Westin/ Great Southern Hotel

By Becca Finkes

The Westin Hotel

Designed by Frank Packard and Joseph Yost, The Westin Hotel opened in 1897 under the title of the “Great Southern Fire Proof Hotel and Opera House”. It was designed in a time known for excessive fires in cities- Columbus itself had already lost the Seneca, the Deshler, and the Vendome Hotels. The most popular aspect of the Westin at the time was its fireproof adaptabilities, and the owners used that to their advantage by displaying a large sign in the lobby that stated so. It was ahead of its time with its steel, brick, and concrete based construction. Today it is the oldest surviving hotel in Columbus, and holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places as of 1982. In 1985, the hotel underwent renovations to open back up as the grand building it once was.

The hotel resides on the corner of High and Main Street, near the Columbus Commons. The location was originally meant to stimulate development of southern area of Columbus toward the German neighborhood. (Figure 1).

The façade is a tripartite. (Figure 2). It is covered with red brick, uniform windows, and three-story tall pilasters. (Figure 3). The style is that of detailed French Renaissance.

two story lobby area

The two story lobby is decorated with modern interior décor that contrasts the historical exterior. The room is surrounded by large marble ionic and Corinthian columns, and is topped with a stained glass skylight on the ceiling. (Figure 4).


The second floor houses the Grand Ballroom. The original stained glass windows still decorate the walls. Today, the hotel has 188 rooms, James Thurber’s Bar, and over 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

entrance to the Southern Theatre

Attached to the back of the hotel is the Southern Theatre, designed by Dauben, Krumm & Riebel in 1896. The theater is the oldest in Columbus, and underwent renovation in 1998. It now seats 933 people. The façade consists of a grand and ornate archway entrance just off of High Street. (Figure 5).




Works Cited

Darbee, Jeffrey T., and Nancy A. Recchie. The AIA Guide to Columbus. Athens, OH: Ohio UP, 2008. Print.
“The Great Southern Hotel | The Westin Columbus Hotel.” The Westin Columbus. Westin Hotel and Resorts, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2015