Local News

Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel: Then and now

Posted August 30, 2008 9:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2008 10:08 a.m. EDT

— The Raleigh Marriott City Center is downtown’s latest hotel, but the opening reminds some of the city’s oldest surviving hotel building – the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel.

Built between 1923 and 1924, the hotel was a focal point for state political activity during the 1920s, according to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places Web site.

The building, located on Fayetteville Street, now houses apartments for senior citizens.

George Bradley, who lives at the Sir Walter Raleigh, remembers when the building was a hotel.

“I used to ride my bike up and down through here when it was a hotel,” Bradley said.

Like the Marriott, the hotel was designed to attract people and business to downtown.

“It was brought to Raleigh to try to increase traffic and try to get people to bring their conventions here to the Capital city,” Raleigh City Museum curator Ladye Jane Vickers said.

The hotel opened in January 1924 and was the largest building in the south portion of the business district, according to the National Park Service.

“It was always crowded,” Bradley said.

The Great Depression forced the building’s lessees into bankruptcy in 1934. The building was leased to North State Hotel Company and completely renovated in 1938.

The hotel’s importance started to fade in the 1960s. A decade later the building was converted into apartments for seniors.

During the 1920s a night at the Sir Walter Raleigh was $3.50. A night at the new Marriott downtown is $249.

“We certainly hope that the Marriott will do for downtown what the Sir Walter Raleigh did years ago. It would be a very attractive place. People will come here, enjoy it and liven up our city,” Mayor Charles Meeker said.