The Shelburne was one of Atlantic City’s earliest beachfront hotels. First opened in 1869 as a wooden frame building, the hotel soon grew in popularity when it became the closest lodging to nearby attractions Million Dollar Pier and Convention Hall. Several celebrities of the early 1900s who performed at Million Dollar Pier stayed at the Shelburne, including Al Jolson, Irving Berlin, and Ethel Barrymore. The Shelburne was a particular favorite of railroad magnate “Diamond Jim” Brady and diva Lillian Russell. The original frame Shelburne received a fireproof brick addition in 1922, and in 1926, the wooden structure was almost completely replaced by a $1.5 million, 12-story tower. A portion of the original frame Shelburne remained as the hotel’s dining room. The facility grew further in the 1950s, adding a ballroom, the Empress Motel on Pacific Avenue, and an ice skating rink. By the 1970s, however, declining tourism in Atlantic City had led the Shelburne to fall into disrepair. Only the first two floors were useable in 1978 when the entire building was closed. There were talks of building a Benihana Casino on the site, but no concrete plans developed. In 1984, the Shelburne was torn down, one of the last of Atlantic City’s grand hotels to disappear from the skyline. Bk.917.4985Atl13.007 
 H.LHSF.Hotels.Shelburne001  The Shelburne Hotel in the early days of Atlantic City.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.Bk.917.4985Atl13.007.
 A circa-1960s brochure for the Shelburne Hotel.

 

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

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Hotel Brochures – Heston Coll. 647.94

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