Reporting on the opening of the Biltmore on June 6, 1922, the Providence Journal declared that the event would be “the most elaborate social event ever to be held in the city.” Owners John Bowman and Louis Wallick did not disappoint, lighting the exterior of their hotel with 25,000 lights and inviting celebrities and prominent leaders from New York and other surrounding states. The Biltmore was the largest building in the city at the time and held six hundred guest rooms. Although the building survived several natural disasters, including a hurricane in 1938 that left the lobby under eight feet of standing water. However, the luxury hotel almost succumbed to the effects of suburbanization, the changing tastes of consumers, and proliferation of smaller hotels. With fewer guests staying downtown and far more costs related to maintenance than newer hotels, the Biltmore closed in 1974. With the help of federal tax credits for historic buildings, a group of investors were able to purchase and renovate the property in the following years. The hotel re-opened in 1979 and is now part of the Hilton chain.
Backstory and Context
Reflecting the changing trends, the hotel that once held 600 guest rooms now includes a total of 229 rooms and suites. During the renovation, many walls were removed to provide larger standard rooms as well as the creation of numerous suites.
Famous guests have included John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, and boxer Rocky Marciano The hotel is a member of National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America program.