Saturday, February 7, 2015



Charleston, South Carolina (JFK+50) Ninety-one years ago today, February 7, 1924, the Francis Marion Hotel here in Charleston officially opened for business.

The hotel, built at a cost of $1.5 million and named in honor of American Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, was built by New York architect W. L. Stoddard.

A full page advertisement appeared in  The News and Courier on February 7, 1924.  A copy is proudly displayed today on a wall in the hotel.  It reads...


Such a splendid building is a tribute to Charleston's progress.  It is in keeping with the city's best traditions.  It signifies Charleston's entrance upon a new era of development.

Charleston's future was never brighter.  There is needed only a full measure of energy and cooperation on the part of the entire community.

The banks are prepared to do their part now and in the future in advancing Charleston's ambition to claim her rightful place as the great South Atlantic seaport...

Today's twelve story Francis Marion was remodeled in 1996 with a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The hotel, which offers 226 guestrooms and suites, has a ground-floor restaurant named "The Swamp Fox."

The News and Courier
February 7, 1924
Photo by John White (2015)
Francis Marion Hotel Lobby

John F. Kennedy's ties to the city of Charleston began when he was an Ensign in the United States Navy.  First assigned to a desk job in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C., Jack was transferred 400 miles away to the US Naval Base at Charleston, SC.

Apparently he was not all that pleased with the transfer because he was interested in, according to Chris Matthews, "getting to the front."

According to, JFK stayed at the Fort Sumter Hotel with his girlfriend, Inga Arvad**, in early February 1942.  Arvad checked in to the Battery hotel under the alias Barbara White.

On February 20, 1942, Jack arranged for Inga to stay at the Francis Marion Hotel under the name Barbara Smith, but by early March their romantic relationship had ended.


"Daily JFK, the Life and Times of John F. Kennedy,"

"Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero," by Chris Matthews, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2011.

The News and Courier, Charleston, South Carolina, February 7, 1924.

*Francis Marion (1732-1795) was born in Berkeley County, SC.  He began his military career at the age of 25.

During the revolution, Francis Marion was called the "swamp fox" because of his unique ability to disappear in the swamps after successful raids against the British.  

After the war, Francis Marion was elected to the South Carolina State Senate and served from 1782 to 1790.

**Inga Arvad (1913-1973) was a Danish journalist who attended the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin with Adolf Hitler and was investigated by the FBI as a possible spy.  She met JFK while working with his sister, Kathleen, in Washington, D.C.

Divorced from her first husband, Paul Fejos, in June 1942, she married actor Tim McCoy in 1946.  Arvad became an American citizen and died of cancer in Arizona.