Commissioned by 250 Nashvillians in 1908, The Hotel Hermitage (named after Andrew Jackson's Hermitage estate) opened its doors on Saturday, Sept. 17, 1910. The new hotel, which would flip flop its name in the 1940s, advertised its rooms as "fireproof, noiseproof, and dustproof, $2.00 and up." Each of the 250 rooms provided hot and cold circulating water, which was distilled to avoid typhoid. Each room had a private bath, telephone and electric fan, and a device to indicate the arrival of mail. When the hotel opened, there was a convention hall on the top floor that seated 200 people.
Only the finest materials were used: Italian sienna marble in the entrance; wall panels of Russian walnut; a cut, stained glass ceiling in the vaulted lobby; Persian rugs; and massive, overstuffed furniture. Downstairs, adjoining the Oak Bar, was the Grille Room (now The Capitol Grille), which was originally planned as a rathskellar. The room was built by craftsmen imported from Germany and emerged as a private club for men only.
As Nashville's first million-dollar hotel, it was the preferred gathering place for the city's socialites. It was the national platform for both pro- and anti-suffrage forces, and a national radio program originated from its famous dining room.
The Hermitage Hotel was a symbol of Nashville's emergence as a major Southern city. For its first 50 years, it flourished in the heart of a city that repeatedly earned its rightful place in the nation's history books. The hotel became a social center for Nashville and a frequent stop for some of the nation's most prominent figures, from presidents and war heroes to actresses and gangsters. From the early 20th century through the '30s and '40s, "Meet me at The Hermitage" could have been deemed the city's slogan.
Sadly, as Nashville's downtown business district began to decline in the 1960s, so did The Hermitage Hotel. The mid-1970s marked the beginning of a dismal period in the hotel's history, as the grand structure fell into disrepair and closed its doors in 1977. It had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places only two years earlier. Its closing marked the sad end to an era of elegance. During the four years it was closed, the hotel was almost was turned into an office complex, but after the financing for that project fell through, the hotel was renovated and reopened in 1981.
The hotel changed hands several times in the 80s and 90s. Then, in June 2000, Historic Hotels of Nashville, LLC., purchased The Hermitage Hotel and completed a $17 million renovation of the guest rooms and public areas. The hotel reopened on Valentine's Day 2003, and then received the prestigious American Automobile Association Five-Diamond rating - less than nine months later.