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Florence Hotel--A Blend of Old and New


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    Entrance to Victors at Florence Hotel

    We expect a hotel to have all the modern amenities and conveniences. It's a plus when they have a unique personality and interesting history. Hotel Florence fills the bill all the way. It's a small 64-room boutique hotel in historic downtown Florence, South Carolina so you get very personal attention when you stay there. It was a Choice Hotel's Ascend Collection Platinum Award Status Winner in 2015 and the winner of the Ascend Hotel Collection brand's 2016 Hotel of the Year Award so they know it is doing things right.

    Lobby at  Florence Hotel

    As soon as you enter the lobby, you know this is a historic building. It's been perfectly modernized but its history can be glimpsed in subtle touches. The sections of exposed brick walls, Persian rugs, classic furniture and exquisite chandeliers give just a hint of Victorian elegance blended with modern comfort. 

    Second floor hall at  Florence Hotel

    When I stayed at the Hotel Florence, my room was on the second floor. Just steps from my door were the commons, a glass enclosed business center, and to the rear a fitness center; all so convenient.  WiFi worked perfectly, bed was comfortable, the turn down service and chocolates were an added bonus. The Spa at Hotel Florence is located right next door if you really want pampering.

    Breakfast at Victors at  Florence Hotel

    Speaking of pampering, Victors, the hotel restaurant, is just off the lobby and open from 6:30 in the morning to 10 at night. It was voted Florence's Best Restaurant. Judging from the two breakfasts I enjoyed there I would have to agree. There is a full service bar and the beautiful modern decor with touches of history blends perfectly with the hotel.

    Piano and player at Victors at  Florence Hotel

    There is a piano for evening entertainment. The patio dining area leads to one of the many green spaces Florence offers in its revitalized downtown. To the rear, there are two meeting rooms to accommodate large parties. The most fun items in Victors take you back to the building's history: a perfectly restored bank teller window and huge pictures of the hotel's original occupants.

    Bar at Victors

    Actually, it's three buildings that comprise the hotel. The former Schofield Hardware building comprises the main hotel building, including the lobby, most of the guestrooms, and Victors. This original building was a one story structure build by Henry S. Rose in 1891 from which he operated his general merchandise/grocery store. This is represented in one of the photographs in Victors.

    Historic pictures at Victors of buildings converted to  Florence Hotel

    The building was damaged in the great fire of 1899 and in 1905 Mr. Rose rebuilt and expanded to three floors. He continued to use the 1st floor for his store and the 2nd and 3rd floors were used as The Family Hotel. He later leased the right side to Louis Palles for a candy and fruit store. After Rose's death, his widow sold the building to First National Bank who continued to lease out the space for the grocery store until 1930.

    Over the years the building saw many uses and experienced the usual decay of many old building in downtown areas as malls reached out for the business that once creating a thriving downtown.

    When you step to the left from the lobby into the Rose Room, a small reception or conference room you're in what was once the Jones Smith Jewelers. It was a small two story building that was owned by Henry S. Rose in 1891 and used as a Singer Sewing Machine Company retail sales and repair shop. Jones Smith purchased it and was one of Florence's finest jewelers in the 1940's.The second floor has been built up to become the entrance to the Grand Penthouse.

     Antique Bank Teller's section at Victors at  Florence Hotel

    The Grand Penthouse is located on the second floor of a third building that was the two story Old Florence Bank Building. The teller facade in Victors came this bank. that once occupied part of the space. According to Tim Norwood, Victors owner, "The bank closed in the 1940's.  When we were cleaning out the building, we were pleasantly surprised to find the teller window on the second floor of the building, which is now the penthouse. The teller window was in great shape considering it had been in storage 65 years.  We had to shorten it and add the gold leaf lettering and a little spit and polish."

    The name "Hotel Florence" even has a proud history. The original Hotel Florence was built in 1909 by the Barringer Family and ranked as one of the top hotels in the state because it offered top amenities of that era such as running hot and cold water, private bathrooms, an electric elevator, coffee shop, telephone booths, and an air conditioned lobby and guest rooms. That Hotel Florence succumbed to a disastrous fire closing it down and later the structure was torn down. The name lives on.

    The tie ins between old and new are perfect both architecturally and to tell the history of these three buildings that were as important a part of old Florence as Hotel Florence is of modern Florence.

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    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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