Redmont Hotel

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The Redmont in 1939. courtesy BPL Archives

The Redmont Hotel (sometimes Hotel Redmont) is a 14-story (160 foot) tall, 114-room hotel and conference center located at 2101 5th Avenue North, on the corner of 21st Street North. The Redmont, named after Red Mountain, is the oldest hotel in Birmingham still in use. It is currently owned by Jim Lewis, a managing partner of Bayshore Asset Managment in Tampa, Florida which purchased the hotel in 1998. He took over sole ownership by buying out his partners in Spring 2008.

History

The Redmont occupies the site which formerly housed the First Christian Church. It opened to guests on May 1, 1925, with a public grand opening on May 9. The 250-room hotel was constructed by the Smallman & Brice Company to plans drawn by architect Geoffry Lloyd Preacher of Atlanta.

The two-story lobby atrium is surrounded by a mezzanine level which gives access to dining and meeting rooms. Above the mezzanine are 11 floors of guest rooms (3 through 14, skipping 13), and a penthouse. The floor layout was unusual for its time in that each guest room had a private bath as well as chilled water and ceiling fans. The Redmont Hotel was advertised as "Birmingham's Most Modern Hotel" well into the 1930s under manager Frank M. (Pete) Woods. The Rainbow Room lounge debuted in 1937 and became the watering hole for an informal group of influential persons called the "Knothole Gang".

In 1946 the hotel was purchased by Clifford Stiles who added a penthouse apartment on the roof for himself and his family in 1947. Some say that Stiles, who died in 1972, still haunts the building.

Ad for the Blue Note nightclub in the Redmont

In 1951 the hotel's ballroom hosted numerous visiting celebrities who performed with the Theatre in the Round during its sole season. In 1952, singer Hank Williams spent his last night in the Redmont on an uncompleted trip from Montgomery to Charleston, West Virginia. One of the suites earned the moniker "the Lucky Governor's Suite" when it served as the local headquarters for the successful Jim Folsom and George Wallace gubernatorial campaigns of the 1960s. Alec Gulas' Blue Note nightclub featured exotic dancers.

During the next decades the building came to be used as housing for elderly residents. After decades of decline, the hotel was purchased in 1983 by an investment group made up of NBA players, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ralph Sampson. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 27 of that year. A $7 million dollar renovation led to a grand re-opening in 1985. Architect Neil Bruce of Bradford and Bruce Associates cut the number of rooms from 240 to 110 during a complete structural reconditioning. The mezzanine balcony was re-opened and the exterior walls were repaired and restored. Angi Proctor of Southeastern Interior Concepts designed the room interiors while Howard Tutwiler of Tutwiler Design Associates handed the lobby, restaurant, and bar, as well as the newly-created basement meeting rooms. Both designers employed traditional styles rather than the contemporary boutique style originally envisioned by the California-based ownership group.

During the 1990s the hotel was affiliated with the Holiday Inn chain, switching to Crowne Plaza in 2001.

The Redmont logo.jpg
Redmont Hotel sign in 2007
Redmont Hotel logo.png

In 1998, the hotel was sold to Bayshore Company of Tampa, which performed another refurbishment in 2000, uncovering previously hidden architectural details and cleaning the exterior. In April 2006 Bayshore announced plans to convert 20 guest rooms on its two uppermost floors into eight 1- and 2-bedroom condominiums with another luxury condominium in the 2-story penthouse. The hotel's name was changed to the Redmont Hotel & Residences and its association with Crowne Plaza was dissolved. The remodeling was put on hold in November of that year, however, due to lack of interest.

In 2008 the Redmont's general manager, Georgian Fortunado, announced plans for a $1 million renovation which would include adding a rooftop tapas bar, converting the 2nd floor dining area into meeting space and building a bar and bistro at ground level.

The Redmont has a café (The Redmont Café) and lounge (The Rare Olive), and also hosts a weekly rooftop jazz concert in the summer. In 2009 the hotel replaced its penthouse suite and fitness center with Above, a rooftop bar.

In early 2010 Bayshore Redmont Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection during a loan dispute with BB&T Corp., but did not expect the filing to affect hotel operations.

References

  • Mendelson, Mitch (December 8, 1986) "Weary travelers find first-class resting places" Birmingham Post-Herald - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
  • Williams, Roy L. (April 12, 2006) "Redmont Hotel top floors going condo". Birmingham News
  • Bosley, Anita S. (September 1, 2000) "Building holds clues to '20s-era Birmingham". Birmingham Business Journal
  • Williams, Roy L. (July 21, 2006) "Redmont condos go on sale Sept. 1." Birmingham News
  • Williams, Roy L. (May 4, 2007) "Redmont Hotel for sale again." Birmingham News
  • Williams, Roy L. (May 9, 2008) "Birmingham's Redmont Hotel slated for $1 million upgrade." Birmingham News
  • Williams, Roy L. (June 19, 2008) "Tampa man buys out partners at Redmont Hotel, aims to restore its former glory." Birmingham News

External links