Thomas Jefferson Hotel, 1925-1972
Construction on the Thomas Jefferson Hotel began in 1925 and was completed in 1929-just prior to the stock market crash. Reflecting the optimism of its boosters and others who hoped Birmingham would become an international destination, the hotel was equipped with a rooftop system designed to moor Zeppelin airships and other dirigibles. Sadly, no airship ever docked to the building. However, the hotel was famous for ornate marble lobby, luxury retailers, and its ballrooms and grand dining room.
Thomas Jefferson Hotel in 2008, with signage for the defunct "Leer Tower" plan, and the stump of the Zeppelin mooring mast visible on the roof.
The hotel in 1949.
A postcard from the hotel, circa 1940
Backstory and Context
As consumer tastes shifted away from downtown hotels, this 19-story hotel was sold to a chain that rebranded the grand hotel in 1972. However, the Cabana Hotel was short-lived, and the space later was used for apartments before being acquired and space in the building being leased to businesses as part of the Leer Tower. Like the other post-1972 owners, the operators of Leer Tower were unable to maintain the building. As of December 2015, plans are in place to convert the historic building into luxury condominiums.
McMullan, Michael. "Cabana Hotel to Be Closed." Birmingham Post Hearld May 11, 1983 http://www.forgottensoutheast.com/locations/thomasjeffersonhotel/index.php# Images from the Birmingham Public Library