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Living up to the Legacy

by Kathleen Walls

Galt House Hotel and Ohio River view. Credit Galt House Hotel

The heritage of the Galt House Hotel begins long before the magnificent 25 story hotel on the banks of the Ohio River that is the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby. The original Galt House was literally that, the home of Dr. William Craig Galt who was well known for his hospitality. He was a noted physician in the early days of Louisville and a member of the first Louisville Medical Society. He was the attending physician for Louisville founder, George Rogers Clark, when General Clark's leg was amputated in 1809. Clark was the brother of William Clark, the Clark in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

A suite at the Galt House

The first actual Galt House was a 60 rooml hotel built around 1835, on land Dr. Galt owned across the street from his residence It was on the northeast corner of Second and Main and con-sidered one of the best-known hostelries in the 19th century. It played host to many famous personages. , Presidents Lincoln and Grant stayed there. Famed British author Charles Dickens enjoyed his visit so much he wrote about the Galt House in his American Notes .

The aviary at Galt House

The most unusual occurrence in its history occurred in 1862 when Union General Jefferson Davis?no relation to the Confederate President? shot and killed a fellow Union general, William ?Bull? Nelson. Davis claimed Nelson had "offended" him on several occasions. Davis was never tried for the murder. That didn't discourage Union generals from lodging at the hotel. In March 1864, Generals Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman met at the Galt House to plan Sherman's March to the Sea.

in 1865. a fire destroyed this historical hotel. A larger Galt House was built in 1969 at First and Main. The hotel fell on hard times and closed in 1919. It was torn down in 1921

The Rivue

However. The legacy was not dead only dormant. Al J. Schneider. the grandson of German immigrants, saw the vision of a Louisville waterfront with parks, living and office space and, in 1969, made the only bid to develop a hotel property on the river in the downtown area. In 1972 Schneider, who with only an eighth grade education started a successful lumber company at the age 0f 24, saw his dream come true. He opened his 25 story hotel which would follow in the legacy of the original Galt House Hotel and surpass it. In March 1985, Schneider added the East Tower with 600 suites. Today, it is the largest hotel in Kentucky.

As the official hotel of the Kentucky Derby, it is usually book well in advance of the race. It opens the festivities with Thunder Over Louisville , the official opening ceremonies for the two fun-filled week of the Kentucky Derby Festival as well as the nation's largest firework's show!

View from the Rivue


You will find all the expected amenities of a top end hotel. There are also a few unexpected perks . Their Jockey Silks is on the Urban Bourbon Trail . You can try a Bourbon Sidecar or a Kentucky Colonel Cocktail or one of their own signature bourbon drinks, The hotel also has a conservatory, boasting Al J's Café, a greenhouse and aviary. Its Rivue Restaurant and Lounge is top of the heap in more ways than one. The food and drinks are superb but what really makes this place special is its glass enclosed lounge that revolves offering spectacular views of the Ohio River from 25 stories above it.  The hotel is also connected by a skywalk to Riverfront Towers and the rest of the Waterfront. It is the place to stay when you visit Louisville.

For more info: http://www.galthouse.com/

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.


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