The Hotel Florence, named after Pullman’s favorite daughter, opened on November 1, 1881. The 23,000 sq.-ft. building, with a wide wraparound veranda, cost $100,000 to build, with interior fixtures and plush furnishings worth over $30,000. The annex was built in the 1910s.
When it opened, the four-story hotel offered 50 sleeping rooms, a dining room, a billiard room, barber shop, separate men’s and women’s parlors, and the only bar in Pullman (off limits to workers).
The building was originally lit with gas lights and heated with steam radiators. The steam was generated by the Corliss Engine located across the street in the factory buildings.
The first floor and Pullman Suite were trimmed with cherry woodwork and accented by multicolored stained glass windows. Pullman kept a suite on the second floor for days when he visited (the Pullman family lived in the fashionable Prairie Avenue District, just south of downtown.)
Each floor provided a different class of service. The more elegant and expensive rooms were located on the second floor, where they were closer to the lobby. These rooms were outfitted with Eastlake furniture and sometimes included larger suite layouts.