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The Westin Poinsett

History: 
    The Westin Poinsett
 in Greenville

History

South Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina was once home to the Mansion House Hotel for over a century until it was torn down in 1924. The following year, just a few feet from the former site of Mansion House Hotel, Poinsett Hotel was constructed for $1.5 million and celebrated its grand opening on June 20, 1925. Despite its beautiful interiors and acclaimed design, the hotel lost money during its first year, and business continued to decline through the years of the Great Depression.

In 1930, Mr. J. Mason Alexander was hired as Poinsett Hotel's General Manager. Known as Old Admiral Spit and Polish and the best in the business, Mr. Alexander credited his success to his formula known as The Four C's, which stood for cleanliness, cooking, competence, and courtesy. By 1940, Mr. Alexander's formula proved another success as the hotel quickly became known as "Carolina's Finest." Poinsett Hotel's dining rooms and ballrooms were constantly filled for family dinners and formal dances.

By then, known as "Mr. Poinsett," Mr. Alexander was labeled "the man who gave you clean money" for his believe that no guest should leave with anything but, literally, clean money. Because of this, Mr. Alexander instructed that the staff who handled money were required to polish all coins before putting them in the cash register for change.

Mr. Alexander's attention to detail carried through the maintenance of the hotel as if it were his own home. He regarded every visitor as an honored guest who should receive a warm reception, fine dining, and a restful sleep. Some notable guests at Poinsett included Amelia Earhart, John Barrymore, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Bobby Kennedy, and the glamorous Liberace.

In 1941, due to its success, to accommodate the flourishing business, the hotel was required to undergo expansion and added 60 guestrooms, totaling 248 available accommodations.

During the mid 1950s, the motel industry boomed and luxury city hotels became obsolete. Following the climate shift of the hospitality industry, Poinsett Hotel was sold to the Jack Tarr hotel chain in 1959. From 1971 until December 1986, the hotel exchanged ownership several times, including converting the property into a retirement home. Due to foreclosure and failure to keep up with the fire code, the remaining residents were required to move out by January 1987.

Until early 1990, Poinsett Hotel was considered one of the eleven most endangered historical sites in South Carolina. The hotel remained empty until November 1997, when Steve Dopp and Greg Lenox, owners and developers of the historic Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, purchased it and began an extensive renovation process.

In June 2000, the owners, former employees, and friends of the Poinsett Hotel celebrated the 75th anniversary of its original grand opening with an exhibit of historic memorabilia in City Hall and a reception in the Gold Ballroom of the hotel. Shortly after its anniversary celebration, The Westin Poinsett reopened on October 22, 2000.

Since its grand reopening, The Westin Poinsett has regained its reputation as "Carolina's Finest." With its lavish arrangements and thoughtfully-appointed furnishings, the hotel lends the treasured ambiance of its historic beginnings.

The Westin Poinsett, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2002, dates back to 1925.


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