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Old meets new at Marriott Downtown Syracuse

Ellen Abbott
Spencer Wallace, a former manager of the Hotel Syracuse talks with the manager of the new Marriott Downtown Syracuse, Paul McNeil

Old met new at the former Hotel Syracuse this week. The manager of what is now the Marriott Downtown Syracuse and the manager of the hotel in its hey days toured the historic facility in downtown Syracuse Tuesday. The hotel is undergoing a $57 million dollar renovation.  

Spencer Wallace was the general manager of the Hotel Syracuse during a time of great change -- from the 1960s through the 1980s. And as new owners came and went, he witnessed the decline of the historic property, which ultimately closed in 2004. Wallace is now 92, and recalls how it once was the heartbeat of Syracuse.

"It was the headquarters for Syracuse. Everybody in Syracuse and the surrounding area would make it a point to come in sometime or other -- eat at the Dutch Coffee House, or have a drink at the Rainbow Lounge. It was a real special place."

Wallace joined Paul McNeil, the new manager of what is now the Marriott Downtown Syracuse. McNeil is a Buffalo native, and has managed properties across the country. He’s upbeat about the prospects of the downtown hotel.

"You’re taking historical elegance, and matching it with contemporary luxury. And what I’m trying to say is, there’s a blend. We’re trying to bring back the historic Hotel Syracuse, the memories and the glory days, and the next generation travelers,” said McNeil.

The hotel is still on track to open in mid-2016.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.