Monday, February 22, 2010

The Florence Hotel


Saturday, I tagged along with the rest of the Midwest Large Format Asylum to the Florence Hotel in what once was Pullman Illinois. Pullman was built between 1880 and 1884 as a factory town by the "Pullman's Palace Car Company." A company town conceived by George Pullman, the factory and 1000 homes were built during those 4 years. Built 13 miles south of what was then Chicago, he planned a model community to attract skilled workers and avoid strikes.

The hotel opened in November of 1881 to hold visitors to his showcase town and was named for his daughter. Nearly torn down, it was saved in 1975 and is still undergoing renovation by the Historic Pullman Foundation and the state.

We had access to the whole building. The first floor is somewhat of a museum, while the second floor holds some offices. What was George Pullmans suite for when he came to town, is now an office also. I kind of hoped it would have been restored to period styling, but no chance. I spent most of my time on the third and fourth floors. These floors haven't been restored fully yet. The windows have been replaced and most of the trash cleaned up, but the hallways and rooms are still mostly in a state of disrepair. These floors were for the less luminous lights of society, since they were farther away from the lobby. The rooms tended to be smaller, and the light tricky and very contrasty. I also found a set of smaller rooms that appeared to be for the help. Low ceilings, only one window facing a brick wall along with a very narrow stairs to get to the rooms.

I went through a lot of film, and only pulled out the digital camera towards the end of the time we spent there. The photograph above was an afterthought as I was just getting into my car to leave. There is much more that I missed in the hotel, and the company administrative building is still standing as well as portions of a burned out factory. Hopefully I can make it back with the camera.


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