The Jefferson Hotel opened in 1895 and was a leading hotel in Richmond for several decades. Major Lewis Ginter, who made his fortune in the tobacco business, built the Jefferson. It combined beaux arts and renaissance revival architectural styles. In the lobby was a statue of the hotel’s namesake, Thomas Jefferson. By the 1970s, the hotel was down on its heels and closed in the early 1980s. The Jefferson was beautifully restored and reopened in the late 1980s. It is once again a premier hotel. A widely circulated Richmond urban legend about the Jefferson Hotel is that the lobby staircase was the model for the one in Scarlett O’Hara’s Atlanta mansion in the 1939 movie, Gone With The Wind. David Niven in his autobiography, The Moon’s a Balloon, stopped at the Jefferson in the 1930s, and to his surprise, he saw alligators swimming in a pool near the registration desk. The last alligator died in the 1940s.
Richmond Hotels Corporation operated four hotels in the center of Richmond. They were Hotel Richmond and Murphy’s Hotel adjacent to Capitol Square, the John Marshall, and the William Byrd.
Murphy’s Hotel has the longest history. At the corner of Eight Street and Broad Street, John Murphy, an Irish immigrant and Confederate veteran, erected a hotel in 1872. In 1913, he replaced it with a modern thirteen story hotel. Richmond Hotels Incorporated took control of the hotel in 1939 and renamed it the Hotel King Carter in 1949. Robert Carter (1664 – 1732), “King Carter,” was one of the wealthiest men in the thirteen colonies, making his fortune as a tobacco planter and merchant. In the late 1960s, the hotel was sold to the Commonwealth of Virginia to house state offices. By the 2000s, the building had deteriorated and was torn down in 2007.
Daniel P. Hennelly is a mystery and science fiction writer from Norfolk, Virginia. A retired university administrator, he has collected postcards since his 1960s boyhood. He specializes in vintage United States postcards. Also, he has an extensive collection of foreign cards he started after receiving a gift from a 1930s honeymoon tour in Europe.