It is said that every Rhode Islander visits the Biltmore Hotel at least once. Opened in June of 1922, the Biltmore immediately became a significant hub for social activity in downtown Providence, a legacy that continues today. Its elegant halls have hosted whist clubs, holiday parties, and debutante balls. In its early days the Biltmore also sought creative ways to bring fresh produce and dairy to its tables in the middle of a bustling city. A rooftop garden where fresh flowers and vegetables were grown was just the trick! Wanting more, the first manager of the Biltmore, L.D. Wallick, took it further and demanded fauna as well. Pens for chickens and ducks were constructed on the roof. Distraught, the ducks flew south in 1927 and never returned.
Ever accommodating to its guests, the Biltmore’s hospitality knew no bounds. In the 1940s one of the ballrooms had a pool installed for swimmer Esther Williams. Later, the same pool was made into an ice skating rink for Olympic skater Sonja Henie. Unfortunately, the golden era couldn’t last and the Biltmore experienced a financial slump in the 1970s. It’s doors closed in 1975. Wanting to save the only hotel in downtown Providence, civic leaders and the Providence Journal formed a partnership to save the old hotel, ushering in a period of revitalization for downtown. It was restored and reopened in 1979, ensuring an elegant experience for native Rhode Islanders and visitors alike.