Just Ducky

September 2, 1925

An estimated 1,200 guests attended the grand opening gala of a new, larger Hotel Peabody, and hundreds more were turned away, as the $5 million project opened its doors for business on Union in downtown (the original opened in 1869). Those who constructed the hotel were honored at a banquet the night before (as seen above). At the grand opening, there was pomp and ceremony, an elaborate banquet and, as soon as the tables were cleared, dancing. But the reporter made it clear the building was the star.

No hotel south is considered the equal in architectural splendor of the new Peabody. The two elevations in approach to the main dining room might be entrances to the Palaisse Crimini on the Grand Canal in Venice. It is typical of the finest art of Venice’s fairest days, but where waters of the canal might wash were this hall in Venice, there is a step down into the foyer from which the guests thronged as the banquet began.

August 2, 1975

The buyer wasn’t immediately known — it wasn’t Prince Mongo! — but The Peabody was sold at auction for $400,000, its furnishings for $140,000 — far less than the $1 million-plus mortgage.

Lawyer Raymond M. Shainberg represented the winning bidder but wouldn’t reveal his client. We know now, of course, it was the lawyer’s cousins, developers Phillip and Jack Belz.

And the Mongo part...we weren’t joking. A barefooted Robert "Prince Mongo" Hodges, he of Zambodian fame, was the only other bidder, offering $100,000 before dropping out.

The Belz family reopened the hotel in 1981 after a $20 million renovation.

The Peabody Memphis
The Peabody Memphis