Developers are breathing new life into a 114-year-old building that will soon open as a 58-room boutique hotel and restaurant in Downtown Memphis.
Renovations on the old Scimitar Building, located at the intersection of Madison Avenue and B.B. King Boulevard, are moving along quickly; Hotel Napoleon is slated to open by the end of August 2016.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and named after the building’s first owner, Hotel Napoleon will maintain many of the building’s historic features.
“The building was built in 1902 by Memphis’ original ‘Merchant Prince,’ Napoleon Hill, thus the name Hotel Napoleon,” architect Brian Bullard, UrbanARCH Associates, explained. “Later, it was used as home to the Memphis Press Scimitar and later still, MLGW Headquarters.”
Despite not having any significant improvements made to the building since 1983, developers wanted to make sure the new designs complemented the existing architecture.
“We wanted the design to convey the idea that a 100-plus-year-old building could be adapted for new use as an exciting modern hotel by incorporating contemporary design elements and modern, yet timeless, finish materials using a combination of handcrafted and computer-fabricated techniques,” Bullard said.
Floor-to-ceiling windows will wrap two sides of the lobby, providing a lot of natural light inside. At the same time, Bullard said he wants visitors to feel a sense of openness, allowing them to experience the activity occurring on the street outside.
“This renovation is the third major transformation of the public lobby space in the history of this building and we wanted to bring back the original concept of the larger unified lobby with entrances on both Third Street and Madison Avenue,” he said.
The restaurant and bar will bring together a hybrid design of modern and historic architecture that developers hope will attract a new generation of hotel guests.
“The restaurant was originally conceived as a tapas and wine bar,” Bullard said. “A wine bottle display is incorporated into the millwork atop the wall that separates the restaurant from the rest of the lobby and is visible throughout the space and from the space.”
With Hotel Napoleon expected to open by end of August, a few positions still need to be filled.
Owners Snay Patel and Jay Kumar, of Suna Winchester LLC, said Hotel Napoleon is still looking for housekeepers, restaurant staff, and front desk clerks. Those interested in applying should send an email to HNHiringYou@gmail.com.
Hotel Napoleon is currently accepting reservations for stays beginning August 28, 2016.
The decision to renovate the Scimitar Building into a boutique hotel sparked an exciting trend in that area of Downtown Memphis.
“I’ve heard about a couple more bars that are opening,” Patel said. “We’d like to see that corner come to life even more than it is at this point.”
A separate company recently announced plans to renovate the former Regions Bank Building, located less than one block away at 158 Madison Avenue, into a boutique hotel expected to open by end of 2017.