was closed for four years of renovation and, $25 million later, it was reopened as the grand hotel it is now.

The beautiful atrium topped with a vast skylight was created in the renovation, and a hotel that once held 300 rooms now has half that amount in order to accommodate larger guest rooms with private baths. The extensive renovation, however, still maintained the original flavor of the Palace Hotel in the exterior facade with its mansard roof, the marble and walnut grand staircase as well as the original safe from the Palace Hotel, which is now on display in The Cricket Lounge.

The fine dining room in The Cincinnatian Hotel, The Palace Restaurant, took the original name of the hotel. The Cricket Lounge kept the name of the original restaurant while the four meeting rooms on the second floor (Filson, Denmar, Ludlow, and Symmes) reflect the name of the founding fathers in Cincinnati. The St. Clair room was named after the governor of the Northwest Territory who renamed the city of Losantaville to the city of Cincinnati. The three major suites of the hotel also have historic value: The Emery-Presidential Suite was named for the original owners of the hotel (Thomas and Joseph Emery), The Hannaford Suite for its architect (Samuel Hannaford), and The Briggs Suite for the first general manager (Joseph Briggs). The Maria Nichols room was named after the woman who founded Rookwood Pottery in 1880.

Traditional in atmosphere and service, The Cincinnatian Hotel captures the warmth and gracious ambiance of the turn of the century. Six meeting rooms totaling 3,410 square feet, with audio, video and high-speed wireless Internet access are available. An important part of the downtown cityscape, the hotel is within walking distance of the Convention Center, major league sports stadiums and fine shopping.
*excerpted from my book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013)

Return to The Cincinnatian Hotel


About Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Stanley_Turkel_3.jpgStanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by The New York Times. His fourth hotel book was described by The New York Times: "Nostalgia for the City's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's...fact-filled...Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf."


Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi is available for purchase from the publisher by visiting

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