Building Exterior Description Jefferson Hotel, Richmond Virginia

Overall dimensions: Approximately 349 feet from Franklin down to Main Street along Jefferson Street (22 bays); approximately 140 feet width along Franklin Street (nine bays).

The hotel is located on a grade running from Franklin Street to Main Street, an overall drop of approximately seventeen feet, causing the basement story on the north to become the first story on the south. The north front is broken up into separate but related blocks of towers and lower wings; the south two-thirds is much more solidified, consisting of an eight-story, U-shaped mass surrounding the two-story central lobby.

North (Franklin Street) facade: This is the original Italianate design of Carrere and Hastings and consists of a central four-story unit dominated by a two-story loggia on the two middle levels. The flanking six-story towers with belvederes on the top story are in turn flanked by two three-story wings with low hipped roofs, set back one window width from the central design. Except for the terra cotta and stone ornament, the cream-colored brick is the principal surface material being used on the rustication on the first story and as a plain surface above. The three-bay center section noted earlier has a central entrance on the first level with matching windows to either side. The flat moldings on the jambs rise to volutes with fruit swags and a central panel filled with leaf patterns in spirals. These volutes support the three slightly projecting balustraded balconies of the three-arched loggia above, which screens the porch behind, it. The arcade, with its double columns in the two center arch supports, is composed of unfluted Corinthian columns and plain frieze and cornice from which spring the arches. The interior porch wall reflects this arcade design in relief. The flanking six-story towers have a rather plain window design on the first rusticated level, being ornamented by a flat arch and keystone motif, identical to all other windows on this front with the exception of the three bays under the central loggia. The combined second and third floor window treatment under the towers enhances the importance of these levels that frame the loggia. The main opening on the second, story is in a modified di-style in antis motif with a small balustraded balcony in front and an entablature above, upon which rests the third-story window. Elaborate shields with the Jefferson's monogram topped by lion's heads flank this third-story window and a similar design with a central cartouche rests above it. The fourth and fifth windows, being double and triple respectively, rise to the belvederes, which actually function as the covered end pavilions to a U-shaped balustraded terrace. Roman Ionic pilasters frame the Palladian motif openings on all four sides of the two belvederes. The hipped roofs have modillioned cornices, used on all roof treatment seen on this north front.

The three-story wings which complete the facade design continue the rusticated first level and the second and third level window treatment of the towers and central loggia, but on a more subtle vein using some terra cotta decoration between the upper two levels. The two clock towers set back behind these two wings rise above even the eight-story Main Street front. Although there are some openings at lower levels, the main treatment is, of course, near the top. Large clock facings front on all four sides between the wide end pilasters. Above this a massive modillioned cornice supports the balustrading from which the upper two levels of the tower rise. The lower rectangular windows are just under the balustrading for the large arched openings, framed at the corner by Roman Ionic columns. From this square "base rises the ribbed, four-sectioned dome topped by a finial. Here, more than any other single design concept in the hotel, can be seen the Spanish Renaissance trademark of Carrere and Hastings, the tower supposedly being inspired by the Giralda tower on the Cathedral of Seville. The use of similar openings, orders and scale at least within the detailing, cause these high clock towers to blend with the rest of the Franklin Street facade.

South (main street) facade: This eight-story front, broken into two three-bay fronts on the upper levels due to the U-shape of the southern two-thirds of the hotel, is much less distinguished than the 1895 part and bears a common relationship with the many other Roman Renaissance hotels in America of the early-twentieth century. The first two stories develop the theme, seen in a more satisfying system on the north front, of a rusticated first level with oversized arched windows and fluted Corinthian pilasters on the second level. This motif is carried out for three-bays around the corner on the west front. The center three arched bays in front of the recess are framed by a two-story engaged tetra-style Roman Doric portico with a paneled parapet wall and central cartouche above. This same classical feeling is carried out in the 1907 Engineers Club and ballroom addition to the east of the main hotel block, which also has a rusticated basement, but with the engaged portico confined to the second-story arched windows. The upper stories of the main hotel are plain with a double rowlock brick lintel over the windows. The top story, above a narrow frieze, has squat attic windows and a heavy cornice supported by double modillions, having had the paired pilasters between the windows removed.

West (Jefferson Street) facade: Originally designed for the loading and unloading of travelers' baggage, this side street front now serves mainly as a subordinate entranceway to the hotel and to the Colony Club in the basement. Eight bays, starting at Franklin Street and going south, are part of the original design but are in the restrained spirit of the end wings of the north front. Beginning at the end of this section and for several bays south is the old Carriage entrance projection which is still retained in shape, but the design is of the 1907 rebuilding. This projection with rounded ends is continued up to the roof cornice. The rounded ends, which originally functioned as an arched entrance and exit for the carriages, have been filled in as a window on the south end, and the north one is used as a truck loading area.