The Palmer House Hilton
|Palmer House Hotel|
The Palmer House Hotel
|Location||17 E. Monroe Street Chicago, Illinois|
|Architect||John M. Van Osdel (original)
Holabird & Roche (current)
|Designated||December 13, 2006|
The Palmer House Hotel is a famous and historic hotel in Chicago in the city's Loop area. It currently operates under the full name Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel. The Palmer House Hotel is a member of Historic Hotel of America the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Three Palmer House hotels have been located at the corner of State and Monroe streets in Chicago.
First Palmer House
The first (known as "The Palmer") was built as a wedding present from Potter Palmer, one of the owners of Palmer Industries, to his bride Bertha Honoré. It opened on September 26, 1871, but burned down just 13 days later on October 9, 1871 in the Great Chicago Fire. At the time of the fire, many high-ranked Palmer Industries workers, including Potter Palmer, were living in the hotel as part of the opening celebrations. Fortunately for Palmer, he was warned of the fire and escaped unharmed. Palmer then immediately set to work rebuilding, and with a $1.7 million signature loan (believed to be the largest individual loan ever secured at that time), constructed one of the fanciest hotels worldwide in postfire Chicago.
Second Palmer House
Designed by architect John M. Van Osdel, the second Palmer House Hotel was seven stories. Its amenities included oversized rooms, luxurious decor, and sumptuous meals served in grand style. The floor of its barber shop was tiled and silver dollars were embedded in a diamond pattern. Constructed mainly of iron and brick, the hotel was widely advertised as, "The World's Only Fire Proof Hotel." Famous visitors included presidential hopefuls James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Ulysses S. Grant, William Jennings Bryan, and William McKinley; writers Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum, and Oscar Wilde; and actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. It was completed in 1875.
Third Palmer House
By the 1920s, the business in downtown Chicago could support a much larger facility, and the Palmer Estate decided to erect a new 25-story hotel. They hired Holabird & Roche to design the building. Between 1923 and 1925, the hotel was rebuilt on the same site — in stages so that not a single day of business was lost. At the time, it was touted as the largest hotel in the world.
In December 1945, Conrad Hilton bought the Palmer House for $20 million and it was thereafter known as The Palmer House Hilton. In 2005, it was sold to Thor Equities, but it remains part of the Hilton chain.
From 2007 to 2009, the hotel was completely renovated and restored by the architecture firm Loebl Schlossman & Hackl and the design firm Forrest Perkins.  The total cost was over $170 million.  The hotel has a total of 1,639 guest rooms, making it the second-largest hotel in the city after the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
The hotel has recently had its name adjusted to Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel.
- Chocolate brownie, invented at the hotel.
- Susan Bard Hall. "The Palmer House". Away.com Historic Traveller. Primedia Publications. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "It opened as The Palmer, at the northwest corner of State and Quincy streets, with 225 rooms on September 26, 1871. Thirteen days later, it burned in the Great Chicago Fire."
- Berger, Molly W. "Hotels" at the Encyclopedia of Chicago
- "Thor Buys Historic Palmer House Hotel from Hilton Hotels Corporation". Hilton Hotels Corporation. August 17, 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-21. "Thor Equities(SM) and Hilton Hotels Corporation (NYSE:HLT) announced today that Thor, through an affiliate, has acquired the historic Palmer House Hilton in Chicago from Hilton for $230 million."
- A Hotel Looks Back to Its 1920s Glamour. nytimes.com.
- Chicago's Largest Hotels ranked by number of guest rooms as of 12/31/2006, Crain's Chicago Business
- Robert V. Allegrini, Chicago's Grand Hotels: The Palmer House Hilton, The Drake, and The Hilton Chicago (ISBN 0738539546)
- Palmer House - official website
- Palmer House - official Facebook page
- Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel - official Hilton website with virtual tour
- Chicago Historical Society - 1873 description by Rudyard Kipling following the Great Chicago Fire
- Fred A. Bernstein, "A Hotel Looks Back to Its 1920s Glamour", New York Times, October 25, 2008
- Palmer House Hilton Reviews - Reviews of guests who have visited the hotel