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Chapter 18 - Jefferson Hotel

When Jimmy turned onto Cary Street, in the distance they could see the twin Italian clock towers of Richmond’s grand hotel, the Jefferson.

 

The hotel was constructed in the 1890s by Lewis Ginter, the richest man in Virginia at the time.

 

Designed by Carrère and Hastings, the same architectural firm that created the New York Public Library, the Jefferson Hotel was considered one of the country’s best examples of Beaux Arts eclectic architecture.

 

With Raleigh’s direction, Jimmy parked the car on the street beside the five-star hotel. They entered the establishment from Main Street,

 

tramping into the Rotunda, an opulent and misnamed rectangular lobby with a soaring ceiling.

 

A stained-glass skylight hovered in the center, the size of a small swimming pool, illuminating the interior.

 

Around the perimeter, stout, stacked pairs of Corinthian columns of concrete and plaster, with a brown marble faux finish, and fruited and flowered adornment, supported the mezzanine and the roof.

 

On the left side of the majestic space, Hark sat in T.J.’s Lounge, dressed in a dark suit and a red bow tie.

 

He spotted the reenactors proceeding to the Grand Staircase.

 

At the top of the stairs, the reenactors entered the Palm Court Lobby,

 

housing a life-sized marble statue of Thomas Jefferson.

 

The statue stood underneath a circular skylight of stained glass. The disk formed a dazzling blue-and-white halo above the head of the founding father.

 

Through most of the first half of the twentieth century, alligators lived in marbled fountains beside the Jefferson statue. The inside fountains were now gone, and the only alligators left were in the form of a few bronze sculptures in and around the hotel.

 

From their vantage point, the reenactors could see through the windows in the doors facing Adams Street and spotted Sterling, pulling up in his Jaguar into the circular drive.

 

One of the men peered through the glare of the
glass doors and saw the reenactors.

 

The reenactors dashed down the Grand Staircase on the double-quick, with Raleigh clanging his sword on every other step.

 

A bewildered Hezekiah stumbled out a side exit with the man, away from all the excitement.

 

Hark followed the rest of the reenactors who had made it out the door.

 

Ballard watched the whole thing from the mezzanine.

 

Lying on his back, Gordon opened his eyes and began making out the gold-leaf coconut palm fronds on the ceiling.

The Jefferson Hotel