View of the Normandie Hotel from Muñoz Rivera Avenue
Location of the Hotel Normandie in Puerto Rico
|Location||Ponce de León Ave. and San Gerónimo St., San Juan, Puerto Rico|
|Architect||Richard,Raúl; Benítez Rexach,Félix|
|Architectural style||Art Deco|
|NRHP Reference #||80004295|
|Added to NRHP||August 29, 1980|
The Normandie Hotel is a hotel located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel originally opened on October 10, 1942. Its design was inspired by the ocean liner SS Normandie. It features the same art deco design as the ship that inspired it, and the hotel's roof sign is one of the two signs that adorned the top deck of the Normandie but were removed from it during an early refitting. It is a fine example of what came to be known as the Streamline Moderne architecture style.
The Normandie Hotel was the brainchild of Puerto Rican engineer Félix Benítez Rexach. The engineer met his future wife while on a trip aboard the SS Normandie. As a tribute to his French wife, Moineau, Benítez decided to construct a structure that imitated the lavish settings of the ocean liner. Designed by architect Raúl Reichard (1908–1996), the hotel began construction in 1938. The hotel's exterior was designed to resemble a luxury liner, elongated and curved in front, with portal-shape windows and lights. Inside, the hotel features art deco design, complete with Roman, Egyptian, and French details, high ceilings, and corridors looking down into a central skylighted atrium.
Designers and artists from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, France, and Spain all contributed to the hotel's overall construction. When it opened on October 10, 1942, it became an instant sensation among the island's social elite. Completed at a cost of more than US$2,000,000, the hotel catered to many major Hollywood and Latin American film stars such as Cantinflas, Libertad Lamarque and Jorge Negrete. The hotel also served as a performing arts venue for many of Puerto Rico's top entertainers such as Ruth Fernández, Myrta Silva, Sylvia Rexach, and Carmen Delia Dipini.
After being closed and abandoned in the 1960s, the hotel was restored in the early 1990s after it underwent massive renovations due to heavy damage caused by Hurricane Georges in 1998. After storm-related damages were repaired, the hotel remained in business until 2004, when a renovation project commenced. In early 2005, the 173-room hotel reopened after its refurbishing, however it was closed once again sometime after 2008 due to an ongoing modernization project.
Most recently, the Normandie Hotel was purchased on August 8, 2013 by Ben Medetsky and Jack Polatsek of Interra Capital Group http://www.interracapital.com, who are working on plans for redevelopment of the hotel.
- The music video for singer Sade Adu's song King of Sorrow (from her Lovers Rock album) was filmed in and around the hotel by director Sophie Muller.
- The hotel served as a locale for one of the four stories that helped compose the storyline for the 2001 film 12 Horas directed by Puerto Rican director Raúl Marchand Sánchez.
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