After writing about the Molee Building last week, I started thinking about a large structure that once sat directly east where the great interfaith park now sits. The building was the Hotel Henry Watterson on Muhammad Ali Boulevard (then Walnut Street) between Fourth & Fifth Streets, named after an early editor of the Courier-Journal.
Surviving less than 70 years, the ten-story Hotel Henry Watterson opened on April 29, 1912 and was demolished in 1981. Operations at the hotel had previously ceased in 1974. The hotel featured 250 rooms (each with private bath and free electric fans!), conference rooms, a Rathskellar, cafe and dining rooms. Mahogany was used throughout the building.
I’m not sure why the building was demolished, but I have heard stories about a fire that I can’t confirm. An old advertisement declared the building “Thoroughly modern and absolutely fireproof.” Anyone know the rest of the story about the hotel?
J.B. Pound, president of the hotel, personally contacted Henry Watterson who was on a Mediterranean cruise at the time to get naming rights for the new operation. Watterson was known to be loyal to the Confederate cause and the rise of a “New South” based on segregation white supremacy.