Monday, October 15, 2012

Decadence and Marble

Photographic views of the undulating decadence of the Bellevue-Stratford...
The Main Entrance and Lobby

Peeking through the glass entrances of the Bellevue-Stratford, one could only dream what lied beyond the lofty gold marble and gilt plaster ceilings... The Main Foyer and Entrance of the Hotel was just that... a dream.

When George C. Boldt envisioned his masterpiece, he envisioned the likes of the Waldorf and the Astoria, and other older hotels of the era and period when designing the Bellevue-Stratford. The Grand Entrance and Lobby is evidence of this vision! Most Gilded Age hotels honed stained-glass ceilings and intricate detailed domed cupolas and extensive uses of marble for their entrances and foyers. The Bellevue-Stratford being its size and shape had an advantage and this advantage wasn't taken lightly!

The architects G.W. & W.D Hewitt designed according to Boldt what he had envisioned for his beautiful Hotel. The entire interior was framed in the decadence of the Italian Renaissance with gilt bas-relief decorations of plasterwork and buffish-cream painted ceilings and decoration. The columns, pilasters and even half wall were faced with Etruscan gold marble, the capitals adorning covered with bas-relief and gold-leaf finish... The great entrances to several of the public spaces; The Dining-Room, Cafe', Viennese Tea-Room and Ladies' Reception-Room were all inset glass with arches and wrought-iron with polished wood paneling and plasterwork crown-molding! The effect alone of this was tantalizing enough for onlookers taking a peek but it was given more pop with the extensive use of real mosaic floor tiles in pale backgrounds with golds, reds and browns in floral motifs alternating through-out. Windows were crowned with stained-glass transoms and draped with simple sheer lace and satin... The unique marble reception-desk flanked by columns and paneled with rich decadence... a faded glory all its own. The men's letter box with Shakespeare's face atop it in gilt-finish... the beauty of it all!

Furniture seating arrangements upholstered in red with gold accents and motifs... Persian and oriental carpets and area rugs dotting the great mosaic floors... Shakespeare's statue standing in glory when one first entered this colossus... All of this unbridled elegance and luxury. The 1950's would see to the end of it...

Stainless steel and harsh fluorescent lighting made early graves of the Hotel's refined splendour... The Lobby suffered, with renovations and remodeling of the arched entrance-ways and even the exterior awnings of glass and wrought-iron being dismantled, taking away from her beauty and charm... The true tragedy for the Lobby came with the advent of the 1980's.

The Rubin Co. wanting to modernize, and keep the Hotel running changed the scape of this beautiful space... Starbucks and "The Palm" becoming steadfast tenants, Teuscher's and Nicole Miller filling up originally open and airy corridors... The original reception-desk gone... bits of it still viewable in the current lobby desk. So much has changed!

A glaring oversight.

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