The Farragut Story
After the Hotel Imperial burned down in 1917, Knoxville businessmen Ben Morton, Will Ross, and Hugh Sanford saw a lack in their city’s hotel offerings and decided to do something about it.
They commissioned New York architect William Lee Stoddart to design the new Farragut Hotel. Stoddart had completed projects in Georgia, Alabama, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, New York, and New Jersey.
World War I caused a shortage of building materials and labor and slowed down construction, but the Farragut Hotel finally opened two years later in February 1919. Stoddart’s designs drew on the Colonial style. His plans included such features as a spacious lobby, Tennessee pink marble floor, brass railings, and large windows with arches. The building took its name from one of the U.S. Navy’s most famous admirals, David Glasgow Farragut, who was born in West Knox Country and was responsible for capturing the strategic Confederate fort at Mobile Bay.
The hotel’s dining room and Oak Room became popular gathering places for travelers, politicians, and local socialites. For thirty years, it was the epitome of Knoxville’s vitality and prosperity until, in the 1950s, downtown residents began migrating to the suburbs.
In the early 1980s, First Tennessee Bank took advantage of the hotel’s location and elegance for office space, and in recent years, the revival of Knoxville’s downtown neighborhood has touched the Farragut.