May 16, 2008
  Art Deco Gem Sparkles Again
The historic Stoneleigh hotel in Dallas completes renovations

by Heather Livingston
Contributing Editor

How do you . . . add modern amenities while breathing life back into a large, historic hotel.

Summary: When its doors opened in 1923, Dallas’s $1.5 million Stoneleigh Hotel was the tallest luxury hotel west of the Mississippi. Designed by architect F.J. Woerner, the 11-story concrete, stone, terracotta, and brick structure was built in the Beaux Arts style. With its remarkable height and bold Art Deco interior by Dorothy Draper, the Stoneleigh quickly gained a reputation as a hotel of elegance and glamour and hosted famous guests who include Frank Lloyd Wright (although he reportedly described Draper as an “inferior desecrator”), Elvis Presley, Maria Callas, Bob Hope, Katherine Hepburn, and Andy Warhol. In February, the newly reappointed Stoneleigh Hotel and Spa reopened with updated and expanded guest rooms, a new Grand Salon created from found space, and a full-service spa.

Listed as one of the “Historic Hotels of America” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the goal of the $36 million restoration and renovation of the Stoneleigh was to preserve the hotel’s original elegance while incorporating modern elements. With the restoration led by architect of record Gromatsky Dupree & Associates Architects (GDA) and sumptuous new interiors by hospitality design firm ForrestPerkins, the Stoneleigh maintains the building’s 1930s-era Art Deco splendor while introducing a new level of modern sophistication and service. The hotel’s penthouse suites are being designed by Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper Inc.

What’s old is new again
ForrestPerkins was commissioned with refurbishing the hotel including the lobby and lobby lounge spaces, ground floor ballroom, and 170 guest rooms and suites, plus creating a new full-service spa and roof-top ballroom. “It’s a very simple building,” says ForrestPerkins Principal Deborah Forrest. “It was always a fairly simple interior architectural statement, and our role was both to maintain and work with the existing interior architectural elements … and to enhance all of that with a new interior design scheme that brought a liveliness and sense of glamour back into the building.”

The renovated lobby and lounge conjoin amid sparkling crystal chandeliers, elegant furniture, hand-tufted rugs, and—in a nod to its Deco heritage—rich fabrics in shades of emerald, amethyst, and platinum. The hotel’s original ballroom is accessible from the ground floor and, surrounded by windows on three sides, awash with natural light. ForrestPerkins diligently restored and retained many of the hotel’s original details, including the original plaster moldings in the original ballroom, a brushed steel and brass stair rail, rosso levanto marble columns, and polished mahogany and ebony millwork in the lobby.

The Stoneleigh’s 170 renovated guest rooms include tribute suites that honor past visitors and residents, including Judy Garland, Andy Warhol, and Margo Jones, founder of the Dallas Theater Center. For the guest rooms, ForrestPerkins designed two distinct Art Deco-inspired schemes of coral red, pink, charcoal, and ivory and teal, cinnamon, aqua, and ivory, with chocolate stained mahogany wood furnishings and platinum appointments. To complete the sense of history, ForrestPerkins worked with GDA to enlarge the bathrooms and furnish them with marble-topped vanities with chrome legs. “It feels as if the bathrooms could have been just restored from the original,” enthuses Forrest.

Added features
A new amenity for the Stoneleigh is the Grand Salon, a rooftop ballroom created from found space that had once housed ordinary guest rooms and an ill-fitting two-story loft space that never quite found its purpose. “What it told us was that there was plenty of ceiling height within this end of the building,” explains Forrest. “By removing one pipe column that was in the center of the space and transferring that load, we were able to create an open space with windows on two sides, approximately 14-foot ceilings, and magnificent views.”

For the spa, ForrestPerkins extended the lobby’s color scheme, but distilled the bold emerald and amethyst tones to placid aquamarine and rose quartz. The women’s locker room includes two large whirlpool spa tubs and a large shower with full body sprays, and the men’s locker room includes a sauna. The spa also features a women’s relaxation room, eight treatment rooms that include two couple’s rooms, and a nail and hair salon.

According to Forrest, the community response to the Stoneleigh’s renovation has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s a place that’s been loved and respected by the people in Dallas since its opening,” says Forrest. “Certainly the public has reacted very favorably to the changes and there is a lot of acceptance, even from folks who have been going to the Stoneleigh all their lives … When you have the opportunity to make a place a better version of itself and give it back to the community in a way that allows the next generation of visitors and customers to enjoy the building, that really is very gratifying.”

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For more information on the work of Dorothy Draper, visit this Web site.

Photo Credits
Stoneleigh exterior rendering courtesy of GDA.

Stoneleigh hotel room photo © Michael Wilson.

Bolla bar photo © Justin Clemons