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Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Once you see my photo of the renowned Hot Brown Sandwich at the historic Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY you will know why we HAD to stop here for lunch en route to Cincinnati. Does the word NOM come to mind? nom!

Hot Brown at The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

We were on a deadline to get to The American Sign Museum and had but a scant few minutes to race through the Brown Hotel, and did a quick race around to snap some photos.But in that short time we knew that this was a place we’d love to stay, so on the map it goes!

Built in 1923, closed in 1971, restored and reopened in the early 1980’s, the Brown is on the National Register of Historic places.

Entering the empty lobby and hearing the disembodied sounds of piano music coming from an un-manned grand piano, we thought we perhaps had slipped back into a ghost-decade of the hotel’s historic past. AKA The Best Feeling Ever.

Lobby and Piano The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

The opulent two-story lobby has a hand-painted, coffered ceiling, Bottocino marble flooring, finely carved mahogany furnishings and Palladian-style windows. The Georgian-Revival style exterior is trimmed in stone and terra cotta. The Brown Hotel’s ornate hand-painted plaster relief ceilings, intricately carved railings, decorative crown molding, and other classic architectural details make her one of the finest hotels in the South.

Here’s Retro Roadhusband being tres elegante in one of the many pieces of period furniture in the lobby.

RetroRoadhusband in the Big Chair At The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

A big Thank You goes out to the swell lady behind the counter, who instead of chasing us meddling kids away, gave us brochures about the history of the hotel – and their famous sandwich – and encouraged us to check out some of the rooms on the floor above.

I loved the empty, yet still wallpapered booths that once held payphones. Young readers may not remember pay phones, or The New Yorker Cartoons that illustrate the wallpaper, but they’re both wonderful evidence of the history and longevity of the hotel.
Empty Pay Phone Booths The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

But enough about architecture, wallpaper and payphones, says Retro Roadhusband – let’s get one of those SANDWICHES!!!!
RetroRoadhusband Says Lets EAT! The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

(You can see additional of the great details of The Brown Hotel here at the Photo Gallery link on their website, which includes a number of 360 Virtual Tours.)

Thanks to the great folks at the Roadfood.com “Where Should I Eat?” forum, we knew that the Hot Brown was a not miss delicacy on our breakneck trek through Louisville.

Butter + heavy cream + Romano cheese + roasted turkey breast + bacon + omatoes + texas toast +salt & pepper = NOM!

Hot Brown at The Brown Hotel Louisville KY

(This totally reminds me of a little something my dear, great-aunt Agga would assemble in her small apartment kitchen when I’d come over to help her organize her stuff. Wonderful memory and wonderful tasty food.)

Here’s the history of this treat From The Brown Hotel’s description of their signature sandwich:

In the 1920’s, The Brown Hotel drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. In the wee hours of the morning, the guests would grow tired of dancing and retire to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Diners were growing rapidly bored with the traditional ham and eggs, so Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests’ palates. His unique creation was an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce.

The sandwich was rich and delicious, and while we tried to be healthy/frugal and ordered one to share (along with a salad) I totally wish we had indulged and gotten one for each of us. The Brown gives the recipe for this Hot Brown delicacy on their website, so once the weather cools, we may try to recreate them at home.

While this was too short of a visit to truly absorb the wonderfulness of The Brown Hotel and their killer lunch, hopefully we’ve shown you enough to encorage you to visit when you’re in Louisville yourself!

Brown Hotel & Famous Hot Brown Sandwich
335 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 583-1234

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While w would have loved to stay at the posh Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, TN we did  scurry ourselves over there to witness the daily parade of ducks as they make their way to the fountain in the lobby, as they have every day since the 1930s!
Peabody Hotel BookThe place was an absolute madhouse of families and tourists all lined up on the red carpeted path from the penthouse elevator to the fountain, but it was fun to be part of this tradition. We managed to catch a quick glimpse of a duck butt or two as they waddled quickly to their aquatic destination, and I could not help but laugh at how quickly it was over. We did catch a glimpse of the elevator that takes the ducks from their penthouse suite to the lobby, and lo and behold, there’s an egg.

The Peabody Duck Egg Memphis TN

We decided to return to the Peabody later in the day when it wasn’t so crowded, and I’m glad I was able to get some shots of this glorious downtown hotel. As well as the ducks, up close and personal.

Here’s the beautiful centerpiece of the lobby, the Italian travertine marble fountain where the ducks swim daily:

Fountain at Peabody Hotel Memphis TN

And a closeup of the webfooted fiends and their little friends:

Peabody Ducks and Kids

So how did this tradition of the Peabody Duck March of the ducks start?

Funny enough it started with the General Manager returning from a hunting trip and thinking it would be funny to leave their live duck decoys in the fountain (much to the delight of guests). This tradition was given the added pomp and circumstance of the march when a bellman – who happened to be an ex-animal trainer for the circus was put in charge of the ducks. He trained the ducks to march (more like scurry) to the fountain to the strains of the Sousa King Cotton March and it has been a tradition at 11am and 5pm ever since.

