Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jefferson Hotel, A Snapshot in Time Book


Of the many blog posts I've written for Notes Along the Way, the following is the second most popular. (The most popular is the one I wrote about Joe Dubois from the TV show, "Medium" which after several years continues to have dozens of views each week.) The alligator story is in the Jefferson Hotel, A Snapshot in Time book, as well as the coffee table book, Hotels to Remember.

Alligators in the Jefferson Hotel Lobby

Bronze Alligator at Jefferson Hotel - MMSikes
 Years ago, guests at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia weren't greeted at entrance door by a bronze alligator as they are today. Instead, they got to meet the real thing!

It seems that when the hotel reopened following a 1901 fire that ruined about 60% of the structure, live alligators took up residence in the lobby next to the Thomas Jefferson statue. According to legend, guests who had brought alligators home from Florida as pets discovered they grew too big for bathtubs and would leave them at the hotel. Apparently it was the bellman's responsibility to remove the alligators from furniture when he came on duty early each morning.

Old Pompey, the last of the alligators, died in 1948. It is his statue that now greets guests! The hotel gift shop honors his memory by using the name "Gators" and selling a variety of little alligator creatures and cards.

Do you know of another hotel that once housed alligators or other wild creatures? A number of hotels I've visited in Florida and in the Caribbean keep parrots and other birds on the premises.

--Mary Montague Sikes


Billie Johnson said...

Monti...isn't it the Peabody in Memphis that has ducks?


Mary Montague Sikes said...

Yes. People often tell me that hotel should be in our book!

Amy Bennett said...

My hometown, El Paso, TX, used to have live alligators in their downtown plaza. Due to abuse and harassment by humans, they were removed to the zoo many years ago and now a statue of them adorns the plaza. I'd still like to know what gave anyone the idea that alligators in the plaza just screamed "real Wild West town" atmosphere!

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