Virginia Beach Boardwalk History: The Cavalier Hotel
Since it’s inception in 1888, the Boardwalk has played a leading role in the evolution of Virginia Beach as one of the nations premiere resort cities. Along side the likes of the 1903 Life-Saving Station and the statue of “The Norwegian Lady”, the Historic Cavalier Hotel has helped define Boardwalk history while playing host to some of history’s most elite and formidable characters.
• Since the opening of the hotel in 1927, the “Cavalier on the Hill” has entertained seven US Presidents: Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon.
• In the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s The Cavalier Beach Club was a popular venue for big band greats that included Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Xavier Cugat, Cab Calloway, Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, and Bing Crosby to name but a few.
• F. Scott Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Will Rogers, Bette Davis, Jean Harlow, Mary Pickford, Betty Grable, Fatty Arbuckle, Hank Ketchum (IE – “Dennis the Menace”), and even a Nobel Peace Prize winner comprise a long and prestigious list of celebrities and personalities that have frequented The Cavalier since its’ early beginnings.
When examining the illustrious history of the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, one must take a moment to look beyond the glitz, glamour and spotlights of the past to reflect upon a proud chapter in our nations’ history; to remember those aspects of rich Boardwalk history born of sacrifice, the toils of war, and contributions made to the preservation of freedom. In that vein, the Cavalier Hotel wears a badge of honor. It was October 1942 when, in the heat of World War II that the United States Navy came to the Cavalier with a need much greater than fine dining, music and accommodations. It was then that the stables at the hotel were cleaned and converted to sailor’s living quarters, and the swimming pool was drained so that the floor could be utilized as a training facility for the Navy’s Radar Training School. Furthermore, the hotel chefs were retained by the Navy to feed trainees leaving servicemen in attendance at the school boasting that they ate better than any other naval personnel.
In 1973 the 11-story Cavalier Oceanfront Hotel was opened; the newly constructed Oceanfront accommodations were slated to replace the original “Cavalier on the Hill” entirely. Subsequently in 1974 a public auction took place that cleared the original establishment of all its’ contents. However, due to the overwhelming outcry of sentimental patrons of the historic Cavalier, the original structure was given new life and re-opened in 1976. The 1970’s brought President Gerald Ford as well as then Ambassador to China George Bush to The Cavalier to address the Virginia Bar Association, and President Jimmy Carter to speak before the Southern Baptist Convention.
The present day Cavalier, consisting of the original “Cavalier on the Hill” and the more recent Oceanfront, make for an impressive total of 400 guest rooms. The hotel features four fine restaurants, library, concierge service, children’s activities, a 1,500 square foot health club, numerous sport facilities that include two Olympic-size pools, and an endless array of luxury amenities that are bound to suite even the most distinguishing tastes.
Virginiabeach.com would like to formally welcome The Cavalier Hotel as its newest advertising partner, and to acknowledge the contribution that this iconic hotel has made to Virginia Beach, VA. We all look forward to working together as we maintain Virginia Beach’s reputation as a premier oceanfront resort area.