Providence Biltmore

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Graduate Providence
Biltmore Hotel Providence RI 2017.jpg
Graduate Providence, seen in 2017
General information
Location11 Dorrance Street,
Providence, Rhode Island 02903, United States
CompletedJune 6, 1922
Roof220 ft (67 m)
Technical details
Floor count18
Design and construction
ArchitectWarren & Wetmore
Other information
Number of rooms294[1]
Providence-Biltmore Hotel
Providence Biltmore is located in Rhode Island
Providence Biltmore
Providence Biltmore is located in the United States
Providence Biltmore
LocationProvidence, Rhode Island
Coordinates41°49′27″N 71°24′49″W / 41.82417°N 71.41361°W / 41.82417; -71.41361Coordinates: 41°49′27″N 71°24′49″W / 41.82417°N 71.41361°W / 41.82417; -71.41361
ArchitectWarren & Wetmore
Architectural styleFederal, Beaux Arts
Part ofDowntown Providence Historic District (#84001967)
NRHP reference #77000005[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPMay 27, 1977
Designated CPFebruary 10, 1984

The Graduate Providence is an upscale hotel that opened in 1922 as the Providence Biltmore Hotel, part of the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels chain. It is located on the southern corner of Kennedy Plaza at 11 Dorrance Street in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[3]


Early history[edit]

The Providence Biltmore was constructed by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels chain, founded by John McEntee Bowman and Louis Wallick. It was built in the neo-Federal Beaux-arts style and designed by the architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore, who also designed Grand Central Terminal. The hotel opened on June 6, 1922,[4] and was the second-tallest building in the city after the Rhode Island State House, until the Industrial Trust Tower was finished six years later.[5] Today, the Biltmore is the 9th-tallest building in the city.

The Biltmore was bought by Sheraton Hotels in 1947 and renamed the Sheraton-Biltmore Hotel. Providence was flooded by Hurricane Carol in 1954, and much of the lobby of the Sheraton-Biltmore was underwater; a plaque commemorates the high water mark today, eight feet up on lobby columns.[6] Sheraton sold the hotel in 1968 and it regained its original name.


In 1975, the Biltmore closed and remained vacant for four years.[7] At one point, with the hotel facing demolition; Mayor Buddy Cianci helped with efforts to designate the hotel a landmark[8] and assembled a group of local businessmen, including Bruce Sundlun of the Outlet Company, Michael Metcalf of The Providence Journal, G. William Miller of Textron, and Jim Winoker and Dominic Zinni of B.B. Greenberg Company, who purchased the hotel and implemented Federal tax credits to rehabilitate the building, reopening it in 1979 as the Biltmore Plaza Hotel.[9] The Biltmore's external glass elevator was added during this rehabilitation, and served all 18 floors of the hotel (though it no longer runs). In 1983, the owners retained Dunfey Hotels to manage the property, and it was renamed Biltmore Plaza, A Dunfey Hotel.[10] Soon after, Dunfey's owner, Aer Lingus, purchased the Omni Hotels chain, and the hotel was renamed the Omni Biltmore Hotel. By the 1990s, the Omni Biltmore was fully owned by The Providence Journal.[11] They sold the hotel to the Grand Heritage Hotels chain in July 1995 for $7 million,[12] and it was renamed the Providence Biltmore. The hotel was sold out of receivership on May 31, 2012 to Finard Coventry Hotel Management, for $16 million.[13] Finard Coventry invested a further $10 million in renovations,[14] and the hotel joined Curio - A Collection by Hilton, on December 16, 2014.[15]

Graduate Providence[edit]

A small sign above the awning announces the new name.

In October 2017, the Biltmore was sold to AJ Capital Partners, a Chicago-based hotel and real estate firm, for $43.6 million.[16] The hotel was renovated and renamed Graduate Providence on April 2, 2019[17], as part of AJ Capital's boutique chain of "Graduate" hotels, in college towns across the United States.[1] The new owners have retained the hotel's iconic neon "Biltmore" sign.[16]


The hotel was originally built with 600 rooms; later, walls were knocked down and suites were created. It now offers 292 guest rooms. A branch of McCormick & Schmick's Restaurant and the Spa at the Providence Biltmore also occupy space at the hotel.

The hotel contains banquet space of over 19,000 square feet (1,800 m2). The rooftop level Grand Ballroom offers expansive views of the city and Kennedy Plaza and can hold up to 750 guests; its event space is designed for functions such as wedding receptions, banquet service, and conferences.

It was the tallest and largest hotel in Providence for 71 years, until The Westin Providence (today known as the Omni Providence Hotel) was completed in 1993. the hotel was home to the largest Starbucks in New England[18] from 2003-2019.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

Cinema backdrop[edit]

The Providence Biltmore features prominently in the 2004 Jeff Nathanson film The Last Shot, and the 2007 Anne Fletcher film 27 Dresses.

Showtime episodes of Brotherhood from 2004 to 2007 were also shot here.


The Hotel is the scene of a Brown University collegiate reunion in The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b McGowan, Dan (24 October 2017). "Providence Biltmore sold, to be converted to Graduate Hotel". WPRI News. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
  3. ^ "Providence Biltmore Hotel, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^
  5. ^ Woodward, Wm McKenzie. Guide to Providence Architecture. 1st ed. United States: 2003. ISBN 0-9742847-0-X. p. 99.
  6. ^ Providence Biltmore Hotel History - The Biltmore
  7. ^ Jonic, Flo. "The Providence Biltmore: 90 years of rich history". RINPR. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
  8. ^ Kostrzewa, John (25 December 2016). "John Kostrzewa: A winter night's tour of the Providence skyline". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 25 December 2016.
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  16. ^ a b Dunn, Christine (26 October 2017). "New owners say they'll save Biltmore sign". The Providence Journal. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  17. ^ Nagle, Kate (2 April 2019). "NEW: Biltmore Hotel Name Changed to Graduate Providence". GoLocal Providence.
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External links[edit]