The Lexington Hotel was a typical example of Atlantic City’s early grand hotels, which also met a typical fate. Located at Arkansas and Pacific Avenues, the Lexington supplanted two earlier guest cottages which had existed at the site, the Constitution and the Alvin House. Its earliest structure was made out of wood, but as concerns of fire grew, it like many other hotels constructed a new building of fireproof brick. The brick Lexington opened in 1911, boasting of what was then first-class accommodations and services, like private baths in 150 out of its 250 guest rooms. The hotel also operated a farm ten miles inland to supply its kitchens. In 1933, city Building Superintendent James W. Peterson was motivated by safety concerns to clean up or demolish “doubtful buildings” in Atlantic City. As a result of the Peterson Decree, the Lexington was one of 150 older, fire-prone or structurally unsound hotels that met the wrecking ball that year. Later, a Howard Johnson’s Hotel and Motel was built on the site, and when casino gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, the structure was converted into Caesars Boardwalk Regency. Although it has been expanded several times in years since, portions of the Howard Johnson’s building still remain within the Caesars complex.  H.LHSF.Hotels.Lexington001
 H084.Caesars001  The Lexington Hotel advertises its new renovations in a 1911 brochure.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.LHSF.Hotels.Lexington001.
 Howard Johnson's repurposed as Caesar's Boardwalk Regency casino in 1981.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Caesars001.
 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Hotel Brochures – Heston Coll. 647.94

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 The Liberty Hotel is one of the few relics of Atlantic City’s old Northside community that is still standing today. Located at 1519 Baltic Avenue, the Liberty was opened in the early 1930s and proclaimed itself as “the most modern and best equipped hotel for colored people in the East.” It was originally managed by President Thomas Taylor, Vice President Charles Tilton, and Secretary-Treasurer William Zimmer, who went on to become the hotel’s manager until 1946. Due to its proximity to Kentucky Avenue, which was a thriving scene of Black businesses and entertainment, many Black performers and celebrities stayed at the Liberty in its heyday. The building continued to operate as a hotel until 1983, when it was converted into an apartment building. The Liberty Apartments still operate today. H084.Liberty001 
   An undated postcard for the Liberty Hotel.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Liberty001.
   

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

H084 Postcard Collections
“Northside Businesses,” staff research
H097 Oral History Project – interview with Jackie Bass Pinkney

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The Madison Hotel, named after US President James Madison and his wife Dolley, was built in 1930 and is still standing today. The hotel, situated on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard between Pacific Avenue and the Boardwalk, is 14 stories tall and originally contained 250 rooms. The hotel’s architects were William Walton and Walter Price, the brother of William Price, who designed the Marlborough-Blenheim and Traymore hotels. Among other historic features, the Madison features a marble staircase modeled after one in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. A survivor while many hotels around it fell to the wrecking ball, the Madison thrived into the casino era, thanks to a deal with the adjacent Sands casino. The Sands invested $7 million into the Madison to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast style boutique hotel, transforming its 250 rooms into 126 mini suites. The Madison was connected to the Sands and offered a unique hotel experience to its guests. When the Sands was bought out by Pinnacle Entertainment and closed in 2006, the Madison was closed as well. While the Sands and several other neighboring buildings were demolished as part of plans for a new mega-casino, the Madison managed to remain standing. During its closure, it was used as corporate offices for Pinnacle, as well as housing for foreign exchange students working in Atlantic City. When the Pinnacle project faltered, the Madison was auctioned off with the hopes of becoming a hotel again. In early 2014, it reopened as the Baymont Inn & Suites, Atlantic City Madison Hotel.  H.LHSF.Hotels.Madison001
 madison  An illustration of the Madison Hotel taken from an undated brochure.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.LHSF.Hotels.Madison001.
 The Madison, as seen from Brighton Park in December 2014.  

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

City Directories
Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Local History Subject Files – Sands Casino

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The Mansion House, at Pennsylvania and Atlantic Avenues, was one of Atlantic City’s original hotels, built in 1853 by sisters Lizzie, May, Sallie, and Julia Lee. When the city was incorporated the following year, the Mansion House was ready for the influx of visitors to the seashore that soon followed. The first Western Union office in the city was established within the hotel, and the Atlantic City telegraph call letters remained "MH" for over a hundred years. The business continued to be operated by the Lee sisters until sometime in the 1870s, when ownership was transferred first to Obermyer & Grinn, and then to Charles McGlade in 1881. By this time, the Boardwalk had drawn attention in the resort decidedly further towards the beach, and the resort’s original hotels on the once-bustling Atlantic Avenue suffered. Alfred Heston reported in his Annals of Atlantic City that McGlade “put up a plucky fight” against Boardwalk attractions and newer hotels, spending considerable sums to update the Mansion House’s facilities and rebrand it as the New Mansion House. Despite these efforts, however, the hotel could not succeed in the resort’s changed environment. It was purchased by the Atlantic City National Bank in 1899 and demolished. However, a reminder of its presence exists today in the form of Mansion Avenue.  H009.388.409Atl2113 
 H.Bk.974.985Eng.70  This early illustration of Atlantic City shows the Mansion House in the foreground on right. The large building in the background is the United States Hotel.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H009.388.409Atl2113.
 This illustration shows a drastically expanded and upgraded Mansion House, circa 1880s.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.Bk.974.985Eng.70.
 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
City Directories
“Annals of Absegami, Vol. 2” Heston Coll.
974.984Hes
“Book of the Boardwalk,” Heston Coll. 974.985But

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This famous hotel complex of Atlantic City yesteryear was named after England’s Marlborough House and Blenheim Castle. Josiah White III, after successfully managing the Luray Hotel for almost 20 years, decided to build a new hotel on a site at Ohio Avenue he had purchased from the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Here White built the Queen Anne style wooden Marlborough in 1902. In 1905, when the neighboring Children’s Seashore House moved to a new location further downbeach, the Atlantic City Press announced the construction of the Blenheim. The new hotel would be completely fireproof, using “brick, treated with plaster and Moravian tile, steel, and hollow tile reinforced with concrete.” The Reinforced Concrete was a revolutionary construction for its time, developed by inventor Thomas Edison. Edison reportedly oversaw the building process, claiming it was “the construction of the future.” In 1906, the new Spanish-Moorish style Blenheim Hotel was completed. The White family operated the Marlborough-Blenheim for its entire tenure, witnessing its evolution from a posh vacation spot for celebrities and well-to-do guests, through its time as a military facility during World War II, up to its reputation during Atlantic City’s less successful days as the home of “the newly wed and the nearly dead.” In 1977, Bally’s closed the complex after purchasing it as a site for a new hotel and casino resort. The outdated design of both hotels – including the fact that there weren’t bathrooms in every guest room in the Marlborough – accompanied by the complex’s extensive deterioration and exorbitant repair cost, led Bally’s to demolish the entire structure. The decision was met with outcry from many longtime guests of the Marlborough-Blenheim, including one woman who traveled 600 miles to protest the razing of the hotel she had stayed in since its opening. Despite getting the Blenheim rotunda listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the protests could not overcome the fact that the rotunda was structurally unsound. It was the last piece of the Marlborough-Blenheim to be demolished, being imploded on January 4, 1979. It recent years, the Blenheim has gained newfound recognition as the basis for the design of the fictional Ritz-Carlton Hotel in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire  H049.647.94Mar299c.1
 

 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Local History Subject Files – Bally’s Hotel Casino
Hotel Brochures – Heston Coll. 647.94

 A 1925 postcard showing the Marlborough (red building in foreground) and Blenheim Hotels.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H049.647.94Mar229c.1.

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