A type of "apartment hotel" popular during the 1920s, the Atlanta
Biltmore Hotel and Biltmore Apartments opened in 1924 and was described
as the "city's point of contact with the world beyond its own borders."
The 11-story hotel and adjacent 10-story apartment building are an
excellent example of the grand, modern hotels built across the country
during this era. The success of these monumental hotels was fostered
by the combination of improved transportation, mass production of
inexpensive Ford motor cars, financial speculation based on an attitude
of unbounded prosperity, and newly enfranchised middle-class vacationers.
William Candler, son of Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler, was the local
financier behind the Biltmore project, purchasing the land for the
hotel in 1921 and incorporating the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel Company
in conjunction with Holland Ball Judkins and John McEntee Bowman of
the New York-based Biltmore hotel chain. Bowman developed several
Biltmore Hotels through the country during this time period, all bearing
the Biltmore name which was said to be drawn from the Vanderbilt family
estate of the same name in North Carolina. The Atlanta Biltmore was
designed by the New York firm of Schultze and Weaver, also responsible
for the Biltmore hotels in Los Angeles and Havana.
Biltmore Hotel and Biltmore
NPS photograph by Jody Cook
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 course of the opening weekend, 1,000 cars made the circular
sweep through the hotel's gardens and terrace drive. According to
one reporter, Biltmore hotels, like that in Atlanta, provided "the
background for a ceaseless pageant of human life, and even of human
romance, and architecturally it is at its best when it dramatizes
the people beneath its roof, when it makes the life and spirit .
within its walls transcend the routine and ordinary everyday trend
The Atlanta Biltmore, once known as the South's supreme 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.
It was the initial home of the Atlanta Historical Society and the
meeting place for many of the city's civic organizations. For more
than 30 years, WSB, the South's first radio station, broadcasted from
its studios within the hotel and the radio tower on the hotel roof
became a landmark on the city skyline. Facing increased competition
from Atlanta's modern downtown hotels, it was sold to a series of
owners beginning in the 1960s who were unable to revitalize the business.
In 1997, a local real estate investment firm, The Novare Group, purchased
the Biltmore property and renovated the hotel to offer a variety of
uses. In the spring of 1999, the former Biltmore Hotel reopened for
the first time in almost 20 years, and currently offers special event
space for business and social functions.
Historic Postcard of Biltmore
Hotel and Biltmore Apartments
Courtesy of Jody Cook
The Atlanta Biltmore Hotel and Biltmore Apartments are located
at 30 5th St., in NE Atlanta. A portion of the building houses condominiums.
For information on booking special events in the Biltmore Ballrooms
call 404-962-8700 or visit their website.