Lord Nelson Hotel
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The Lord Nelson Hotel is a grand hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is located on the corner of Spring Garden and South Park Streets across from the Halifax Public Gardens. It was built in 1927 by a consortium of investors led by the Canadian Pacific Railway who wanted a Halifax anchor to the chain of hotels operated by its Nova Scotian subsidiary, the Dominion Atlantic Railway. Along with the rival Canadian National Railway's Hotel Nova Scotian which began the same year, the Lord Nelson was Halifax's first modern hotel. The hotel was named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who ironically never came to Halifax in his famous naval career, but whose name stood for naval traditions strongly associated with the heritage of Halifax.
On Friday, October 21, 1927, construction on the Lord Nelson Hotel began at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street on the old Dwyer property. The turning of the first sod was done by Mayor Kenny of Halifax, supported by a group of friends and well-wishers.
The task of supervising the construction was assumed by O.C. Gross, architect, with construction carried out by H.L. Stevens & Co. of New York and Toronto, for Canadian Pacific Railways, which had already constructed a chain of hotels in the Annapolis Valley for its subsidiary, the Dominion Atlantic Railway. The Stevens company had building experience in frosty winter weather; at night they heated the building area just completed with small stoves which kept the frost from getting into the finished walls. The building has a reinforced concrete foundation, topped with a course of granite to support the brick walls.
The hotel closest in style to the Lord Nelson Hotel at the time of construction was the Van Curler Hotel at Schenectady, New York, which was built for the General Electric Company. The walls of the Lord Nelson are of bluenose brick with ornate frame and Nova Scotia trip, with the concrete framework being covered in by brick. The aim of the construction was to use local materials and to award contracts locally. As much as possible materials available in Nova Scotia were used, although some had to be imported.
The main entrance to the hotel is on South Park Street, and originally featured a semi-circular driveway with trees and shrubs. The Georgian style has been incorporated in the construction of the hotel, featuring special decorations pertaining to Lord Nelson. From the lobby you can see a large mural of Nelson addressing his men on the deck of his flagship HMS Victory, just before the Battle of Trafalgar. This painting was done by Sister Agnes Berchmans, a native of New Brunswick. Her family moved to Eelbrook, Nova Scotia and young Julia Landry entered the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, where she was professed as Sister Agnes Berchmans at the turn of the century. There are two of her paintings in the hotel, the large mural, and smaller one located in the Georgian Lounge. The gold leaf lobby ceiling is copied from the ceiling in the House of Commons in Ottawa, and was hand-finished by an Italian craftsman. There are floral and other motifs on the inverted sections, with the C.P. Railways logo among them. The lobby is 80 feet by 40 feet, and the Georgian Lounge is 60 feet by 28 feet. The original ballroom, which is called the Regency is 88 feet by 38 feet and still has the original hardwood floor and crystal chandeliers.
The original section of the hotel had seven stories with 200 rooms. There have since been two additions, and the hotel now features 260 rooms. The 8th and 9th floors were added in 1966, and the North Tower section was added in 1975. The hotel helped make Spring Garden Road into a major shopping district. Spring Garden Road shops at the time of construction simply consisted of a beauty shop, a barber shop, and a large grill; a drug store now occupies the space that was once the grill.
The Lord Nelson Hotel opened for business on October 23, 1928. The hotel has changed hands over the years and is now privately owned.
The Lord Nelson Hotel was named after England’s greatest naval hero: Horatio Nelson. A young student, Oswald Schenk, won a contest for suggesting the name of the hotel. The hotel opened during the early days of radio and because of its height, CHNS, which begn in 1926, moved its broadcast studio from the old Carleton Hotel to the roof of the new Lord Nelson in 1928. It inspired a critically acclaimed novel by Ray Smith called Lord Nelson Tavern, first published in 1974. The Lord Nelson also inspired the fictional hotel featured in the award winning 1998 novel The Museum Guard by Howard Norman. Famous guests who have stayed at the Lord Nelson Hotel include the Rolling Stones, Anne Murray, Keith Urban, the White Stripes, Jerry Seinfeld, Ozzy Osbourne, and Paul McCartney.
- *"Lord Nelson Hotel", Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Institute
- "Dominion Atlantic Hotels, Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Institute
- William March, 1986, Red Line: The Chronicle-Herald and The Mail-Star 1875-1954, Halifax: Chronicle Agencies Limited, p. 216
- Nova Scotia Archives, Broadcasting from the Lord Nelson hotel, 1928
- Biblioasis, Lord Nelson Tavern