August 17, 2005

Hilton sells Chicago’s landmark Palmer House Hotel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Palmer House Hotel, the landmark
Chicago hotel where writers Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling and
U.S. presidents once spent the night, has been sold to Thor
Equities, a private equity group, for $230 million, the
companies said on Wednesday..

Thor, which bought the building from Hilton Hotels Corp.,
plans on pouring more than $100 million into renovations, which
will include a three-level retail center.

But the hotel's opulent lobby will be preserved.

Renovations will take about two to three years, Thor said.

Hilton will continue to operate the 1,639-room, 79-suite
hotel, located at Monroe and Wabash streets in Chicago's Loop,
under a long-term management contract. There are no plans to
close the hotel during renovation, Hilton spokeswoman Kathy
Shepard said.

The Palmer House was built by wealthy entrepreneur Potter
Palmer, opening on September 26, 1871. It burned to the ground
just 13 days later in the Great Chicago fire. Palmer built anew
hotel across the street from the former building and opened it
in July 1873.

It was the first hotel to be equipped with electric lights
and telephones in each room.

Conrad Hilton purchased the Palmer House in December 1945.