The Dunhill Hotel

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Discover The Dunhill Hotel, which is located conveniently located just steps from the diverse offerings of downtown Charlotte.

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The Dunhill Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1991, dates back to 1929.

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The Dunhill Hotel by PBS North Carolina

Learn how The Dunhill Hotel has maintained its wonderful historical character over the years.

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A member of Historic Hotels of America since 1991, The Dunhill Hotel first opened right at the height of the Roaring Twenties. Nevertheless, the land that currently hosts The Dunhill Hotel—originally known as the “Mayfair Manor”—was originally purchased by J.P. Matheson and C.N. Peeler for $250,000 in 1926. Founders of the Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, Doctors Matheson and Peeler hoped that the prospective hotel would essentially serve as one of the most exclusive holiday destinations in all of North Carolina. The location the two doctors chose was highly envied throughout Charlotte due to its proximity to the city square and its luxurious storefronts. Two years later, Matheson hired architect Louis Asbury Sr. to begin work on the hotel. As Asbury began his work on the ten-story hotel—with its refined architecture and neoclassical embellishments—he envisioned that it would stand boldly against the Charlotte skyline. Using a wonderful blend of Neoclassical architectural influences, Asbury created a stunning structure that reflected the best in modern luxury. After several months of construction, the structured debuted as the “Mayfair Manor” on November 15, 1929. The new, gorgeous hotel impressed all who stepped inside. Many locals even accounted among first patrons, as half of the original 100 guestrooms were designated as permanent residences! And despite the ever-increasing harmful economic pressures of the ongoing Great Depression, the Mayfair Manor was nonetheless celebrated in local papers as a triumph of architecture and ingenuity.

Nevertheless, the hotel was subsequently acquired by the Mayfair Realty Corporation following Dr. Matheson’s death in 1937. Then, in 1959, the built was sold again, this time to Dwight L. Phillips. Phillips immediately began a series of renovations and improvements to the tune of $225,000! But a year later, another ownership group acquired the Mayfair Manor and renamed it as the “James Lee Motor Inn.” Unfortunately, the hotel frequently changed hands numerous times over the next two decades, beginning a series of transactions that were not notable to the business. Perhaps the lowest point for the hotel was when one proprietor, A.B. Wilkins, announced his intentions to even transform it into a series of condominiums. But in 1987, Dunhill Hotel Associates purchased the ailing structure and spent nearly $6 million thoroughly renovating of both the building and surrounding shops. The hotel then reopened to great acclaim a year later as “The Dunhill Hotel,” along with its restaurant, “Thistle.” Since then, the Dunhill Hotel Group and the Summit Hospitality Group have owned and managed the building, making steady progress toward restoring it back to its former glory. Though The Dunhill Hotel has had many names, owners, and management concepts throughout its considerable history, it has always managed to retain a sense of “Old World” style. This feeling of comfort and warmth remains alive to this very day, making The Dunhill Hotel one of the best vacation hotspots in the entire American South.

  • About the Location +

    In the mid-18th century, the family of Thomas Spratt constructed a rustic house in the vicinity of two well-traveled Native American trade routes that cut across western North Carolina. Then, Thomas Polk—a great-uncle of future U.S. President James K. Polk—decided to construct his own dwelling where the two pathways intersected. Over time, more pioneers immigrated westward, arriving across the ocean from places like the British Isles and the Holy Roman Empire. Local town planners subsequently began establishing additional street grids around the Polk family residence to help organize the rapid settlement of the area. They even went as far as to make the portions of the two Indian roads the main thoroughfares through town, which they called “Trade Street” and “Tryon Street,” respectively. Eventually, enough people had moved into the community that the North Carolinian government elevated the village to the status of an official town. And thanks to the efforts by Thomas Polk, the locals opted to call their town “Charlotte” after King George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte. Furthermore, Charlotte also became the county seat for the newly formed Mecklenburg County—also named in honor of Queen Charlotte—with town administrators overseeing the construction of the county courthouse within the public square. Nevertheless, Charlotte very much remained a remote wilderness community for some time thereafter, despite the great foot traffic that passed through the town via its major roadways. Indeed, this isolation gradually fomented strong patriotic sentiments among the residents, prompting them to support independence in the American Revolutionary War. Indeed, British General Lord Charles Cornwallis even referred to Charlotte as a “hornet’s nest of rebellion” when the locals forced his loyalist army to flee during the conflict. Oral tradition also stipulates local leaders created a text called the “Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence,” which was one of the first documents demanding cessation immediate separate from the United Kingdom.

    Charlotte began to grow into a major city in the decades following American Revolution. In 1799, a young boy named Conrad Reed discovered a large, beautiful rock that his family wound up using as a doorstop. But a jeweler then managed to investigate the stone for himself, determining that it was constituted of authentic gold. A mass migration of miners quickly descended onto Charlotte, sparking what some contemporary scholars consider to be America’s first gold rush. Many prospectors soon found countless veins of gold around Charlotte, which eventually inspired former President Andrew Jackson to found a branch of the U.S. mint in the town. Charlotte’s economic growth was further encouraged with the arrival of the railroads by the middle of the 19th century. Many trains quickly began operating out of the city, making it one of the most important railway hubs in the American South. Railroad activity continued to play a central role in Charlotte’s continuous development, especially as the local cotton trade emerged in prominence after the American Civil War. Numerous cotton mills rapidly dotted the city’s landscape, giving it an industrial character that few other southern communities featured at the time. Amazingly, this economic prosperity lasted well into the 20th century, even as events like the Great Depression wreaked havoc on the national economy. Other businesses soon appeared throughout Charlotte, too, like automobile manufacturing, tobacco wholesaling, and radio construction. But the development of the city’s regional banking industry soon became the most dominant. In just a span of 50 years, Charlotte was soon the home for such renowned financial institutions like Bank of America. Today, Charlotte remains one of the most vibrant cities in the whole South, fueled by a dynamic and inclusive community that attracts people from all over the country. It is also home to many outstanding cultural heritage attractions, too, including the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Mint Museum, and the NASCAR Hall of Fame.


  • About the Architecture +

    The Dunhill Hotel features a wonderful blend of Classical Revival-style architecture. Also known as “Neoclassical,” Classic Revival design aesthetics are among the most common architectural forms seen throughout the United States. This wonderful architectural style first became popularized at the World’s Columbian Exposition, which was held in Chicago in 1893. Many of the exhibits displayed structures exhibits architectural motifs from ancient societies like Rome and Greece. As with the equally popular Colonial Revival style of the same period, Classical Revival architect found an audience for its more formal nature. It specifically relied on stylistic design elements that incorporated such structural components like the symmetrical placement of doors and windows, as well as a front porch crowned with a classical pediment. Architects would also install a rounded front portico that possessed a balustraded flat roof. Pilasters and other sculptured ornamentations proliferated throughout the façade of the building, as well. Perhaps the most striking feature of buildings designed with Classical Revival-style architecture were massive columns that displayed some combination of Corinthian, Doric, or Ionic capitals. With its Greco-Roman temple-like form, Classical Revival-style architecture was considered most appropriate for municipal buildings like courthouses, libraries, and schools. Yet, the form found its way into more commercial uses over time, such as banks, department stores, and of course, hotels. The celebrated architectural firm McKim, Meade and White produced some of the most noteworthy buildings that utilized Classical Revival architecture, with most of their work appearing during the early 20th century. Examples of their portfolio can be found throughout many of American’s major cities, including Philadelphia and New York City. They were later joined by many other prominent architects, including the creators of The Dunhill Hotel—J.P. Matheson and C.N. Peeler


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