|Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle was one of Atlantic City’s early political bosses, predating and inspiring famed 1920s boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson. Born in 1857, Kuehnle moved from New York City to New Jersey at the age of only one, after his parents decided to open a hotel in Egg Harbor City. In 1875, they moved again to Atlantic City to open Kuehnle’s Hotel. According to Franklin Kemp, the building which Kuehnle’s overtook was previously known as the West End Hotel, and in 1874 was the site where Atlantic City’s first fire company was founded. The first electric streetlamp in the city was also lighted outside of the hotel. Situated at the terminus of Atlantic City’s first railroad line, at South Carolina and Atlantic Avenues, the hotel profited from the bustle of activity in the area. After Louis Kuehnle rose to power and inherited the hotel, its saloon, “The Corner,” became a meeting place for Atlantic City politicians. In 1893, he added a four-story addition to the property, known as “the Annex,” which he rented out as storefronts and apartments. In 1911, Kuehnle’s fortunes changed as a campaign to clean up Atlantic City found him indicted for corruption and voter fraud. Although he would continue to play smaller roles in Atlantic City politics, his former dominance was gone. Kuehnle’s Hotel disappeared from the city in 1921, and was replaced with the Boardwalk National Bank building. The concrete structure is still standing today, and among other businesses, still houses a bank.|
For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
| A circa 1910s postcard shows Kuehnle's Hotel.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Kuehnles001.