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The Rathskeller, Seelbach Hotel
The Rathskeller in the Seelbach Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky
The 1907 addition to The Seelbach in Louisville, Kentucky, incorporated a German rathskeller created of Rookwood Pottery designed in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio, by workers hired from the Art Academy. Rookwood Pottery was founded by Maria Longworth Nichols (later Mrs. Bellamy Storer Jr.) in 1880.
According to "The Seelbach Hotel, A History of Louisville Tradition" by J. Theriot in August, 1988, "In producing this pricey sort of pottery, decorations have been drawn by hand on the clay ahead of firing, making the design and style part of the ware. Soon after baking, a variety of glazes have been added in subsequent firings. The floors, columns and walls of the eighty-foot square space have been produced of the pottery. The ceiling is fine-tooled leather."
To complement the area, The Seelbach Realty Company’s president, Charles C. Vogt, presented the hotel with a $ten,000 present, a Rookwood-faced clock. Such a collection of Rookwood was extremely rare and, these days, The Rathskeller is one of only two surviving ensembles of this art kind.
The Rathskeller (ratskellar, a German word meaning restaurant in the town-hall cellar) was constructed in Bavarian tradition. The Seelbach’s Rathskeller menu provides this description: "As a matter of fact the Rathskeller in every single essential, artistic detail, is a reproduction of the underground drinking and council hall of one particular of the popular castles on the Rhine."
The graceful arches supported by noble columns give a cathedral-like impact. The archway pillars are encircled with Rookwood pelican frescoes, a symbol of excellent luck, and the ceiling above the bar is covered with hand-painted 24K gold leaf leather detailing the signs of the zodiac.
The Rathskeller achieved instant reputation. The July 1912 edition of Hotel Monthly describes it as obtaining a "seating capacity from 300 to 400." Not only was it a stunning nightspot, conveniently located for the soon after-theater crowds, but it was also one of the very first air-conditioned rooms ever constructed. The Seelbachs vowed to maintain the space at least 10 degrees cooler than the outside summer temperatures. To do so essential 40 tons of steam-produced refrigeration every single 24 hours.
When the hotel was sold to Abraham Liebling, a single of the first improvements was for the managers to lease a corner of the 1st floor to Walgreen Drugs. The Seelbach welcomed this renovation. Because prohibition and the nationwide ban on alcohol sales, the initial floor bar had closed and The Rathskeller was little a lot more than an extension of a restaurant. With the drug shop on the main floor, the restaurant merely found a home downstairs in the basement. Numerous years later soon after prohibition ended, management moved the restaurant back up to the renovated initial floor and closed The Rathskeller for in depth modifications. In April 1934, it re-opened with a 56-foot bar staffed by six bartenders. With these renovations, the basement bar moved into a new era. Rather of simply offering a stopping spot for late-night theater patrons, The Rathskeller would now offer its personal musical and dramatic entertainment featuring neighborhood bands and occasional 1st-run theater.
When Walgreen’s lease expired in 1941, management opted to open a new nightclub, tentatively called The Seelbach Café-Bar. The club took away from The Rathskeller and in 1945, when the Legionaries provided to rent the basement, like The Rathskeller, for a members-only club, the managers agreed. These days, The Seelbach’s most treasured heirloom, The Rathskeller, with its dramatic style, lighting, and hand-carved architectural particulars, is once more operated by The Seelbach and is offered for private events.
The RathskellerThe Rathskeller is the only surviving space in the planet totally encrusted in Rookwood pottery. Rookwood pelicans pervade the area, and despite the fact that the Hotel’s tourist info likes to cheerfully note that the pelicans are there “for good luck,” it is also correct that the pelican is regarded in some occult mythologies as a symbol of resurrecting one’s youngsters right after having killed them oneself, by anointing them with one’s own blood. The pelican has also lengthy been synonymous with the Phoenix (the mythological bird of occult initiation, wherein 1 is reborn into a new awareness or gnosis) and with Henet (a pelican goddess from pyramid-era Egypt, who seems on walls of ancient tombs and in royal funerary texts).
The Seelbach Hotel was the dream of two German immigrants, and more than the past century it has gained the reputation of a single of the finest hotels in the region.
"They opened the doors in 1905, the original cost was about $990,000 dollars," says Larry Johnson, who is now the lobby concierge at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel.
"The poker area had the distinction of becoming where Al Capone came to play poker," Johnson says. "He possibly would have stopped right here on his way back to Chicago from becoming in eastern Kentucky, where he picked up his moonshine." It was the era of Prohibition and Al Capone played it protected at the hotel, constantly facing a mirror in the poker space to preserve an eye on his competitors … and on his back. And Johnson says there were "lookouts" all through the hotel. "Whenever the police came into the lobby, somebody would step on the button and the doors going into the poker space would automatically close and he would know to get out."
And secret passageways — now sealed up — allowed just that. "One of the doors went out and down to the street, and the other door went downstairs to the tunnels underneath the hotel. They would go down into the tunnels and he could go anyplace from a block to a mile away kind the hotel without having becoming observed."
Louisville police never caught up with Capone, whether or not he was escaping a card game or from one more space he favored: the Rathskeller. Now a backdrop for corporate events and other parties, Johnson says the Rathskeller was a "big night club back in the 20s and 30s, it was a USO in Globe War I and Globe War II. Throughout Prohibition, it was a dinner club."
Capone wasn’t the only nicely-known character to frequent the Seelbach. An Army captain stationed at Camp Taylor also gained really a reputation at the hotel. F. Scott Fitzgerald, he frequented the bar and supposedly he was kicked out on several occasions for becoming a booze hound and becoming a tiny rowdy," Johnson says. In spite of his brushes with the law, Fitzgerald loved the opulent hotel. So a lot so he wrote about it years later in the Excellent Gatsby.
By elycefeliz on 2012-03-11 15:27:39