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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Biltmore Hotel Ballrooms, Los Angeles. Opened: 1923 Interior frescos: Giovanni Battista Smeraldi



The magnificent interiors of the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel are a prime example of the Renaissance style popular during the Beaux Arts period of architecture in the United States (1880-1920).  Designed by the architectural firm of Schultz & Weaver, it was associate architect Earl Heitschmidt who commissioned Giovanni Battista Smeraldi (known in the U.S. as John B. Smeraldi) to create many of the lavishly detailed interior ceilings.  Smeraldi's work can be seen in many historic public buildings in the United States, mainly on the ceilings, and he considered the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel to be his finest work in this country.  The current hotel restaurant off the old lobby is named after him.  Below are photographs I took recently of his incredible work during one of the wonderful walking tours given weekly by the Los Angeles Conservancy.  I highly encourage taking one!
Crystal Ballroom, Los Angeles Bitlmore Hotel. (November 2009)
This is the main ballroom.  This magnificent space was home to the first Academy Awards in 1927, and is the largest of the hotels ballrooms able to accommodate 700 people at tables.  The domed ceiling is a single canvas and the most detailed of Smeraldi's magnificent frescos.

Crystal Ballroom opposite wall, Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. (November 2009)
The balconies visible in this photograph and the previous one extend from three of its walls.

Entryway to the Crystal Ballroom, Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. (November 2009)
Photograph of a famous socialite in her specially designed gown representing the Crystal Ballroom and it's signature balconies (extending from the hip line of the gown).  She had this gown created for the grand opening gala in 1923.  This photograph hangs at the entry to the Crystal Ballroom.  For many years the actual gown stood in a glass case in the Galeria.

Emerald Room ceiling detail, Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. (November 2009)
A golden retriever face stares down at guests from one of the many murals painted by Smeraldi on the beams of the Emerald Room depicting scenes of the hunt.  Once known as the Renaissance Room, it was the hotel's main dining room seating up to 400 guests.