The Palm Court, circa 1907
From the moment the doors opened in 1907, The Plaza became an international icon of splendor and luxury. With a heritage rich in history and history-making events, The Plaza is unmatched. Long a part of Plaza tradition, the romantic and timeless Palm Court has served as a setting for scenes in many popular novels and films, most notably, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. During WWII, in the fear that light from the stained glass ceiling would be a beacon for a popssible bombing attack, the owners of the Plaza Hotel blacked out the ceiling's skylight.
The Palm Court -2005
In 1943, Conrad Hilton purchased the Plaza and soon afterward had the stained glass ceiling removed. It is possible that with the protective skylight darkened, the stained glass ceiling looked superfluous. Furthermore in the 1920's a large addition to the building's west side may have further compromised the available light to the room. It is also possible that the stained glass was in disrepair. In any case the stained glass and the enormous steel framing elements were completely removed in order to install new heating and ventilation systems. A new dropped ceiling was installed in place of the original soaring stained glass. Over the years various interior design programs were enacted in the room, culminating in Ivana Trump's redecorating scheme in the late 1980's that involved a lot of gold leaf.
The Terrace Room
Just beyond the French doors of the Plaza’s famed Palm Court lies the Terrace Room, a setting rich with its own history and charm. Meticulously restored to its original grandeur, the Terrace Room boasts some of the most impressive historical detailing within the Plaza. Figural paintings created in the spirit of the Italian Renaissance adorn the ceiling – dating back to 1921, they are freshly revealed by the polishing off of eighty years’ smoke and dirt. Also flawlessly restored are the original crystal chandeliers made by Charles Winston (brother of jeweler Harry), copies of those that hung in the Palace of Versailles. Striking yet elegant, the Terrace Room truly is a jewel within the Plaza Hotel.
THE PLAZA HOTEL
The Palm Court - Stained Glass Restoration - 2006-2007
When we explored the mechanical space above the Palm Court's dropped ceiling we were able to locate just 3 small shards of stained glass that had survived over the intervening years. Since the building's new development called for new meeting and banquet rooms to be installed in the location of the skylight, it was necessary to develop an artificial lighting program to light the new stained glass. An enormous domed plaster ceiling was designed to provide reflective light. Working from a handfull of black and white photographs, the 3 shards of remaining glass and some written accounts of the ceiling we redesigned the shape and pattern of the stained glass. The Chicago firm, Botti Studios, was contracted to build the stained glass.
The Palm Court today