A HISTORY OF THE BELVEDERE
“A hotel is, after all, a domestic building, and like other domestic buildings it should present an inviting appearance to the public. It should even more than other domestic buildings tempt the guest to enter. Not very many modern American hotels have succeeded in creating this impression… But in the Hotel Belvedere this very impression was produced with eminent success…” (The Architectural Record, August 1913)
The Belvedere was erected on land that was once part of the extensive estate of General John Eager Howard, hero of the American Revolution. It was named after the Howard mansion, Belvedere, which was built in 1794 approximately one block east of the existing hotel.
The official opening, celebrated December 14, 1903, was the social event of the season attended by leaders of art, fashion, industry, finance and the professions. Hotel experts throughout the United States acclaimed The Hotel Belvedere as perfect in construction and the last word in hotel design.
For the 10-day Democratic National Convention which nominated Woodrow Wilson for President in 1912, six hundred guests registered at The Belvedere. The hotel was so crowded that cots were set up in the halls and banquet rooms.
When Charles Schwab, The Steel Czar, came to Baltimore in 1915 to Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant, he made The Belvedere his headquarters. The patronage of his company continued through the years, including many parties for launchings of Bethlehem’s Liberty Ships during World War II. Daniel Willard, president of The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, lived in The Belvedere for the first five years of his long residence in Baltimore.
The genial Colonel Charles Consolvo, a Norfolk and Richmond hotel operator, assumed control of the hotel in 1917 from Union Trust Company and operated it for 18 years.
Mary Pickford, probably the nation’s most popular actress in the early part of the century, came to The Belvedere in April 1918 to speak at an exhibition and help sell war bonds during World War I. After Ft. George Meade opened, a contingent of British and French officers sent to instruct Americans in the art of modern warfare frequented The Belvedere Owl Bar in their off-hours.
The hotel outdid itself on the occasion of Queen Marie of Rumania’s 1926 visit to Baltimore. A canopy of royal purple was hung above the entrance; the Queen’s suite of rooms was paneled in silk and furnished with Louis XIV pieces; the elevators were draped in the Rumanian national colors; the ballroom was banked with flowers; the walls were hung with old tapestries; and an ancient throne was provided for the Queen.
The late “30’s” brought many changes to The Belvedere Hotel. The John Eager Howard Room was redecorated and with the end of Prohibition, was no longer a “tea room.” In 1937, for this grand opening, the celebrated Charles Willson Peale portrait of Colonel John Eager Howard was returned “home” to The Belvedere.
Then, in 1953 The John Eager Howard Room was redecorated and named The Jubilee Room. It continued as the favorite meeting place for afternoon tea and cocktails, before dinner entertaining, evening social gatherings and a quartet of musicians listening enjoyment.
After many changes of ownership Victor Frenkil, a Baltimore businessman, purchased The Belvedere in 1976 and the restoration and revitalization of the “Grand Old Dame” of Belvedere began.
Today, Old World elegance still exists at The Belvedere, where you will find all the amenities and comforts of today combined with the tranquility, privacy and unobtrusive service of yesterday.
Whether you are in Baltimore for business or pleasure, you’ll find The Belvedere refreshingly extraordinary.
FAMOUS GUESTS OF THE BELVEDERE
Al Pacino, Patti Labelle, F Scott Fitzgerald, Kenny Rogers, Roy Rogers, David Copperfield, Duke & Duchess of Windsor, President Theo Roosevelt, President Taft, President Wilson, President Hoover, President Franklin D Roosevelt, President Harding, President Truman, President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, President Reagan, Queen Marie of Rumania, Will Rogers, Sara Bernhardt, Sir Henry Irving, Henry Fonda, Harry P Belafonte, Andrew Carnegie, John D Rockefeller, Lady Astor, Jean Harlow, Oscar Hammerstein, Anna Pavlova, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Admiral Byrd, Admiral Perry, Samuel Clemens, Lauren Bacall, Fred Astaire, Peter Lorre, Mrs Calvin Coolidge, John Philip Sousa, Sarah Jessica Parker, Renee Zellweger, Tim Allen, Kirstie Alley