21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati by MGallery

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Discover the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati by MGallery, which was originally established as the historic Hotel Metropole.

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21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati by MGallery, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019, dates back to 1912.

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Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati by MGallery has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019. One of AccorHotels’ most extravagant holiday destinations, this glorious hotel has overlooked downtown Cincinnati for more than a century. The building’s history is also quite extensive, having originally been founded decades ago as the “Hotel Metropole.” Constructed in the early 1910s, the business emerged at a time when urban growth in downtown Cincinnati was flourishing. As businesses appeared with great frequency throughout the city, a local attorney named Joseph C. Thoms saw a wonderful opportunity for economic success. Noticing a lack of upscale hotels in Cincinnati, Thoms decided to create his own luxurious venue. He hired the reputable architectural firm Joseph G. Steinkamp & Sons for the project, who designed the nascent hotel with Neoclassical aesthetics. What Steinkamp achieved was magnificent, as the building had such outstanding features like a two-story curving staircase, an ornate grand ballroom, and a sprawling lobby defined by its gorgeous 12-foot ceilings. Christened as the “Hotel Metropole,” Thoms’ fellow Cincinnatians were awestruck by his luxurious, ten-story establishment when it debuted on New Year’s Eve in 1912. The excitement over the Hotel Metropole was so great that close to 800 people arranged to attend its grand opening.

The hotel kept its status a prestigious holiday destination for the next several decades, even after Thoms passed away in 1922. In fact, some of the most influential individuals often visited the Hotel Metropole, making it one of the central social attractions in downtown Cincinnati. Its greatest time in the spotlight occurred when Edd Roush—the star outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds—learned of the infamous “Black Sox” scandal, which gave his team its first World Series title in 1919. (Several players on the Chicago White Sox threw their games against the Reds in the World Series, in order to obtain a cut of gambling money from gambler Joseph Sullivan.) Eventually, Thoms’ daughter, Eunice took over the family business, building an additional 11th floor to meet the burgeoning demand for accommodations. But this prosperity did not last forever. By the 1970s, visitation to the Hotel Metropole had declined so significantly that it was forced to close for good. In 2009, however, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp bought the building following its listing in the National Register for Historic Places, and allowed 21c Museum Hotels to transform the site back into an active hotel. Founded on the premise of making hotels their own cultural attractions, 21c Museum Hotels incorporated its own exhibitions of contemporary art into the erstwhile Hotel Metropole. Inside, guests encounter galleries filled with sophisticated artwork, including its own special collection entitled, Illuminati.

  • About the Location +

    The 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati is just moments away from Fountain Square near the intersection of Walnut and East Sixth Streets. Located right in the center of the Central Business District, Fountain Square is among Cincinnati’s most famous landmarks. Even though it was officially founded in 1871, the location was the site where the city’s first inhabitants settled down nearly a century prior. Dozens of local concerts and festivals occur at the square every month, with many congregating around its central landmark, the iconic Tyler Davidson Fountain. Dedicated just months after Fountain Square debuted, this beautiful statue is an homage to Cincinnati’s maritime connection with the Ohio River. Its relief features anecdotes featuring the four primary historical uses of water in the city: steam, waterpower, commerce, and fisheries. The Tyler Davidson Fountain is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fountain Square is near a number of other amazing landmarks, including the Taft Theatre, the Aronoff Center for the Arts, the Great American Ballpark (home to the historic Cincinnati Reds baseball team), and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Many more are just a short drive away, too, such as the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Cincinnati Art Museum, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, and the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

