Little Rock's eight-story Marion Hotel was the tallest building in Arkansas from 1907 and 1911. The hotel became famous for its raucous biennial Arkansas legislative committee meetings and drinking sessions held in its conference rooms and corridors.
Jewish businessman Herman Kahn broke ground on the Marion Hotel in 1905. Kahn had moved to Little Rock from Frankfurt, Germany in 1870. The hotel bore the famous nickname "The Meeting Place of Arkansas." The Marion Hotel had five hundred rooms, a marble fish pond in the main lobby, green carpets, and green leather couches. The bellboys also wore green twill uniforms. The hotel is named after Kahn's wife.
On June 10th, 1949, President Harry S. Truman addressed a crowd in the hotel celebrating a reunion of the 35th Infantry Division Association. Said Truman on the occasion, "Governor McMath, members of the 35th Division organization, and distinguished members of the Arkansas delegation in Congress: It is a pleasure for me to be here this afternoon. I made an arrangement with the arrangements committee to see all of you and to shake hands with you by proxy. So, if all of you will shake hands with your next-door neighbor, I will shake hands up here. Last year, when we were in the White House, Mrs. Truman shook hands with 50,000 people. I shook hands with 25,000. On this short campaign which I took over the country, I shook hands with about, I'd say, 200,000 people altogether during the whole period. This right arm of mine has to sign documents officially - no matter whether I am in Washington or here - at the rate of an average of 600 a day. So I have to protect it just a little bit. I am not refusing to shake hands with you, but if it continues the time may come when the President may not be able to sign his mail. Then what will happen to the country! None of you will get paid, for one thing! It has been a privilege for me to have the opportunity to come down here. The fact that you are having this on a weekend has given all the Members of Congress from Arkansas a chance to come down and be with you. I don't think that red-headed cousin of mine will believe this, but I don't think I have missed a meeting of the 35th Division Reunion since the First World War, with possibly one exception. I didn't want to miss this one, particularly because it was in Little Rock. I have had some wonderful times here. I remember one time, in the Marion Hotel, it was my privilege to be the guest of Mrs. Caraway, when she was running for reelection; and I never had so much fun in my life as I did then. And Mrs. Caraway, who is still in Washington, enjoyed herself immensely. You have two wonderful Senators from Arkansas, and you have the delegation from the Congress. I hope we will have the usual good time, and that everybody will go home without a headache."
The Marion Hotel was owned by the Southwest Hotels chain in the late 1960s. Southwest Hotels also owned the Albert Pike Hotel, the Lafayette Hotel, and the Grady Manning Hotel. The Marion Hotel closed in 1980, and was demolished on February 17, 1980, to make way for the construction of the Statehouse Convention Center.
- "Bigger Taller, Costlier: Landmark Buildings Outdo Each Other," Arkansas Business, December 27, 1999.