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History Redefined

The Mayfair Hotel (now The Magnolia Hotel) is a historic hotel in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The Mayfair was founded by hotelier Charles Heiss from Bavaria. Heiss had previous hotel experience in Europe, Canada, and America, including time as the assistant manager at the Knickerbocker in New York and with Statler Hotels (an early American hotel chain) where he had managed their Detroit hotel. Mr. Heiss was transferred to St. Louis to manage the Statler hotel there, which he did for some years before having a disagreement with Mr. Statler, in which he swore to build better hotels nearby in St. Louis.

The hotel was built circa 1924-26 and designed by prominent St. Louis architect Preston J. Bradshaw. The concrete building is faced in red brick and terra cotta; it utilizes terra cotta extensively in its facing, window frames, ornaments, and cornices. The 18 story building contained three high speed elevators which were tended to by elevator operators. The Mayfair opened its doors on August 29, 1925 for a private reception and dinner for the 120 stockholders and contractors. The next evening 4,000 guests were invited for a grand opening and dedication.

The Mayfair Hotel featured a nine chair barbershop, a six booth beauty parlor (unlike at many hotels where these services would be located in a basement), and private dining rooms and a luxurious lounge in the mezzanine off of the lobby. Noted guests of the hotel throughout the years were Irving Berlin, John Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Radio station KMOX went on the air from a studio in the mezzanine of the Mayfair in 1925. KMOX installed an $18,000 Kilgen organ and held recitals every day at noon and between 6 and 7 p.m.

In 1977, the hotel's interior was renovated, removing 85 rooms; while the interior was redecorated, the renovation kept the original features when possible, maintaining the building's historic value. The hotel currently operates as the Magnolia Hotel and is one of the few historic commercial buildings in downtown St. Louis which is still a prosperous business.

The hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 17, 1979.

Source: Wikipedia

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