    Cincinnati itself is a historic city dating back to the late 18th century. Its earliest residents arrived in the area during the late 1780s, founding a rustic military based called Fort Washington. But the first administrator of the nascent outpost—General Arthur St. Clair—quickly renamed it “Cincinnati” after the Society of Cincinnati. (The Society of Cincinnati was the nation’s first patriotic organization, consisting of officers who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.) But the isolated settlement rapidly emerged as one of the nation’s most integral port cities, for it provided a rare access point through the Allegheny Mountains. Steamboats soon became a regular sight in Cincinnati, ferrying all sorts of passengers and cargo along the Ohio River. A prosperous local pork-packing industry developed around the same time, too, which led to the city earning the name “Porkopolis.” Yet, Cincinnati’s most enduring nickname came about in the mid-1850s, when Americans from across the nation took to calling it “The Queen City.” Many influential figures of the day admired Cincinnati’s growing metropolis, including the likes of Charles Dickens and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In fact, Longfellow immortalized the city in one of his poems, calling it the “Queen of the West.” And despite its deep economic connections with the American South, Cincinnati served as the home of many prominent abolitionists in the lead-up to the American Civil War, like Henry Ward Beecher and Levin Coffin. The city, thus, became an integral stop for slaves escaping along the clandestine Underground Railroad.

    The onset of the American Civil War forced local Cincinnatians to develop new markets with other metropolises further north, establishing rail lines connecting it to places like Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Chicago. Its standing as one of the central transportations hubs in the American Midwest was further reinforced when regular trade with the South resumed in the 1880s. Cincinnati even saw one of its residents—William Howard Taft—win the presidency at the beginning of the 20th century, running as the hand-selected successor to his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt. (Taft later served as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the only person to ever do so in American history.) Yet, political corruption and a slew of natural disasters temporarily humbled Cincinnati’s economy by the onset of the Roaring Twenties. But institutional reform managed to pull the city out of this prolonged period of decline in the wake of the Great Depression, as a rush of new economic development impacting the city shortly after World War II. Cincinnati soon was home to many modern corporations that specialized in pharmaceuticals, textiles, machinery, and a bunch of other products. As such, the city’s population shot up to number in the several hundred thousand, with over a million living in its surrounding suburbs by the century’s end. Cincinnati continues to be an important center of commerce and culture in the heart of the American Midwest, as millions of people travel to the Queen City to experience its rich heritage every year.


  • About the Architecture +

    The 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati by MGallery features a wonderful blend of Classical Revival-style architecture. Also known as “Neoclassical,” Classic Revival design aesthetics are among the most common architectural forms seen throughout the United States. This wonderful architectural style first became popularized at the World’s Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893. Many of the exhibits displayed structures exhibits architectural motifs from ancient societies like Rome and Greece. As with the equally popular Colonial Revival style of the same period, Classical Revival architect found an audience for its more formal nature. It specifically relied on stylistic design elements that incorporated such structural components like the symmetrical placement of doors and windows, as well as a front porch crowned with a classical pediment. Architects would also install a rounded front portico that possessed a balustraded flat roof. Pilasters and other sculptured ornamentations proliferated throughout the façade of the building, as well. Perhaps the most striking feature of buildings designed with Classical Revival-style architecture were massive columns that displayed some combination of Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic capitals. With its Greco-Roman temple-like form, Classical Revival-style architecture was considered most appropriate for municipal buildings like courthouses, libraries, and schools. Yet, the form found its way into more commercial uses over time, such as banks, department stores, and of course, hotels. The celebrated architectural firm McKim, Meade and White produced some of the most noteworthy buildings that utilized Classical Revival architecture, with most of their work appearing during the early 20th century. Examples of their portfolio can be found throughout many of America’s major cities, including Philadelphia and New York City. They were later joined by many other prominent architects, including the original designer of the 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati by MGallery, Joseph G. Steinkamp.


