Sophisticated Living Louisville July/August 2021

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The Grady Hotel is a historic gem steeped in the spirit of Louisville, offering luxe accommodations and provisions to guests and locals alike. Written by Bridget Williams / Photos courtesy of The Grady Hotel

The Grady, downtown Louisville's newest hotel, is steeped in history. Developed by Tennessee-based Vision Hospitality Group and managed by Humanist Hospitality, one quickly discerns a concerted effort to weave a compelling narrative within the walls of the 51-room boutique property, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Fittingly, the name of this adaptive reuse project pays homage to Louisville native Grady Clay (1916-2013), a journalist, an editor of Landscape Architecture magazine, an NPR commentator, and an early authority on urban design and renewal. The five-story building was originally constructed in the mid-1800s by the J.B. Wilder & Co. as an apothecary. A newspaper clipping from August 28, 1852, in The Louisville Daily Courier reads, "While passing along Main street one may well stop and gaze at the fine gothic front, the only one in the West, and admire the beauty of the moulding and of the stone itself which was procured in Indiana." The building became home to the Swann-Abram Hat Company in the early 1900s. Buyers of their men's felt hats were given a copper good luck token, about the size of a penny, and embossed with a swan. Today, reproductions of those coins make up a large installation 20

behind the reception desks that spells out the hotel's name (look really hard, and you'll spy a single Canadian penny in the mix). An abundance of natural light adds palpable energy to the high-ceilinged lobby. I lost count trying to count the number of arms that comprise a contemporary light fixture at the center of the room, one of several oversized showstoppers adorning the public spaces. Outfitted in the retro-modern look that's all the rage right now, several distinct and inviting seating areas make this a place you wouldn't mind lingering in. When I first entered the lobby, a green velvet-covered banquet positioned between a pair of bookcases filled with tomes, objects, and ephemera that nod to the building's past immediately caught my eye. Referred to as "Grady Green," the jade hue is a nod to Louisville's Olmsted Parks as well as signifying serenity, harmony, and balance. Kentucky references are both subtle—casing in a doorway leading from the lobby to the elevator accentuated by distressed wood calls to mind the inside of a charred bourbon barrel—to more direct depictions of horses in the artwork. Mitch Patel, CEO of Vision Hospitality Group, is an ardent art collector. Eventually, QR codes placed near each piece of art will allow onlookers to learn more about each piece in The Grady's unique collection.