Bellevue Hotel: American Renaissance Revival at Its Best

The Bellevue Hotel, formally the Bellevue-Stratford, is one of the best examples of Renaissance Revival in the United States. It is also one of the oldest hotels in the country dating back to the early 20th century. The Bellevue is a landmark of American architecture of that particular period where Beaux Arts styles were becoming more and more popular.

The Bellevue Hotel exterior
Trev W. Adams

The Bellevue Hotel was built in 1904 but took 8 years to reach its final form. The hotel’s construction story is a great example of the so-called American Dream. In 1864, 13-year-old George Boldt emigrated from Prussia to the United States. Boldt worked for different hotels until 25 when he was hired as an assistant steward to the famous Philadelphia Club.

The Bellevue Hotel during corner exterior

As time passed, Boldt climbed the steps of success and finally became the owner of a hotel. However, this hotel was given to him by another wealthy man and he wanted to build a hotel of his own. The Bellevue Hotel was the result of Boldt’s dream.

the building and the square
The Belleuve Hotel

In the early 1900s, arguably the most popular architectural style was the Italian Renaissance Revival. The revival buildings were famous for their symmetrical façade, flat roofs, enormous size, and classical motifs and columns. These buildings also looked very imposing, similar to the castles and palaces of the old times.

The Bellevue Hotel during the evening
The Belleuve Hotel

True to fashion, the Bellevue Hotel represented, and still does, these characteristics. It is one of the tallest 20th-century hotels with a height of nearly 100 meters, its exterior is mostly symmetrical, and the interior is full of columns, golden tiles, motifs, and symbols.

the building staircase motifs

A lion’s head sculpture at the beginning of the staircase in the lobby.

the staircase lion sculpture
James Hogarty

While it is famous for various architectural qualities showing the mindset of the 1900s United States, the Bellevue is also notorious for a tragic and horrible event literally shut down the hotel for 2 years. In 1976, the people who went to the hotel for a convention got sick with a pneumonia-like disease. 29 died while hundreds of people were left requiring urgent medical care.

The Bellevue Hotel during the day
The Belleuve Hotel

After the outbreak ended, the hotel opened its doors again in 1978. In the following decades, the hotel also began to serve as an office space for businesses as well. Today, the Bellevue is both a hotel and a business center, towering over the citizens of the city.

The Bellevue Hotel exterior and passing cars
Jeffrey Team