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United States


Peabody Hotel



One of the premier hotels in Memphis, the Peabody Hotel was constructed in 1925 to replace the original hotel built in 1869.  Following refurbishment in the late 1970s it consisted of 13 floors. It is most renowned for its ducks which parade down from the 13th floor to the ground floor fountain every day, where they spend the day and then parade up again to their accommodation each evening.


Located on Union Avenue in Downtown Memphis, the Peabody Hotel was built in Italian Renaissance architectural style in 1925. This replaced the previous building situated one block away from the current one. Built in 1869, it contained 75 guest rooms and was named in honour of George Peabody, a friend of the owner Robert Cambell Brinkley.  It closed and was demolished in 1923 prior to the construction of the current building.

In 1953, due to economic and financial problems, the hotel was sold to the Alsonett Hotel Group. In 1965 it went into bankruptcy and the hotel was sold to Sheraton Hotels and became the Sheraton-Peabody Hotel. 

The economic situation did not improve and in December 1973 the hotel was forced to close.  It was purchased by an investment company in 1974, but in 1975 it went bankrupt and closed once again.  The hotel was purchased in July 1975 and over the next few years it was renovated and opened in 1981.

Consisting of 13 floors it has a floor area of 7,430 square metres (80,000 square feet) and contains 464 guest rooms and 69 suites.


The Peabody Hotel's most recognizable feature is the large red neon "The Peabody" signs on top of the building (See main photograph above).

The hotel's lavish interior contains many shops selling a selection of items.


The top floor, the Skyway, and Rooftop, provides views over the city of Memphis and the Mississippi River. The rooftop is used for private functions and is often used for bands and other musical acts at one time was used by the CBS radio network which would broadcast live weekly programs.  


The thing that the Peabody is renowned for is the ducks, who are accommodated in the "Duck Palace”, which is located on the rooftop. This was constructed at a cost of approximately $200,000 and consists of a 24 by 12-foot enclosure featuring granite flooring, ceiling fans, a scale replica of the hotel, a fountain decorated with a pair of bronze ducks, and a large viewing window for guests. This was unveiled on December 3, 2008. 

Each day at 11 am the ducks are brought down to the hotel fountain which is situated in front of the hotel reception, there they remain throughout the day.  


In the evening at 5 pm, they are returned to the "Duck Palace".  


This tradition is said to have started in 1933 following a hunting trip when Frank Schutt, the General Manager at the time, returned from a weekend hunting trip and left three ducks in the hotel fountain, something that the guests loved. This started the hotel to allow five ducks to be in the fountain each day. However, it has been suggested that this started many years before as a pre-1915 postcard showed the ducks playing in the fountain, and one claim suggests the custom goes back to the hotel's opening in 1869.

In 1940, Edward Pembroke, a bellman at the hotel volunteered to care for the ducks and he was given the title of "Duckmaster", a position he held 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.  It has now become an attraction where the ducks proceed along a red carpet to and from the elevator to the King Cotton March.

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              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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