Originally known as the Hotel Syracuse, this property was considered to be the largest and most prestigious hotel in Syracuse, NY for nearly 90 years. It was built from 1922-1924 by architect George B. Post and Sons and the doors officially opened to the public in August 1924.
It was a magnificent structure consisting of three towers connected to a base. It housed over 600 guest rooms that featured only one or two double beds and a small bathroom. The hotel also included retail stores at street level, an emergency hospital and tennis, squash and handball courts on the roof. It was truly a unique structure during its time.
The Hotel Syracuse
In addition to the guest rooms, the Hotel Syracuse had an elegant meeting room called the Persian Terrace and the beautiful Grand Ballroom, where many elegant events occurred. In the early 1980’s, the largest space, the Imperial Ballroom, was added to the hotel.
From the time it opened, The Hotel Syracuse was associated with grand wedding receptions, graduations, proms and other milestone events by so many Central New Yorkers. With its close proximity to the Oncenter Convention Center, it also served as a pre-eminent location for political and community events in Syracuse. The hotel was said to be such an integral part of the city’s economy that after hotel operations ended the catering business continued for an additional five years.
Hot Spot for Celebrities, Politicians & Public Figures
In its hey day, the Hotel Syracuse saw its share of visits from famous people. It was a hot spot for celebrities, politicians and important public figures. Some of the high profile guests that spent time at this downtown Syracuse hotel, included:
- President John F. Kennedy
- President Eisenhower
- Elvis Presley
- Bob Hope
- Charles Lindbergh
- John Lennon
Historic Works of Art
Perhaps one of the most fascinating pieces of history at this Syracuse hotel is the 40-foot by 6-foot mural, located behind the front desk, depicting 20 key events during the first 100 years of Syracuse’s history, including the discovery of salt springs near the shore of Onondaga Lake, the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy and the rescue of a slave named William “Jerry” Henry from the Syracuse Jail in 1851, just before the Civil War. This mural was painted for the hotel by Carl Roters, a professor at Syracuse University’s College of Fine Arts. It was completed in 1948, 24 years after the hotel opened. The mural covered a concrete wall that was above the reception desk. In the early 1980’s the mural was covered by mirrored panels to keep up with the popular glass and brass look that was emerging during that time.
In addition to the mural, Roters also completed four panels of work in the Cavalier Room. Other important artistic features were uncovered and preserved during the restoration process, including the hand painted detail of the ceiling in the lobby and the Persian Terrace and the original cloud mural on the ceiling of the Grand Ballroom. We are so pleased that these historic works of art continue to have a place in the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.
Nowhere in Syracuse will you find a more historical hotel than at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown Hotel. It may have a brand new look but the memories remain unchanged.
Historic photos are available today thanks to Onondaga Historical Association.