With a long history as an industrial manufacturing hub, the U.S. Midwest also is home to some of the nation’s finest hotels. But just as the fortunes of the region’s business barons have risen and fallen over the decades, so have many of its longest-standing hotels. Some of the Midwest’s most revered, historic hotels narrowly escaped fires, the Great Depression and the wrecking ball, but today, they are better than ever thanks to a new generation of forward-thinking preservationists. Here are 10 amazing historic hotels in the Midwest that are still open for business, and the stories behind them.
10. Palmer House Hilton -Chicago, IL
The iconic Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago got off to a most inauspicious start when the elegant hotel feel victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 only 13 days after its grand opening. But, business magnate and owner Potter Palmer quickly rebuilt the 1,641-room hotel which opened in late 1873 and has been a landmark ever since. Palmer’s wife Bertha decorated the hotel with opulent chandeliers, paintings and other art inspired by her French heritage including a majestic ceiling fresco by painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The decadent hotel has hosted everyone from Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde to U.S. presidents, and top entertainers such as Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald performed in its Golden Empire Room. A $170 million renovation has ensured the Palmer House’s place among the top hotels to be found anywhere. Afternoon tea in the lobby is not to be missed.