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Modern meets classic at the new Mariott Syracuse Downtown

Ellen Abbott
One of the guest rooms at the new Marriott Syracuse Downtown

Visitors to the Marriott Syracuse Downtown will be getting a glimpse of two worlds when they stay in one of the renovated rooms of what used to be the Hotel Syracuse.

The renovation of the rooms has been dictated in part by the funding of the $57 million project, according to hotel owner Ed Riley. There were historic preservation grants from the state and federal governments, that came with strict guidelines, meaning an entire floor of the hotel couldn’t be gutted and refitted with new totally new rooms.

"What we have to do to convert these rooms is, the two things we can’t touch, we can’t touch the door locations and we can’t touch the window locations,” said Riley. “Because they’re historic on the outside and on the inside to the corridors. So we have to fit within the box that we’re given between the windows and the doors. So what happens is you get two rooms put together, two of the old rooms, to make an oversized normal room."

And that’s the part that’s modern. Queen or double beds, pull out couches, large bathrooms with double sinks and a shower. Plus the high tech amenities, like a flat screen TV, bedside USB outlets and even tiny reading lamps that drop out of the bed’s headboard.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Then, look toward the door, and you see the 1920s. Called coffin doors, or pocket doors, there’s space in the middle where guests would leave clothing for a valet.  And Riley says the doors also harken back to the days when air conditioning wasn’t a given.

“This hotel touted itself as having central air conditioning when it opened,” said Riley. “And the only areas that were really air conditioned were the corridors and the public spaces, so what you had to do to get air conditioning in the room was hit a button on the door that said open or close the vent.  And there was a flap at the top and the bottom that would let the air come into the rooms.”

The Hotel Syracuse opened in 1924, and after losing business in the 1980s and '90s, shut its doors in 2005. This long awaited renovation has taken the interior down to its studs, and all the public portions of the property on Warren Street will look like they did 91 years ago. The hotel opening is still on track for spring 2016.