Jefferson Hotel (Richmond, Virginia)

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Jefferson Hotel
Jefferson Hotel Richmond VA.jpg
The historic Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond
General information
Location 101 W Franklin St., Richmond, Virginia, USA, 23220[1]
Coordinates 37°32′39.42″N 77°26′43.09″W / 37.5442833°N 77.4453028°W / 37.5442833; -77.4453028Coordinates: 37°32′39.42″N 77°26′43.09″W / 37.5442833°N 77.4453028°W / 37.5442833; -77.4453028
Opening 1895
Jefferson Hotel
Jefferson Hotel (Richmond, Virginia) is located in Virginia
Jefferson Hotel (Richmond, Virginia)
Location 104 W. Main St., Richmond, Virginia
Coordinates 37°32′39″N 77°26′44″W / 37.54417°N 77.44556°W / 37.54417; -77.44556
Area 1.5 acres (0.61 ha)
Built 1895
Architectural style Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 69000351[2]
VLR # 127-0001
Significant dates
Added to NRHP June 4, 1969
Designated VLR November 5, 1968[3]

The Jefferson Hotel is a luxury hotel in Richmond, Virginia, opened in 1895. In 1969,[4] it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Jefferson is one of 27 American hotels with Mobil Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Hotel ratings. The Jefferson Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[5] The hotel 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.


Tobacco baron Lewis Ginter began building the hotel in 1892 and opened it in 1895. It was designed by Carrère and Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library. A fire gutted the interior in 1901, and the hotel was restored and reopened in 1907.

Patrons have included presidents (William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin D. Roosevelt), writers, and celebrities, including Charles Lindbergh, The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Henry James, and Elvis Presley.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] Bronze statues of the alligators still decorate the hotel, and the hotel restaurant, Lemaire, is themed with alligator motiffs.[9]

In culture[edit]

Local urban legend has it that ballet 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 hotel's concierge, the author of the novel, Margaret Mitchell, stayed at the Jefferson during the time she was writing the book, 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.


  1. ^ "Jefferson Hotel by AreaG2". AreaG2, Inc. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  3. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Hotel Jefferson National Register Nomination". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 
  5. ^ The Hotel Jefferson, a Historic Hotels of America member. Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Henry James as Landlord." Retrieved on July 10, 2009.
  7. ^ Niven, David. "The Moon's a Balloon." Published 1972, Putnam Publishing. ISBN 0-399-10557-3
  8. ^ "Jefferson Hotel: History." Jefferson Hotel. Retrieved on July 11, 2007.
  9. ^ "Lemaire Fact Sheet [Press Release]". Lemaire Restaurant. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

The Jefferson Hotel: The History of a Richmond Landmark, by Paul N. Herbert, published by The History Press, 2012.

External links[edit]