Jacques Kelly: Hotel Revival's name reflects owners' goals, and the mood of Mount Vernon

The doorway at Mount Vernon’s 101 W. Monument St. is inlaid in brass and clearly states: Hotel Revival.

It’s a new name, and a thoroughly new take for a quiet neighborhood landmark that has undergone a two-year transformation into a 107-room boutique-style hotel.

It’s good to see a familiar component of the Mount Vernon neighborhood thoroughly refreshed. Hotel Revival opened last week, and visitors should prepare to be amazed at how this once-plain apartment-hotel built in 1929 has been outfitted and updated.

The lobby is papered with artist Cassandra C. Jones’ take on an 1850s Baltimore Album Quilt. This may be wallpaper, but it’s a brilliant reference to this traditional craft, now held in esteem as folk art. Other art pieces, as well as artist-made light fixtures and furnishings, fill the hotel.

Hotel Revival’s 14th floor restaurant, Topside, offers a spectacular view of the Washington Monument, rooftops and the church steeples we admire in old Baltimore. The view is fascinating, calming and a very different experience from Harbor East rooftop perches. The Revival’s view is all about history, magnificient architecture and the venerable city that unfolds before it.

The hotel occupies a site with a pedigree. Its location was once the residence of Mary Elizabeth Garrett, the daughter of Baltimore and Ohio Railroad baron John W. Garrett. She was his favorite child and often traveled with him on business trips as daughter-secretary.

She filled her home with art, including a knockout set of Tiffany Studio stained glass windows. In 1914, a year before she died, she loaned her place as the first exhibit space of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

She also gave part of her fortune to open the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine — with the stipulation that it admit women.

The market for 15-room homes in downtown Baltimore was not so strong during the period when the city’s big money was moving to suburban estates. In the late 1920s, her then-vacant home was razed.

In its place, at the southwest corner of Cathedral and Monument streets, a 14-story apartment-hotel went up in 1929. The old 101 W. Monument St. address was popular with working women who liked the convenience of walking to their jobs. There was a restaurant, which in the 1970s became Torremolinos, and maid service for tenants.

By the 1980s, those tenants had been evicted and the place transformed into a hotel, The Peabody Court. The roof was wrapped in glass and made into a fairly short-lived French restaurant. Peabody Court endured several ownership changes until it was acquired by Tracy Proietti, a Mount Vernon resident.

She liked the name Revival because it resonates with the neighborhood’s renewed good fortunes.

“We wanted to create the sense it was still an apartment building,” said Beth Brainard, the hotel’s general manager. “We think of it as a place where you might see the things that people have collected. Our rooms are personal. We don’t care if the Oriental carpets don’t exactly match the curtains.”

The aim was to make each room a little different than the next — and get as far away from a die-stamped national hotel chain as possible.

Of the 100 jobs at the hotel, nearly 80 percent were filled through a collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. The hotel also worked with Back on My Feet, a nonprofit that combats homelessness, to fill staffing positions.

Another aim is a total local experience. Brainard noted that Schamu Machowski + Patterson Architects, who designed the renovation, have their offices just north on Cathedral Street. The hotel graphic scheme is the work of Woodberry’s Younts Design at the Meadow Mill. The chef, Wilbur Cox, formerly served the Elkridge Club.

The local theme filters all the way down to the hotel’s liquid soap: It’s named Mount Royal — and is made on East Oliver Street near Green Mount Cemetery.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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