Field Guide: The old Blaisdell Hotel

This former hotel is bustling with activity from old and new businesses alike.



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Photo: rae huo

 


Photo: rae huo

 


Wai Ho Jewelry


With 28 years of experience, Amy Chung and her husband have built a reputation with their downtown customer base. “People make special trips to come here,” says Chung. The small shop specializes in diamond engagement rings, jade and other fine jewelry, including repairs and custom pieces. “We get a lot of young guys coming in,” she says. She works with couples’ budgets and personal tastes. “I get to work with many of them through their family cycle; it’s very rewarding.” 1160 Fort Street Mall, 538-6612.



Photo: rae huo

 


The old Blaisdell hotel Elevator


Upon walking into the old hotel, you immediately encounter Javier Fombellida, who has been running the state’s last manually operated elevator for seven years. “I get to meet so many interesting people,” says Fombellida, who says he’s made up to 200 trips in the elevator in one day. Fombellida has a knack for knowing what businesses first-timers are going to see, whether it’s the barber or the psychiatrist. “People really open up to me,” he says. He even decorates for holidays, with a mini Christmas tree and lights, or scares people with a fake, furry rat for Halloween.
 
  

 



Photo: rae huo

 


Fritz Andre



Fritz Andre has been cutting hair since he was 14. Now 78 years old, this old-time barber, trained in Germany, has been cutting in the old Blaisdell Hotel since 1971. He’s had the same clients for even longer. The day we visited, Andre was cutting the hair of Elliot Loden, a local attorney who’s been coming to Andre for decades. “He’s the best barber for downtown execs,” says Loden. Andre also witnessed the hotel’s transitions over the years, from fancy hotel to HPU-student hangout, to small businesses. If you happen to come in while Andre is cutting another customer’s hair, you can peruse a stack of Playboys and Hustlers. You won’t find that at Supercuts. 1154 Fort Street Mall, Suite 306, 255-3397.  

 Did You Know?

 

The Blaisdell Hotel, at a glance: Built in 1912 at 1154 Fort Street. Designed by  architects Emory & Webb. Cost to book a room in 1968—$5.75.

 

 

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