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The Hawaiian Century Room, Dallas, TX (restaurant)

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Name:The Hawaiian Century Room
Street:1321 Commerce St
Phone:(214) 742-8200

The Hawaiian Century Room was in the Adolphus Hotel, which (the hotel) is still operational. The room is now called "The French Room". http://www.hoteladolphus.com/adolphus_dining.aspx

All other info is unknown and would appreciate any input, stories, or photos.


The “Hawaiian” Century Room, one of the restaurants located in the historic Adolphus Hotel, was the brainchild of Adolphus Hotel manager H. Fuller Stevens.

By 1940, Hawaiian themed dinner shows were becoming more popular and successful, as could be seen by the successes at other exclusive restaurants like the Mural Room at the Baker Hotel in Dallas. The Century Room, which had opened in 1936, even went Hawaiian for a brief period in 1938 to help showcase a Hawaiian band that was in town. Hawaiian music was extremely popular, and it seemed that the tropical theme was becoming more popular with the classy dinner crowds anxious for a something new and different. But their BIG attraction was the ice shows. The Century Room had a retractable 20’ X 24’ ice rink used for touring ice revues…another attraction just about at the height of its popularity. When not in use it was retracted and the area used as a dance floor. But ice shows in a Hawaiian themed restaurant? It didn’t matter to H. Fuller Stevens whose motto was, according to the local paper, “Don’t allow facts to interfere too much with a good bit of showmanship.”

September 25, 1940, the Century Room closed for renovations. When they reopened on Oct. 4th, the old motif (called “Polar Bear”) was gone and in it’s place was sunny Hawaii. From the Dallas News:

“Murals and paintings by Virgil Quadri, Spanish artist, will be the central decoration theme. Around them will be built a genuine Hawaiian setting or extensive scope by Oscar Nordstrom, Chicago architect and interior decorator. Twelve miles of bamboo and native bark will be used to dress the room’s walls. There will be fourteen palm trees, with cocoanuts too, and the ceiling will be treated as to reflect a sky scene with twinkling stars.

“The Quadri mural which will flank the bandstand will depict typical Hawaiian scenes – volcanoes, mountains, ocean and beaches. Then as a highlight, mechanical devices will be linked with the murals to provide actual storm scenes, with thunder, lightning and rain.”

A very poor quality scan from the Dallas News archives . This is the ONLY picture I could locate of the “mechanical” mural. You can make out the ocean scene and the bamboo on the wall.

“Another unusual feature will be the construction of three typical native huts accommodating twenty-five, twelve and ten persons, respectively. These will be reserved for private parties.”

Throughout the 40’s, touring ice revues and big bands frequented the very exclusive Century Room. Quite often, Hawaiian bands were brought over from Hawaii as well as native dancers, not to mention Hawaiian themed ice shows. Who wouldn’t have loved to watch “Lovely Hula Hands” on ICE!!

Jugglers, magicians & ballet dancers all made appearances at the Century Room, before, after and during its years with the Hawaiian theme. Ice reviews included frequent stops by touring acts like The Brandt Sisters and Frenchy Herbert.

Then, as quickly as it started, it was over. On December 8th, 1948, this blurb appeared in the news: “It is understood that the Hotel Adolphus will close the Century Room on Jan. 6 for about 10 days, during which time a complete redecoration job will be done in the room. When the new décor goes on view, the century room will reopen with a new edition of the ice review.”

So then, what DID the Century Room look like during the Hawaiian years? There are plenty of postcards, but none of which I would say show the room with the Hawaiian theme…

First, this postcard is dated 1938 and shows what was probably known as the “Polar Bear” motif. The ice is retracted showing the dance floor underneath.

Then there’s THIS postcard. Every example I’ve seen of this postcard is dated between 1941 and 1948 when the room DID have a Hawaiian theme, but I’d hardly call this décor Hawaiian. The ice is clearly visible.

Even tinted horribly, there’s enough detail to show that there is no bamboo, no palm trees, and no scenic Hawaiian murals. If I had to guess I’d say it looked more Native American. However, this apparently was the postcard that one could purchase there during that time. Very strange.

Then there’s this undated postcard:

YUCK! The lamp hanging above the dance floor is cool, and based on that alone this is probably the look of the Century Room in the late 50’s / early 60’s, but that’s just a guess.

Here’s a view from the dance floor from 1951. Hawaiian décor is long gone.

Then, there’s the infamous matchbook. The artwork from this has been copied countless times. If it weren’t for this matchbook, we might not have ever known that the Century Room went Hawaiian for 8 years.

In 2001, Chronicle Books published a collection of postcards called “Hula Honeys.” One of the postcards is the matchbook from the Hawaiian Century Room, complete with staple holes.

Here’s an ad for the Adolphus which mentions the “famous’ Hawaiian Century Room. The Century Room was located on the bottom floor of the building on the far left.

The Adolphus is still standing, but where the Century Room was is now a parking garage.

[ Edited by: Kenike 2010-08-31 16:09 ]



Awesome Job again Dennis!!

Indeed, as fine an example of urban archeology as there can be. Maybe a postcard will surface, or a card was never produced during those 8 years...or the place never went all the way, the PR seems to have been talking about what was planned, and we don't know what was actually realized.


I came across this in a Feb 1944 American Restaurant Industry Magazine. A double page ad for Chase and Sanborn Coffee, with a nice shot of the Hawaiian Century Room in the Adolphus Hotel. Pretty sweet....tropical rain storm? What a great idea...

Kenike posted on Thu, Aug 6, 2009 7:53 PM

On 2009-07-29 13:12, Or Got Rum? wrote:
I came across this in a Feb 1944 American Restaurant Industry Magazine. A double page ad for Chase and Sanborn Coffee, with a nice shot of the Hawaiian Century Room in the Adolphus Hotel. Pretty sweet....tropical rain storm? What a great idea...

Great find!

That decor isn't too far off from what we see on this postcard:

The tablecloths are different and so is the carpeting, but the postcard is obviously tinted and retouched. At least now we have an idea of what the Century Room
really looked like during the Hawaiian years.

I have to say I'm a bit disappointed..."every detail of the Hawaiian Century Room points up the South Seas atmosphere.." Hardly...the picture makes it look kind of boring and drab.

I acquired this table card from the Hotel Apolphus that advertised the " Hello Hawaii Revue" from the recent Worlds Fair. I am assuming this would have been the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962. This would have been after the Hawaiian Century Room and shows some connection to the old days.



Well, here's a hotel's "Hawaiian" room that was
going to have a thunderstorm feature, a la the
Tonga Room in San Francisco and The Tropics
in Kansas City. No indication that this actually
happened, though. Seems doubtful, because
all the photos of the room in its Hawaiian phase
show no place the thnderstorming might have
taken place.

Here's a photo I just found of my grandparents (on the left) in The Century Room of the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. It was taken in 1943. I read that that was the small widow of the tiki room era. Not too much tiki to see here, but the photo is nice. The photo was in an orange folder provided by the Adolphus with a sketch of a dancing couple on it.


Portland, OR

[ Edited by: TommyChiffon 2013-01-04 17:11 ]

This nice menu was on ebay a while back.

It provides a rich history from the Hawaiian Room.

The entertainment at the time.

The history of rum - AND Zombies!

Nice illustration on the back.

You could get a bottle for in-house or to-go!


Another menu posted on eBay. It is from 1943.

On the Adolphus website:



This was not the first time Hawaiian culture made an appearance at The Adolphus. In the 1940s, The Century Room was completely renovated to fully embrace the culture. The redesigned space included tropical murals, live palm trees, and island huts.

You can see a ceramic tiki in the upper left hand corner.

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