Peabody Hotel

Peabody Hotel

Infobox hotel
hotel_name = The Peabody Hotel

image_width = 226
caption =
location = Memphis, Tennessee
coordinates = coord|35.142514|-90.051944|display=inline,title
opening_date = 1925
stars = 4
diamonds = 4
developer =
architect = Walter W. Ahlschlager
operator =
owner = [ Peabody Hotel Group]
number_of_restaurants = 7
number_of_rooms = 468
number_of_suites = 4
floor_area = convert|80000|sqft|m2|1
floors = 14
parking = 1000+
website =
footnotes =
Infobox nrhp
name =Peabody Hotel
nrhp_type =

caption =
location =149 Union Ave
Memphis, Tennessee
nearest_city =
lat_degrees =
lat_minutes =
lat_seconds =
lat_direction =
long_degrees =
long_minutes =
long_seconds =
long_direction =
area =
built =
architect =
architecture =
added = September 14, 1977
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
refnum = 77001290
mpsub =
governing_body =

The Peabody Hotel is a luxury hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The hotel is well known for the famous "Peabody Ducks" that live on the hotel rooftop, but which make daily treks to the hotel's lobby in a daily "March of Ducks" celebration.


The original Peabody Hotel was built by Robert Campbell Brinkley in 1869. Before it opened, Brinkley found out about the death of George Peabody. Out of respect for Peabody, who contributed much to the South, he named his new hotel "The Peabody". [ Peabody Hotel History] ]

This incarnation of the Peabody Hotel, located at the corner of Main and Monroe streets, was highly successful, but eventually closed in 1923. The current Peabody Hotel building, on Union Avenue, was built in 1925 to replace the original. Designed by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager, the Italian Renaissance building holds historical and cultural significance; [cite book
last = Faragher
first = Scott
coauthors = Katherine Harrington
title = The Peabody Hotel
publisher = Arcadia
date = 2002-11-18
isbn = 0738514535
] it has been said that the Mississippi Delta "begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel (in Memphis) and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg". [cite book
last = Cohn
first = David
authorlink = David Cohn
title = God Shakes Creation
publisher = Harper & Brothers
year = 1935
and cite journal
last = Schmidt
first = William E.
title = Memphis' Grand Hotel
journal = The New York Times
date = 1986-10-05
url =
accessdate = 2008-09-11

Prior to the mid-1960s, alcoholic beverages were sold in Tennessee only as sealed bottles in licensed liquor stores. The Hotel Peabody had a bar, "The Creel", for its patrons on those days. Patrons would bring a bottle, acquired elsewhere, into "The Creel", and the bartender would tag the bottle for later retrieval. The bartender would then mix drinks from the patron's bottle on request.

The Peabody again closed in the early 1970s, generally a era of urban blight for many American cities. The Jack Belz family purchased the hotel from the county in 1975 for $400,000 and spent the next several years and $25,000,000 renovating the landmark structure. The grand reopening in 1981 is widely considered in Memphis as a major stimulus and inspiration for the downtown revitalization that followed and still continues.

Similar Peabody Hotels are operated by the Peabody Hotel Group in Little Rock, Arkansas and Orlando, Florida. The Peabody Hotel Group Brand Management Division owns and operates properties under different brand names in Massachusetts, Tennessee, South Carolina and Arkansas.

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Peabody Ducks

The Peabody is probably best known around the world for a custom dating back to the 1930s. The General Manager of the time, Frank Schutt, had just returned from a weekend hunting trip in Arkansas. He and his friends found it amusing to leave their live decoy ducks in the hotel fountain. The guests loved the idea, and since then, ducks have played in the fountain every day.

In 1940, a Bellman by the name of Edward Pembroke volunteered to care for the ducks. Pembroke was given the position of "Duckmaster" and served in that position until 1991. As a former circus animal trainer, he taught the ducks to march into the hotel lobby, which started the famous Peabody Duck March. Every day at 11:00 a.m., the Peabody Ducks are escorted from their penthouse home, on the Plantation Roof, to the lobby via elevator. The ducks, accompanied by the King Cotton March by John Phillip Sousa, then proceed across a red carpet to the hotel fountain, made of a solid block of Italian travertine marble. The ducks are then ceremoniously led back to their penthouse at 5:00 p.m. [ [ The Peabody Ducks] ]

Over the years, The Peabody Ducks have gained celebrity status with television appearances (along with their Duckmaster) on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Sesame Street, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. They have also appeared in People magazine. Peabody Press Release: [ New Duckmaster Takes the Lead at the Peabody Memphis] - May 14, 2007]

The position of "Duckmaster" at the Peabody Memphis is one of only three such positions in the world, the other two being the Duckmasters in the Orlando and Little Rock Peabody Hotels. Celebrities have also assumed the role of Assistant Duckmaster from time to time, including Paula Deen, Joan Collins, Molly Ringwald, Kevin Bacon, Emeril Lagasse, Patrick Swayze, Queen Noor of Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, and Gayle King.

Design features

The Peabody Hotel's most recognizable features are large red neon "The Peabody" signs atop the Skyway Ballroom and the central elevator shaft.

The top floor, the Skyway, contains a lounge/bar area, ballroom, and Plantation Roof, which offers stunning views of the surrounding Memphis skyscrapers. The rooftop is often used as a space for bands and other musical acts, especially during the Thursday night "Rooftop Parties" in the summer months. [ [ Peabody Rooftop Parties Schedule] ]

In the elevators, to access the top floor, one must press "S". If this floor was numbered, one would press "13" to reach it, but due to superstitions regarding the number thirteen, management decided to call the top floor "the Skyway."


During the Big Band era, the Skyway was the place to be at night. The ballroom was one of only a handful of sites in America that CBS broadcast live from weekly. Regular headliners included Tommy Dorsey and the Andrews Sisters. Today, the Skyway is known throughout Memphis for its legendary Skyway Sunday Brunch with champagne served promptly at 12 noon.

Hotel Floor Layout

13 (S) - The Plantation Roof, Duck Palace, The Skyway Ballroom, The Penthouse

12 - The Peabody Club, The Presidential Suite, Club Guest Rooms, Celebrity Suites, Peabody Suites, Executive Suites

11 - Guest Rooms, Romeo and Juliet Suites, Executive Suites

10 through 4 - Guest Rooms

03 - The Peabody Executive Conference Center

02 (M) - Mezzanine Level, The Peabody Grand Ballroom, Venetian Room, Continental Ballroom, Louis XVI Room, Forest Room, Hernando DeSoto Room, The Tennessee Exhibit Hall, The Peabody Memorabilia Room, Francis Scott Key Piano, Business Center, Hotel Kitchens, Banquet Offices

01 (L) - The Grand Lobby, Chez Phillippe, Cappriccio Grill, The Lobby Bar, The Corner Bar, Peabody Deli and Desserts, The Grand Galleria of Shops, Guest Registration, Valet, Concierge, Bell Stand

LL - Lower Level (Basement), Administrative Offices, Gould's Day Spa and Salon, Peabody Athletic Club, Shoeshine Parlor, Hotel Pool


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Peabody Hotel Group]
* [ Interview with Assistant Duck Master]

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