Atlanta Biltmore Hotel and Biltmore Apartments
Opened in 1924, the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel and Biltmore Apartments was described as the "city's point of contact with the world beyond its own borders." It was built around the same time that grand, modern hotels were popping up around the country. William Candler, son of Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler, was the local financier behind the Biltmore project, buying the land for the hotel in 1921. It was built in conjunction with Holland Ball Judkins and John McEntee Bowman of the New York-based Biltmore hotel chain, named after the Vanderbilt family estate in North Carolina.
Backstory and Context
The Atlanta Biltmore was located in an upper-class residential neighborhood, close to downtown but separated from the business district. Both its location and restrained exterior design, with Neo-Georgian detailing, was intended to appeal to the upper-class and was thought to reflect the refined grace of the New South. The six million dollar hotel opened with great fanfare, and a train was chartered from New York City to bring prominent Northern hotel men to Atlanta for the festivities. A dinner-dance at the hotel that evening was broadcast nationally over the radio, and during the opening weekend, 1,000 cars made the circular sweep through the hotel's gardens and terrace drive.
The Atlanta Biltmore, once known as the South's signature hotel, staged galas, tea dances, debutante balls, and recitals by visiting Metropolitan Opera stars. It served celebrities such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mary Pickford, Bette Davis, and Charles Lindbergh. The hotel was the initial home of the Atlanta Historical Society and the meeting place for many of the city's civic organizations.