The founding mothers of the Hotel Figueroa would be proud. The downtown L.A. landmark opened in 1926 as a women’s hostel, six years after ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Now, the hotel joins Dodger Stadium, the Pantages Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, the Magic Castle and hundreds of other places that are opening their doors as polling places for the 2020 presidential election.
Large venues where voters can spread out and vote during the COVID-19 pandemic were sought after this year. The Hotel Figueroa offered to help make an important connection to the community and to the mission of its founders, said hotel manager Connie Wang. “It was such a historic moment for a group of women to be in real estate investment,” she said. “Even in 2020, that’s still unfortunately rare.”
In-person voting starts at 10 a.m. Friday in the Gran Sala ballroom, where voters can social distance and see some of the hotel’s original architecture. Any L.A. County voter can show up between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday through Monday, and 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, election day. Voters also will receive the hotel’s custom “I Voted” stickers featuring a yellow rose and the year of its founding.
The hotel opened as a YWCA to provide a safe haven for solo female travelers. Its founders hosted women’s clubs and salons, and the hotel quickly became known as a place for political discussions. The L.A. Times reported on Aug. 15, 1926: “The new hotel is said to be the largest project of its kind to be built, financed, owned and operated by women.” The price tag was $1.25 million, a fortune at the time.
New owners reopened the hotel in 2018 after a careful four-year renovation. The original Spanish Colonial style, with pillars and terracotta tiles, was later overlaid with a Moroccan motif. Both styles endure.
Wang said she was moved to act “to honor what the founders did and bring it to the modern day to say, ‘How can we be of service during this time?'”
The hotel is open to guests (rooms start at $159 on election day, according to the website). The pool-side Veranda Al Fresco will be open from noon to 9 p.m. for “contactless dining and to-go.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.