The Palmer House Hilton, one of Chicago’s most famous historic hotels, has embarked on a major restoration of its iconic French-inspired lobby. The work will focus on the room’s 21 ceiling murals from Art Deco painter Louis Pierre Rigal and its 1.25-ton, 24-karat gold winged candelabras designed by Tiffany & Co.
The restoration is led by husband and wife team Anthony and Mata Kartsonas of Historic Surfaces, whose past credits include work on the U.S. Capitol building, Clara and Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate in Detroit, and Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.
While the room was already a spectacle to behold, the restoration promises to make the Palmer House lobby all the more special. Rigal’s Grecian murals were last restored in 1995, according to a Chicago Tribune report published at the time. The current job is expected to take roughly one month to complete.
The French-inspired aesthetic of the lobby can trace its roots back to Bertha Palmer, who befriended French painter Claude Monet and amassed an impressive amount of impressionist art. The bulk of Bertha’s collection can now be seen at the nearby Art Institute of Chicago.
For all of its history, the famous hotel standing at the southeast corner of State and Monroe is actually the city’s third Palmer House. The original was destroyed in the 1871 Chicago Fire, and its seven-story replacement was later supplanted in the 1920s by the current 25-story building.
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