Before Westin Came Hotel Charlotte
In 1920, Charlotte was on its way to becoming the dominant textile center of the Carolinas. But business leaders worried about the city's reputation for poor hotel accommodations. "A city without an up-to-date hotel is like a private home without a spare room for company," declared banker Word Wood.
After organizing a pledge drive, by late April the Chamber of Commerce raised $780,000, prompting a front-page headline that declared "Million Dollar Hotel Assured for Charlotte."
Built at the southeast corner of West Trade and South Poplar streets, the posh, twelve-story Hotel Charlotte opened in March, 1924 with 254 rooms. It attracted notable guests like Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, baseball legend Babe Ruth, and boxing champ Jack Dempsey.
RCA even established a recording studio on the tenth floor where Bill and Charlie Monroe, Roy Acuff, and other stars recorded their hits.
But Hotel Charlotte gradually declined and closed in 1973.
The building was imploded in 1988 to make way for the Carillon Building. The hotel's ornate mahogany bar and solid cherry valet doors were salvaged and can be seen at the Hotel Charlotte Restaurant on South Sharon Amity Road.
Construction of the hotel also led to a bitter feud that prompted the city’s most influential business leader to close his local operations and move to a competing city. More on that next month.