by Kaylee Hultgren | September 01, 2007

Bronze elevator doors at Jumeirah Essex House

The gleaming
bronze elevator doors
at the Jumeirah Essex
House in New York City

Apair of intricately engraved, bronze elevator doors inside New York City’s Jumeirah Essex House gleam as if new, although they’ve opened to guests since 1931. Across the country at the Hotel Colorado, in Glenwood Springs, the illustrious halls of a century-old castle betray a feeling, nearly palpable, that past presidents and dignitaries once dined within them.

Such is the craftsmanship and singular design of a former age, present and well preserved within a group of 213 nationally recognized, historically relevant properties designated as Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. All are enriched by finely maintained architecture, tales of former patrons and amenities to accommodate today’s business needs.

To be welcomed into the group, the properties must offer full-service amenities; be located within a structure that is more than 50 years old; and be listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, or acknowledged by the community as historically significant.

Featured below are the six newest additions to the Historic Hotels family. The collection is an exceedingly broad cross-section of American cultural history, ranging from a 200-year-old former cattle ranch to an Italian-style luxury villa for 20th-century America’s social elite.

The Colcord Hotel
Oklahoma City, Okla.
(405) 601-4300;

It is difficult to imagine that the thick slabs of black and white marble blanketing the walls of the Colcord lobby were confined to an office building since the hotel opened its doors in 1910. The property was, in fact, originally designed and conceived as a hotel, but after architect Charles Francis Colcord and his business partner parted ways shortly before its opening, it was unveiled as an office building. Today, in the wake of a multimillion-dollar renovation, the structure’s century-old marble has been cut, cleaned and reshaped, and the building’s original purpose as a full-service hotel literally has resurfaced.

Despite having the distinction of being Oklahoma’s first skyscraper, the 108-room boutique property offers amenities that disguise this legacy. Fitness and business centers are available, as well as a brand new lower-level cocktail lounge for the hip, after-hours crowd. The Colcord offers its own restaurant, the Soleil. The defining feature of the upscale eatery is the Oyster Bar, which, due to numerous requests from members of the community, was fashioned in the image of the building’s popular 1950s original. Two meeting rooms, totaling 1,800 square feet of space, and more than 4,900 square feet of prefunction and event space are available.

Downtown Oklahoma City is clearly enjoying a renaissance, and the Colcord Hotel is in the center of it. The 17-acre Myriad Botanical Gardens, the Ford Event Center sporting complex and Bricktown, Oklahoma City’s trendy entertainment district, are all within yards of the hotel’s entryway.

Lobby lounge at the Skirvin Hilton
High style: The recently
restored lobby lounge
of the Skirvin Hilton,
Oklahoma City

The Skirvin Hilton
Oklahoma City, Okla.
(405) 272-3040;

The expansive architecture of the 225-room Skirvin Hilton, Oklahoma City’s original grande dame, calls to mind the wide-open spaces of the southwestern plains. Equally impressive is the 1911 hotel’s extensive restoration and revival as the city’s focal point for social gatherings. The unrivaled gem of the property’s recent $55 million renovation is the 14th-floor Venetian Room, named for its Italian renaissance decor. The black mahogany wood paneling throughout and the Italian plaster moldings of its barrel ceiling have been carefully restored, and windows on all four sides of the room offer views of the Oklahoma City skyline. Once a popular spot for big band music and dancing, the Venetian Room attracted well-known musicians such as Johnnie Johnson and Charlie Straight, and also has received presidential visits from Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gerald Ford.

The property’s 18,500 square feet of meeting space includes two high-
ceilinged ballrooms accommodating 230 and 670 guests, respectively; the 2,600-square-foot Vene-tian Room, which seats 175; the 1,444-square-foot Continental Room seating 110, and three lounge areas. Elegant meeting facilities are complemented with broadband access, a high-tech business center, a health club and a signature restaurant.

The Skirvin’s central location gives attendees full access to Oklahoma City’s bustling downtown district. Alternatively, attendees may take a break from the urbane and experience a taste of the Old West at the nearby National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.