Today, freshly sharpened skate blades clatter over the wooden floor of the Kulm Country Club, leaving long furrowed marks on the floor of this historic club building. At this spot on 11 February 1928, top athletes and celebrities gathered, including the silent film legend Charlie Chaplin and US President Calvin Coolidge. They discussed the first visit of a serving US president to Cuba while watching the tumult in front of the pavilion from the finely carved arched windows. These beautifully carved windows are still as attractive today following the recent renovations to this architectural gem. “Wherever possible, we’ve preserved the original Art Deco and wood. Where necessary, we had the windows and doors custom-built, true to the original”, explains architect Andy Küchel.
The intoxicating effect of the Olympic Winter Games
One floor down, on the ground floor, is the heart of the Kulm Country Club. On that Saturday in1928, guests, locals, and athletes stomped through the large circular arch in the entrance area with their soaked shoes, pushing up the wooden steps of the imposing staircase. Architect Rolf Som considers this his personal highlight: "Since the renovation, the original entrance area once again exudes the same lively excitement as it did almost 90 years ago during the first Olympic Winter Games."
The Golden Twenties
The 1928 Winter Games were the first official Olympic Winter Games. Visitors were proud to arrive in in St. Moritz driving their new Bugatti Royale or Mercedes-Benz Type S: the superlative hand-built vehicles of the 1920s. When it came to clothes, the emphasis was also on luxury. Inspired by fashion designer Coco Chanel, the ladies confidently strolled along by the Kulm ice pavilion wearing loose silk dresses embellished with rhinestones, sequins, and lace, all hidden under thick fur coats.
Long pearl necklaces and headdresses that were richly decorated with feathers and precious stones, topped off the extravagant appearance. This new confidence and sense of emancipation among the women was also reflected in their androgynous hairstyles such as the bob or finger waves. And as the men puffed cigars, the ladies smoked their cigarettes.
Meeting place ice rink
The Kulm Country Club was the headquarters of the figure skaters during the 1928 and 1948 Olympic Games. Skating to the song “Corinne, Corrine”, the1928 Bo Carter US hit or accompanied by a small orchestras, the athletes practiced on the ice rink in front of today's heritage building. The ice rink soon became a landmark meeting point both for guests and locals in St. Moritz. Those who did not dare to put on ice skates watched the Norwegian figure skaters Sonja Henie and Gillis Grafström – the social highlight at the winter sports resort that year.