The Alcazar Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio

The Alcazar Hotel, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
The Alcazar Hotel, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

This Spanish Renaissance inn situated in the suburban community of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, shares both the name and the striking architectural styling of the original Alcazar Hotel erected in 1887 by Florida development pioneer Henry M. Flagler in what would eventually become downtown St. Augustine.

That original hotel was designed by the architects Carrére and Hastings, and included what were then the world’s largest indoor swimming pool, sulfur baths, steam room, massage parlor and gymnasium. The facility became a winter resort serving the affluent East Coast traveler for many a decade, all the way through to its closing in 1932. More than ten years thereafter, it was acquired by Otto C. Lightner, a Chicago publisher. He soon made use of the hotel to house his extensive and well-regarded collection of Victoriana. He eventually donated the renamed Lightner Museum to the city of St. Augustine.

The decidedly more modest Cleveland Heights Alcazar Hotel was designed and constructed by the team of Harry T. Jeffrey, Kent Smith and George Hale, in a Spanish/Moorish style. Opening in 1923, the Hotel quickly became a chic Cleveland address. Its five-story pentagonal ‘fortress’ surrounded a lush interior courtyard, replete with large central fountain, extensive tilework and bounteous landscaping. Early residents of the Hotel included Cole Porter, Johnny Weissmuller and Bob Hope.

For much of the post-World War II era, the hotel’s dancing and unparalleled dining attracted monied Clevelanders, travelers and star-gazers alike. But by the arrival of the tumultuous 1960s, increased suburbanization, white flight, and the spreading growth of the nearby Case Western Reserve University campus and area hospitals all served to undercut the Alcazar’s exclusivity and appeal to its former high-end customers. Facing decline, the hotel was purchased in 1963 by a group of Christian Scientists aiming to provide elegant senior living to the faithful.

For the next four decades, The Alcazar Hotel served as a Senior Independent Living Residence. By 2004, the facilities hotel function was relinquished. Today, The Alcazar operates primarily as a senior residential facility, while also offering limited bed & breakfast accommodations and some corporate housing. The Alcazar Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and still hosts many weddings, parties, concerts and other special events in its grand function rooms.

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