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The Jefferson Hotel


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The Jefferson Hotel Richmond, VA

The Jefferson Hotel  Richmond, VA
The Jefferson Hotel is a luxury hotel in Richmond, Virginia. It is one of 27 American hotels with Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel ratings. It is accompanied by Lemaire, a Five Diamond Restaurant named after Etienne Lemaire, who served as maitre d'hotel to Thomas Jefferson from 1794 through the end of his presidency.

History

Tobacco baron Lewis Ginter began building the hotel in 1892 and opened it in 1895. Designed by Carrère and Hastings, the same architecture firm that designed the New York Public Library, it burned in 1901 and was restored and reopened in 1907.

Patrons have included presidents, writers, and celebrities, including The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Henry James, and Elvis Presley. For many decades, the hotel was the home of Historic Garden Week.

In his autobiography, The Moon's A Balloon, Academy Award-winning actor David Niven described how he was on a trip from New York to Florida in the late 1930s when he decided to spend the night at the Jefferson Hotel. Niven stated that as he was signing the guest registry, his eyes snapped open with amazement when he noticed a full-sized alligator swimming in a small pool located six feet from the reception desk. Alligators at the Jefferson would become world famous, and the last alligator living in the marble pools of the Jefferson's Palm Court, named Old Pompey, remained there until he died in 1948.

Local urban legend has it that tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was discovered while working as a bellhop at the hotel. However, this is most likely untrue. When the Jefferson Hotel opened in 1895, Robinson (then 16) was already touring with traveling shows on the black theater circuit.

Another urban legend states that the Grand Staircase in the lobby was featured in the classic movie Gone with the Wind. According to the concierge, the author of the novel, Margaret Mitchell, stayed at the Jefferson during the time she was writing the book, and thus the description and portrayal of the staircase in her novel is said to be inspired by the one in the hotel. The 1981 film My Dinner with Andre, however, was entirely shot inside the hotel.

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