Fairmont to celebrate centennial 

The luxurious Fairmont Hotel, the reported venue for Tony Bennett’s first performance of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," will host a Saturday celebration of its centennial anniversary.

The 591-room luxury hotel on Mason Street, whose centennial anniversary falls on Wednesday, is preparing for a huge toast from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday in which complimentary champagne and cake will precede guided tours of the luxurious building.

"It could be thousands of people," said hotel spokeswoman Samra Diapoulos. "We’ll have enough champagne."

The toast is one of several events this month that will celebrate the hotel’s landmark. The storied hotel history has been visited by several presidents, such as Teddy Roosevelt, and hosted the signing of the United Nations charter in 1945. Legendary performers such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles have graced its Venetian Room.

Its centennial celebration probably would have happened last year had it not been for the 1906 earthquake, which decimated the interior. The Fairmont opened exactly a year later with a huge bash that featured 600 pounds of turtles, 13,000 oysters and $5,000 worth of wine.

"It was a real sense of civic pride and it symbolized the re-birth of San Francisco," Diapoulos said.

At that time, room rates were $2 to $5 a night, a bargain compared to today’s rate of $279.

The hotel became a center of boisterous social gatherings and parties. Printed on the Virtual Museum of the city of San Francisco’s Web site, a 1931 article in "Broadcast Weekly" profiled Rudy Seiger, one of the hotel’s first orchestra leaders.

"He has been pretty much a part of the Fairmont Hotel since 1907 when he registered there with his fiddle for the first time," the article said.

Reservations

» To reserve a guided tour and participate in the Champagne toast, call (415) 772-5175.

» For information on more events throughout the month, call (415) 772-5260.

bfoley@examiner.com

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