The Palmer House Hilton

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This article is about the hotel in Chicago. For other uses, see Palmer House (disambiguation). For Potter Palmer's mansion, see Palmer Mansion.
Palmer House Hotel
Palmer House (7184381863).jpg
The Palmer House Hotel
Location 17 E. Monroe Street Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°52′49″N 87°37′37″W / 41.880344°N 87.626910°W / 41.880344; -87.626910Coordinates: 41°52′49″N 87°37′37″W / 41.880344°N 87.626910°W / 41.880344; -87.626910
Built 1875
Rebuilt 1923-1925
Architect John M. Van Osdel (original)
Holabird & Roche (current)
Designated December 13, 2006
The Palmer House Hilton is located in Chicago
The Palmer House Hilton
Location of Palmer House Hotel in Chicago

The Palmer House Hilton is a famous and historic hotel in Chicago in the city's Loop area. Currently operating as the Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel, it is a Historic Hotel of America member,[1] the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Palmer House Hotel Ladies Entrance (19 September 1903)

Three Palmer House hotels have been located at the corner of State and Monroe streets in Chicago.

First Palmer House[edit]

Stereoscopic view of the first Palmer House

The first (known as "The Palmer") was built as a wedding present from Potter Palmer 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. Palmer 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.

Stereoscopic view of the ruins of the first Palmer House after the Great Chicago Fire

Second Palmer House[edit]

Stereoscopic view of the 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."[2] 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.[citation needed] It was completed in 1875.

Third Palmer House[edit]

The lobby of the 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.[3]

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.[4]

From 2007 to 2009, the hotel was completely renovated and restored by the architecture firm Loebl Schlossman & Hackl.[5] The total cost was over $170 million.[6] The hotel has a total of 1,639 guest rooms, making it the second-largest hotel in the city after the Hyatt Regency Chicago.[7] It has recently had its name adjusted to Palmer House - A Hilton Hotel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Historic Hotel of America
  2. ^ Susan Bard Hall. "The Palmer House". 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. 
  3. ^ Berger, Molly W. "Hotels" at the Encyclopedia of Chicago
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ Weiner, Michael A. (Nov–Dec 2007). "Palmer House Hilton in process of restoring aging infrastructure". Hospitality Construction. 2 (6): 38. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  6. ^ A Hotel Looks Back to Its 1920s Glamour.
  7. ^ Chicago's Largest Hotels ranked by number of guest rooms as of 12/31/2006, Crain's Chicago Business

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert V. Allegrini, Chicago's Grand Hotels: The Palmer House Hilton, The Drake, and The Hilton Chicago (ISBN 0738539546)

External links[edit]