Monday, October 15, 2012

A Gentleman's Respite

The airy and lofty Gentleman's Cafe' of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel...

The Gentleman' Cafe

The unbridled Grand Entrance of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel with its Italian Renaissance ceilings and gilt-finish decoration veered off to the north and south, entrances to the beautiful Dining-Room and the Gentleman's Cafe' beyond...

The Cafe' of the Bellevue-Stratford was a most handsome space filled with light and opulent decorations. The space was of a masculine undertone with dark pilasters and gilt decoration and exquisite bas-relief with brown and gold colours. The furniture made by Wanamaker was simple and wooden-paneled set around dozens of round tables. Light sconces with filigree and gilt bronze detail flanked the lofty walls and columns of Etruscan gold marble with gilt capitals crowned the great ceiling which was paneled in bas-relief and gilt-finish. The beautiful floors tiled with mosaic in reds and golds similar to the Lobby and Entrance. A most popular retreat with the patriarchs of Philadelphia's high society from leading debonair hoteliers (like Boldt himself) to politicians and even heads of state.

The Cafe would change dramatically in 1937 when the "Hunt Room" would open. This room featured a circular bar area, lots of polished tones of wood and a masculine undertone that was always present with-in the room itself! It quickly became Philadelphia's political debate, brawl, and smoking room for the shakers and makers of society.The demise of the Hotel brought the Hunt Room to a premature end on its closing night, hundreds crammed the large bar and restaurant for last farewells and to see if they could get a souvenir! The Richard I. Rubin Co. took over this interior and marked it for demolition. The offices and business of posh Polo Ralph Lauren all but destroyed the once infamous Gentleman's Cafe/turned Hunt Room! A detriment of great proportions!

A FAR CRY from anything original! Another disgrace to put on a growing list!

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