May 25, 2018

The Redmont Hotel

Birmingham, Alabama

The Redmont Hotel in Birmingham, Alabama is a 13-story historic hotel built in 1925. It is still in operation as a hotel, and has been restored and modernized within the historic context. The exterior appearance of the hotel is almost unchanged from the original. The Redmont Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  We totally had a blast at this hotel when we stayed there, the staff, and especially the bellhop, were fantastic! 

Photos are from our visit October 25-27, 2007.

The Redmont Exterior

Welcome to the Redmont Hotel! This 13 story brick & terra-cotta faced hotel was opened May 1, 1925 and is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue North and Richard Arrington Junior Boulevard North (how's that for a long street name?) The building architect was G Lloyd Preacher and the builder was Smallman & Brice Company. Birmingham was originally a mining town, the Redmont name refers to Red Mountain, where many of the mines were located. Note the metal balcony on the left that serves as a canopy over the front doors.
 
The exterior of the hotel has been restored to (almost) it's original condition. This is the front side. Did you notice that the hotel has 13 floors? Many hotels skip the 13th floor due to superstitions regarding the number 13, so it is surprising they built the hotel with 13 floors! Between the 11th and 12th floors is a strip of decorative terra cotta molding called a stringcourse. The purpose of it is to break up the appearance of the side of the building so it is not overly monotonous. If you look close you will also notice a simpler stringcourse between the 3rd and 4th floors. At one time the 12th floor windows above the stringcourse had decorative wrought iron false balconies on them, they have been removed. The black boxes just above the stringcourse in the photo are lights.

The Redmont Hotel exterior viewed from the corner. From this view you can see the 1st and 2nd floors have a decorative terra cotta facing. From the 3rd floor up construction is of light brown brick with terra cotta accents. The cornice (horizontal decorative trim that protrudes out from the very top of the walls) on this side is a restoration.

 
From here you can see one of the large rooftop neon signs. Notice the back side of the hotel makes extensive use of red brick, which was likely less expensive than the brown which is used for decorative strips. Formerly this hotel was operated under the Crown Plaza brand, if you look closely you can see the outline of the former Crown Plaza sign on the right side.

The Redmont Lobby and Public Spaces

 
 The bright red paint at the front desk draws your attention to it as you step in the door. The original marble floor was restored in 1983. The Redmont originally had 225 rooms and was an upscale hotel built during a period of rapid expansion for the City of Birmingham.

 This massive chandelier dominates the lobby.
 
 Another view of the chandelier, looking down from the mezzanine level.


 I know, it looks like yet another photo of the chandelier, but I wanted to show the main marble staircase up to the mezzanine level.

 
 The lobby sitting area with grand piano. The windows are facing 5th Avenue North, the front door is to the right in this photo, the lounge is to the left.

 This is another view of the lobby, looking past the front doors toward the lounge. The polished brass doors of the elevators can be seen at middle left, look past the cups on the valet's podium.

The Redmont is a favorite for haunt for ASU fans. During our visit the hotel was packed with fans in town for a home game. They apparently stay frequently, the staff recognizes many, and greeted them by name. One afternoon I was standing in the lobby, which was packed with ASU fans catching up on old times. One lady walked up to one of the valets and began talking with him. She obviously recognized him and apparently thought he was an old ASU pal. After a small amount of chit-chat she confessed to him that she remembered him, but couldn't remember his name. He smiled and said "Mam, I work here."
 
Another look at the lobby and front desk. I shot many of these photos early in the morning when the lobby was empty. If you look close you can see that the desk clerk is checking up on me, making sure I'm not up to no good.

 The breakfast room on the mezzanine level was originally a private reception room. A metal balcony extends over the sidewalk from this room, you can see it if you go back to the first photo in the tour.
 
 Notice the original mail chute between the elevator doors, while no longer used, has been left in place.
 
 The rooftop penthouse was added to the hotel in 1947, by owner Clifford Stiles who added it to house his family. The penthouse atrium in this photo appears to be a more recent addition. When built, the penthouse had a grass lawn installed on the hotel roof around it which was frequently utilized for fancy parties! Part of the penthouse is now used as an exercise room, and affords great views of downtown Birmingham.

 Just a photo of something off the beaten track. This is one of the fire escape stairwells. A lot of "ladies of the night" likely made the trek up and down these back stairs. More on that later!

 The view of Birmingham from the roof of the Redmont Hotel. The red brick building in the lower center is the other major historic hotel in downtown Birmingham, The Tutwiler Hotel. There was a full moon when we visited!

 These custom made decorative lights with RH lettering (for Redmont Hotel) are found in the upper floor hallways. In the 1960's the Redmont fell on hard times and is said to have functioned more or less as a brothel.

The ghost of Hank Williams. (Faked!)

Like all old hotels, the Redmont has a ghost story connected to it. The Redmont is said to be haunted by the ghost of famous singer Hank Williams. while on tour in 1952, Hank Williams stayed in the hotel's penthouse. It turned out to be the last night of his life, he was killed the next day in a car accident. Since then there have been many reported sightings of his ghost in the hotel. In addition the ghost of a former owner of the hotel, Clifford Stiles is said to haunt the hotel. (No, this is not a real ghost photo, its a fake.)

Redmont Guest Rooms


The guest rooms are very nice and completely updated, this is a King room.  (Hotels update rooms often so this may not be the current room appearance.) Like most older hotels the original rooms were small by today's standards. Remodeling of the Redmont Hotel in 1983 created larger rooms by relocating walls to remove every other room. You can see how they did this by examining this room's window layout. Originally each room had one set of large windows like the one on the right, which actually is two side-by-side windows in a single frame. As you can see in the photo, moving the wall between this room and the adjacent one has resulted in a half window in the left corner of the room. The original hotel rooms had advanced features for the times, each had a private bath, chilled water cooling system, and an electric ceiling fan.

 The Redmont was the first hotel in Birmingham to have private baths in all the rooms. Like the rooms, the bathrooms are completely modern.

Okay, I almost always include at least one photo of a behind the scenes or non-public spot that guests aren't supposed to see.  This is the roof maintenance access stairway.  I love the blocked in former window.  Someone changed their mind.


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