Filed Under Architecture

Alcazar Hotel

St. Augustine on the Heights

The Alcazar Hotel was built in the Spanish-Moorish style in 1923 and mimicked the architecture of two hotels in St. Augustine, Florida. The Alcazar (which translates as "home in a fortress") is built in the shape of an irregular pentagon, and features a central courtyard which centers on a circular fountain that is a replica of the one at the Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine. Its stunning interior features a goldfish pond surrounded by a large hexagonal lounge adorned with colorful mosaic tiles. Cleveland architect Harry T. Jeffrey designed the hotel, which took nearly two years to construct at and cost over $2 million.

The Alcazar was one of the Cleveland area's grandest residential apartment hotels and among the first such buildings in the suburbs. The hotel owners appealed to wealthy Clevelanders in a 1923 advertisement by asking, "The new Alcazar hotel provides an economical home for those wishing to be relieved of housekeeping and servant problems... Why keep house when you can secure homelike accommodations at a much lower cost?" The hotel appealed not only to upper-class couples and families, but also to celebrities, attracting the likes of George Gershwin, Jack Benny, Cole Porter, Bob Hope, and other popular entertainers. Its restaurant and cocktail lounge drew the city's social elite as well as visiting VIPs, and its grand ballroom and courtyard were the site of a number of weddings and lavish events.

By the late 1950s, however, the building was falling into disrepair, and big houses in the area's growing suburbs attracted wealthy families who might have otherwise lived at places like the Alcazar. In 1963, Christian Scientists purchased the Alcazar for use as a retirement home for members of their faith. They soon opened up the hotel to the elderly of all faiths, and today the Alcazar remains primarily a place for seniors, though a few suites are used for corporate housing and by regular hotel guests. Special events are still held there as well, and the building has benefited from improved upkeep which helps maintain its charm and elegant appeal. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.


Childhood Mischief at the Alcazar Barrett Brown talks about the kind of trouble he and his friends would get into while hanging out at the Alcazar. Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities


Alcazar, ca. 1930
Alcazar, ca. 1930 A motor coach owned by the Alcazar sits in front of the hotel. Source: Cleveland Heights Historical Society
The Inspiration for the Alcazar
The Inspiration for the Alcazar In 1888, Henry Flagler opened the Alcazar Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida, as one of two grand Spanish Revival–style hotels in the Atlantic beachfront city. The original Alcazar, whose Arabic name means castle, inspired the hotel of the same name in Cleveland Heights. Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Creator: Detroit Publishing Company Date: ca. 1902
Main Entrance
Main Entrance The main entrance to the Alcazar Hotel, with a Spanish expression that essentially invites visitors to feel that they are at home. Source: Center for Public History + Digital Humanities Date: 2011
Postcard An exterior view of the Alcazar Hotel not long after its opening in 1923. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Alcazar Lounge
Alcazar Lounge This postcard shows the main lounge of the Alcazar Hotel. A goldfish pond holds the center spot of the room. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections Creator: Braun Postcard Co. Date: ca. 1920s
Courtyard, ca. 1960s
Courtyard, ca. 1960s This postcard of the center courtyard at the Alcazar Hotel appears to be from after the hotel had been sold and turned into a retirement home for seniors. The circular fountain at the center of the image is a replica of one which sits at the Hotel Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine, Florida. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections
Courtyard, ca. 1925
Courtyard, ca. 1925 This postcard shows the courtyard, or "patio," at the Alcazar Hotel. Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections


2450 Derbyshire Rd, Cleveland Heights, OH 44106 | Private residences


Michael Rotman, “Alcazar Hotel,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 13, 2024,