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Hotel Sir Walter, Raleigh, N.C.

For Flashback Friday this week, we feature this fine ‘linen’ post card of Raleigh’s famed Hotel Sir Walter. The card depicts a dramatic view of the hotel — I love that huge neon sign and the twin radio towers mounted on the roof. However, the message written on the back reveals a hint of peril.


Feb 8-47
To Joyce et als. [sic]
Arrived at 6pm after 2 straining [?] days. Snow — Icy 2nd snow storm to-day — and very cold, even in Raleigh N.C.
Car eating oil, and a nail puncturing one tire, otherwise we are both well, P.S.A.

Yikes! What an ordeal. I sure hope our correspondent and her husband made it to Florida safely.

The Hotel Sir Walter opened in 1924, and was Raleigh’s premier hotel for nearly four decades. During that time the well-appointed hostelry was locally known as the “third house of the legislature,” or the “second statehouse,” due to the fact that many legislators and lobbyists took up residence there when the General Assembly was in session.

We featured a postcard depicting the Sir Walter’s elegant lobby in an earlier Flashback Friday post. Nowadays, the former hotel functions as apartments for senior residents. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places 1978 and has been designated a Raleigh Historic Landmark.

Below is a photo of the Hotel Sir Walter taken about 1925. An ell-addition in 1928 enlarged the hotel by 50 rooms, as can be seen in the postcard view.

North Carolina State Archives photo

The classically-styled building was designed by Raleigh architect James A. Salter. Salter later designed several homes in the new suburban development  Longview Gardens in 1939-1940. Among these were the neo-Colonial revival home of North Carolina’s long-time secretary of state Thad Eure (2345 New Bern Ave), and the architect’s own Norman Revival home at the corner of New Bern Ave. and N. King Charles Rd. Sadly, Salter and his family would never occupy the house, as he was killed in an automobile accident in downtown Raleigh in December 1939.

Want to see the inside of the Hotel Sir Walter? Here are a few photos dating from the 1930s which showcase some of its stylish interiors.

Hotel guests entered into the luxurious lobby.

North Carolina State Archives photo

Here is one of the elegant, yet gracious, dining rooms.

North Carolina State Archives photo

Even the meeting rooms were on a sumptuous level.

North Carolina State Archives photo

The photo below was taken about 1929 and clearly shows the 1928 addition. This vantage point is similar to that of our postcard view. Here you can see the buildings which once clustered around the intersection of Fayetteville and Davie Streets. Extra points if you can identify that ruined building in the foreground.

North Carolina State Archives photo

Our featured postcard this week was published by Tichnor Brothers, Inc. of Cambridge, MA.

Tichnor Brothers, Inc. (1912-1987)
160 N. Washington Street, Boston and Cambridge, MA

A major publisher and printer of a wide variety of postcard types. Their view-cards were produced on a national level. They also produced a black & white series on the [New England] hurricane of 1938 in line block halftone.

Their photochromes went under the trade name Lusterchrome. They also produced an early Tichnor Gloss series in offset lithography that was so heavily retouched they floated somewhere between being artist drawn and being a photograph. The company was sold in 1987 to Paper Majic.

“Flashback Friday” is a weekly feature of Goodnight, Raleigh! in which we showcase vintage postcards depicting our historic capital city. We hope you enjoy this week end treat!

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