  • Famous Historic Events +

    Chicago “Black Sox” Scandal (1919): Heading into the World Series of 1919, the Chicago White Sox were one of the best teams in Major League Baseball. With 88 regular season wins to their name that year, many throughout the baseball world believed they would beat the Cincinnati Reds (the National League Pennant champs) in the Fall Classic. In fact, many bookies even had the White Sox beating the Reds by three-to-one odds. Miraculously, the Reds pummeled the Chicago White Sox in the first two games they played. Onlookers watched agape as two of Chicago’s best pitchers, Eddie Cicotte and Claude “Lefty” Williams, made some uncharacteristic mistakes while pitching on the mound. Even the New York Times marveled: “Never before in the history of America’s biggest baseball spectacle has a pennant-winning club received such a disastrous drubbing in an opening game.” The Chicago White Sox continued to lose until it they were one loss away from elimination. But the team rallied unexpectedly, defeating the Reds to draw the series back to four to three (the World Series then was a best of nine competition.) The victories came too late, however, as the Reds managed to overcome the White Sox with a Game Eight win on October 9.

    Without a doubt, the 1919 World Series had certainly left its mark on the nation. Many Americans believed the rumors that circulated afterward that the series had been thrown by several White Sox players in order to receive cash payouts from the mafia. Several prominent sports writers began to examine the stories, with Hugh Fullerton taking the lead. Despite mounting public pressure, Major League Baseball was content to let the outrage die out. But when evidence surfaced that the mob had fixed a regular season game between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies the following season, a federal grand jury began its own investigation into the World Series. Eventually, Eddie Cicotte decided to testify before the jury, tearfully admitting to the existence of the scheme. Over time, the grand jury discovered that eight Chicago White Sox players had conspired with gambler Joseph Sullivan to fix the games. Six of those players allegedly saw the entire scheme through to the end: Eddie Cicotte, Claude “Lefty” Williams, Charles Risberg, Oscar Felsch, C. Arnold Gandil, and Fred McMullin. Two other players, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver, had been involved at one point, but apparently backed out.

    While Joseph Sullivan was the only person with direct criminal connections indicted in the investigation, more rumors spread that prolific mobsters had been involved, as well. Many suspected that Bill Burns, Bill Maharg, Abe Attell, and the legendary Arnold Rothstein had greatly influenced the outcome of the World Series. Even though the grand jury never collected any outstanding examples of their presence, tangential evidence seemed to suggest that the baseball players had been in contact with a few criminal enterprises. Yet, the confessions of the players mysteriously disappeared, most likely stolen by the mob to cover its participation in the fix. Nevertheless, the prosecution dropped the case after the confessions had vanished, granting “no guilty” findings for every player. But the new commissioner for Major League Baseball, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, decided to permanently ban all eight men from ever playing baseball again. Even Buck Weaver and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson received the ban, despite having left the plot before it started. The 1919 World Series and subsequent “Black Sox” scandal has since become one of the most colorful—and infamous—events in the history of Major League Baseball.


  • Art Collection +

    As part of 21c’s mission to integrate contemporary art into daily life, thought-provoking works are installed both indoors and out. The historic 1912 building that 21c Cincinnati calls home was reimagined by Deborah Berke Partners in 2012. The redesign preserved historic spaces like the ballroom, while creating new spaces to highlight contemporary art. Adjacent to the Walnut street entrance is Austrian artist Werner Reiterer’s enormous, ornate, brass chandelier, which illuminates and animates the surrounding streetscape. Hanging from the straight right angle of its clean, white scaffold, Reiterer’s sculptural confection recalls the chandeliers that adorned old-world ballrooms hundreds of years ago—now installed on a 21st-century street corner, disrupting expectations of what belongs where, and to whom, an interior treasure transformed into public monument. Reiterer’s chandelier engages viewers inside as well: when visitors press a bell in the reception lobby, the sculpture’s audio component is activated, and the sound of breathing—distinctively human breathing—emanates from the chandelier’s speakers. A light sensor on the chandelier determines the auditory quality of the breathing: during the day, the sound is that of air inhaled; at night, breath being released, and the chandelier’s lights flicker on and off. On the side exterior wall of 21c Cincinnati features a 10’ x 80’ mural, Vibrant Minds Colorful Lines, painted by KIIK Create and Jenny Ustick. Created in 2017, this work activates the site’s brick alley, a well-traversed route of downtown pedestrians.


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