• 1691: Michael Isaac Speyer (1644–1692) becomes head of the Jewish community in Frankfurt. He came from the small town of Speyer (100 km south of Frankfurt). Over time the Speyers become a prominent jewish banker family in Frankfurt.
• 1818: Foundation of the Speyer-Elissen bank in Frankfurt Joseph Lazard Speyer (1783–1846) and his wife Jette Ellissen combine their respective banks the Speyer Bank and the Ellissen Bank.
• 1838: Lazard Joseph Speyer inherits the bank from his parents and renames it to Lazard Speyer-Ellissen.
• 1860: Birth of Edouard Beit, after his marriage Edouard Beit von Speyer (1860-1933).
• 1870: Birth of Hanna Lucie Speyer (1870–1930) (grandaughter of Lazard Joseph Speyer).
• 1901: Construction of a Villa Speyer for Eduard Beit von Speyer and his wife Hanna Luci Speyer. The architect Alfred Günter builds it in a gothic and historicist style. The building was inspired by the palatial style of the nearby Villa Liebieg, today a Museum.
At the time of the construction of the Villa, Edouard Beit von Speyer was among the ten wealthiest individuals in Imperial Germany. He was a partners of the Bank Lazard Speyer-Ellissen with subsidaries in London and New York. Like the Camondo, Ephrussi, Goldsmith, Mendelsson, Oppenheim, Rothschild, Warburg the Speyers were part of the important and very educated European families of Jewish financiers and philanthropists.
The Speyer family belonged to Frankfurt’s patrons and made considerable foundations to support science and scientific education. Their funds were so important that they provided the basis for the University of Frankfurt.
The Speyers among Germanies largest pre war fortunes
• 1910: The Speyer family is listed twice among the 20 largest fortunes in Prussia (northern Germany).
n°1 Mrs Bertha Krupp von Bohlen u. Halbach, Villa Hügel bei Essen – 187 mio RM (Reichsmark)
n°2 Prince Henckel von Donnersmarck, auf Schloß Neudeck, near Oppeln. – 177 mio RM
n°3 Prince Christian Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Oehringen, Schloß Slawentzitz, near Oppeln – 151 mio RM
n°4 Baron Max von Goldschmidt-Rothschild, Frankfurt am Main – 107 mio RM
n°5 Prince Hans-Heinrich XV von Pleß, auf Schloß Fürstenstein, near Breslau – 84 mio RM
n°6 Countess Johanna von Schaffgotsch – born Gryzik von Schomberg-Godulla, near Oppeln – 79 mio RM
n°7 Kommerzienrat Eduard Beit von Speyer, Villa Speyer (today Villa Kennedy), Frankfurt – 76 mio RM
n°8 Baronne Mathilde von Rothschild, Schloß Grüneburg, Frankfurt am Main – 76 mio RM
n°9 Count Franz-Hubert Tiele-Winkler, Schloß Moschen, near Oppeln – 74 mio RM
n°10 Duke Engelbert von Arenberg, Schloß Nordkirchen, near Münster – 59 mio RM
n°11 Count Franz von Ballestrem, auf Plawniowitz, near Oppeln – 56 mio RM
n°12 Mr August Thyssen, Schloß Landsberg near Kettwig – 55 mio RM
n°13 Mr Kommerzienrat Carl Henschel, in Firma Henschel & Sohn, Lokomotivenfabrik, Kassel – 49 mio RM
n°14 Mr Ziese, Lärchwalde bei Elbing, near Danzig – 47 mio RM
n°15 Mr Franz Haniel, Düsseldorf – 46 mio RM
n°16 Mrs Franziska von Speyer, born Gumbert (wife of Georg von Speyer), Frankfurt am Main – 45 mio RM
n°17 Mr Ernst von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Berlin – 43 mio RM
n°18 Mrs Adeline Böninger, born Haniel (sister of Franz Haniel), Duisburg – 42 mio RM
n°19 Mr Fritz von Friedländer-Fuld, Berlin – 40 mio RM
n°20 Mrs Margarete Alfred Krupp, born Baronne von Ende (mother of Berta Krupp), Villa Hügel near Essen – 40 mio RM
Note: the list does not include fortunes from Southern Germany, like the King of Bavaria or Prince Albert I von Thurn & Taxis which would have been in the top 3 of the list… in relation to hotel history see also Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Munich.
• 1938: The Villa was conficated by the Nazi regime and became property of the city of Frankfurt.
• 1945: During the war the villa was damaged but not destroyed.
• 1948: The Max-Planck-Institut for Biophysics mooved into the building.
• 1963: The Frankfurt Forsthausstrasse was renamened Kennedyallee following the assasination of President John F Kennedy. In the same year Kennedy had been on a state visit to Germany where he held the speech « Ich bin ein Berliner ». JFK has never been inside the Villa but his car drove by Forsthausstraße 62 (the original address of Villa Speyer) which became Kennedyallee 70.
The Villa becomes a Hotel
• 2000: The Frankfurt reals estate development firm FAY buys the property on 70 Kennedy Allee.
• 2003: The Greec architect Demetri Porphyrios transforms the Villa Speyer building into a Luxury Hotel. The gable which was damaged in the second world war is reconstructed, the last floor dating from after the war replaced by a new construction. The building finds again it’s entire beauty of the past in the style of the stylish Speyer family.
• 2005: Shortly before opening « Villa Speyer » is renamed « Villa Kennedy » in reference to President JFK and the Kennedyallee where the Grand Hotel is located.
History of the Rocco Forte Collection
• 1935: Charles Forte, an Italian immigrant to the UK, opens a « Milk Bar » on Regents street in London … the company becomes the Forte Hotel Group (Trusthouse Forte)
• 1993: the Forte Hotel group faces a hostile takeover bid from the Media Conglomerate Granada the founding family is ejected with a settlement payment of £350 million. Two of the 6 children, Rocco Forte and his younger sister Olga Polizzi decide to reinvent their fathers Hotel business.
• 1996 May: Sir Rocco Forte founds RF Hotels.
• 1997 February: Opening of Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh..
• 1997 December: Acquisition of Hotel Savoy in Florence.
• 1999 January: Acquisition of Hotel Astoria in St Petersburg.
• 2000 January: Acquisition of Hotel Amigo in Brussels.
• 2000 April: Opening of Hotel de Russie in Rome.
• 2003 July: Acquisition of Brown's Hotel in London.
• 2006 March: Opening of Ville Kennedy (Villa Speyer) in Frankfurt.
• 2006 October: Opening of Hotel de Rome (formally seat of Dresdner Bank) in Berlin.
• 2007: Rocco Forte Hotels are renamed Rocco Forte Collection
The list only mentions those hotels in the Rocco Forte Collection, which are historic places and which are listed on and on Grand Hotels of the World.com.
Article by « Grand Hotels of the World & VB.com », written from « Cremerie de Paris ».