This once glorious, high-end Blackhawk Hotel was built in 1915 during an economic boom period in Davenport. It originally was a seven-story hotel but in the 1920s, with money flowing into the city, four more stories were added. This created a 400 room brick hotel, with a fancy frontage, complete with marble accents around the windows.
During its long history, prominent guests stayed at the Blackhawk Hotel, from movie stars to politicians. Carey Grant, Carl Sandburg, Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon and Jack Dempsey were some of its more distinguished guests.
In the late 1970s, the economic growth that Davenport had enjoyed flat-lined. The city of Davenport jumped into action and took urban renewal seriously, building a new civic center, called the Rivercenter, a good first step in their attempt to revitalize downtown. Over the years, this effort to revitalize downtown Davenport has proven to be an uphill battle in which they have made good progress, seeing improvements as a result of their efforts.
In the 1990s, when the economy picked up, a convention center was built near the Blackhawk Hotel. Many new additions and renovations to existing buildings took place and the construction of new buildings, such as the Figge Art Museum, brought new energy into the city. Plans to attract visitors downtown started with sprucing up their outside public areas, such as the fixing up of Modern Woodmen Park. In order to develop the riverfront area and build a new hotel, which was badly needed, the city struck a deal with a gambling organization, The Isle of Capri, who also bought the Blackhawk Hotel.
The hotel reopened as The President Casino's Blackhawk Hotel, with close proximity to a gaming casino. Due to a fire, the inside of the hotel, particularly one floor, was heavily damaged. Other floors suffered water damage as a result of firemen’s hoses. The hotel finally closed in February 2006. This closing left the convention center in a rough situation, as there was now only one hotel, the Radisson, to take its visitors, thus making it hard to book shows and conventions there.
In April 2009, the Blackhawk Hotel was sold directly to an experienced, enthusiastic restoration/renovation company, Restoration St. Louis.
The project was completed in December of 2010. Restoration St. Louis’ main goal was to make the Blackhawk a place to be once again. Modern renovations have been made to the rooms, but Restoration St. Louis wanted to maintain a 1920s feel in the lobby, taking guests back in time to the period the Hotel Blackhawk was first built. The historic lobby was restored and the original chandelier and marble flooring have been preserved to add to this grand lobby. In addition, the bowling alley made a return to the lower level. Many of the hotel’s original features still remain today, including a grand piano, once played by big bands such as Guy Lombardo and Stan Kenton.
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