This has also become a tradition at the Peabody hotels in Orlando and Little Rock.

Now onto the hotel!

The Peabody Hotel we see today was built in 1925, continuing the tradition and history of The Peabody hotel that had been on a different location in Memphis from 1869-1923. Built in an Italian Renaissance style it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Peabody Hotel Lobby

A destination in its heyday, The Peabody was famous for it’s rooftop “Skyway” venue – one of just three national locations for live radio broadcasts during the 1930s and 1940s.

Peabody Hotel Skyway Postcard ebay mikeleach

I may sound like a broken record when I remind readers of the dark times that many of these historic downtowns went through in the 1960s and 1970s, and Memphis was no exception. The Peabody closed down in 1975 but then was luckily saved and restored, to once again serve the public in 1981.The reopening of The Peabody is considered by many to have been a major inspiration for the downtown revitalization that continues to this day in Memphis.

One of the many interesting thing to note about the Peabody is that it has 13 floors – not a particularly lucky number to many. Because superstition is so strong about this number in many hotels, the Peabody has replaced the number 13 in their elevators with the letter S – for Skyway. Bad luck avoided!

House Phone

So if you’re in the mood for some silly swimmers or a swanky swig at the Grand Lobby Bar (named by Esquire as a Top Ten Best Watering Hole in America) waddle on over to the Peabody!

The Peabody Hotel
49 Union Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 529-4000

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Regular readers will know of our love of The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville PA – this time of year especially, with Blobfest – the kitschy fun homage to that gelatinous mass that put The Colonial on the moviegoing map, all the way back in 1958.

This year we decided to put our money where our mouth is and sponsor a table at Blobfest to add to the festivities with a table full of vintage souvenirs for sale, and Diners of Pennsylvania book signing!

diners-of-pennsylvania-2-retro-roadmap-retroroadmap-blobfest-2011

Yes, that’s right – I’m honored to play Retro RoadHostess to Kyle Weaver and Kevin Patrick -two of the 3 gents responsible for the great resource book Diners of Pennsylvania second edition. They will be selling and signing copies of Diners of PA at the Retro Roadmap booth from 12-4pm.

They will also be telling the history of the diner(s) that appeared in The Blob – so stop on by!

While they’re doing their diner thing I will be spreading the good word about Retro Roadmap as well as selling and sharing some of my vintage vacation souvenirs – vacation plates, snow globes, pennants, we’ll see what’s in the collection!

Snow Domes in Storage Retro Roadmap.com Mod Betty

I would be neglecting my duties as a citizen of Phoenixville if I didn’t share our famous Retro Roadmap Blobfest Map – including sites from the movie and local landmarks to check out:

And day wouldn’t be complete without a showing of The Blob at 2pm – this year I’m proud to say that our own Retro Roadmap fave local photographer Laura Keen Photography is sponsoring the movie showing (you may remember she took some fun photos of yours truly a few months back – what fun!) – check The Colonial’s schedule for other showing times and double features.

Who doesn’t love the famous “Running Out” scene from The Blob – with The Colonial Theatre making her glorious screen debut!


(Yes, we know this version is en Espanol, but screams are universal :-))

And finally, here’s some handy Blobfest Street Fair Information:

Hosted by Hot Rod Scott & Professor Ouch of The Roots Rockabilly Roadhouse on  WPRB 103.3FM

Special guests The Violators Motor Club

Live music by The Buzzards

There will be plenty of fun stuff to do and see including:

John’s Old School New Skool Barber Shop

– Fire Extinguisher Parade

– Costume contest

– Facade contest

– Street food

– Vintage vendors

– Classic cars

– And More!

Read all about Blobfest here on the Colonial Theatre page or visit the Blobfest Facebook Page to become a fan. Is this going to be a wicked fun day or what?!

Blobfest Saturday July 9, 2011
Bridge Street
Phoenixville, PA

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As I mentioned during our visit to the Silver Skillet in Atlanta GA, the presence of authentic “boomerang” formica usually means a good meal awaits – as was the case with our breakfast at the Arcade Restaurant in Memphis, TN.

Arcade Restaurant Boomerang Formica(a silly smiling girl in the background doesn’t hurt either!)

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Now I’m not in the market for jewelry – but if I was in Austin TX I’d head to Kruger’s Jewelers to buy my baubles, just to say thank you to them for keeping their vintage signage and facade so glorious!

Kruger's Jewelers Clock and Facade
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Built in 1886 The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin – and rumored to be haunted! This is a first for us. We did not stay here (it’s ultra swanky) but we got to tour around a bit during South by Southwest this spring. Come on along and we’ll show you what we saw!
Driskill Hotel Austin TX

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This just in – tomorrow June 5 begins the first in a series of silent films being shown at the historic Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, ME. Got this information straight from their Facebook page – how handy!

Leavitt Theatre Ogunquit ME

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