Monday, April 23, 2018

NC: The Cardinal Hotel Gives a Second Life to an Iconic Winston-Salem Building

Via Sister Anne

The Cardinal Hotel in Downtown Winston-Salem
The waiting area for the elevators looks the same as it did in the building’s heyday, full of brass and marble.

A new hotel in the Art Deco splendor of the old R.J. Reynolds headquarters hoped to attract travelers from far and wide. Nobody expected guests to come from just across town.

Fifty people were invited to the grand opening of a new hotel in Winston-Salem in 2016. Two hundred showed up, most just wanting a look inside. One of them was Dr. Lou Gottlieb, who, decades before, had his ophthalmology office on the 12th floor of the high-rise. Back then, a patient coming in for a new set of glasses would sometimes push the wrong button in the elevator and be spit out into the office of the chairman of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.

The Reynolds Building, now home to The Cardinal Hotel, was once the company’s headquarters. It’s an Art Deco palace of Indiana limestone, polished brass, and corporate intrigue. No expense was spared. One year, the company tore up the sidewalk and installed heating coils underneath because a snowstorm had made the concrete slick. The building had its own small army of plumbers, carpenters, and electricians, as well as a tight security force. After Dr. Gottlieb noticed a pair of glasses missing from a display case, the company posted a guard in his office 24 hours a day for a month. They nabbed the thief: a repairman who’d pocketed some specs during his monthly after-hours visit.

More @ Our State

The Pickens Plot

When the Pacific phase of World War Two began in December of 1941, Great Britain’s main bastion of power in Southeast Asia was its eighty-five thousand man army behind the fortifications at Singapore, the so-called Gibraltar of the Pacific. The problem was, however, that all the island’s massive protective firepower faced the Straits of Singapore rather than the Malay Peninsula through which General Yamashita’s thirty-six thousand Japanese troops were rapidly advancing toward the island fortress. Within a week, the Japanese Army poured through Singapore’s unprotected rear and captured or killed the entire garrison.

Eight decades prior to that, a similar scene was being enacted at Charleston, South Carolina, just before that State’s secession from the Union on December 20, 1860. In that instance, the guns of the only fortification occupied in any strength by Federal troops, Fort Moultrie, were facing Charleston Harbor rather than the city. To compound the tactical problem, a row of private homes had been built within a stones throw of the open rear of the aging fort and anyone or anything, including livestock, were able to gain easy entry into the facility. The garrison’s commanding officer, Major Robert Anderson, of course realized that his position was indefensible and that he and his seventy-five troops would soon have to move to the unfinished and unoccupied, but far more defendable, Fort Sumter in the middle of the harbor. There was, however, one obstacle to such an action . . . one that was political rather than military.