Hotel Belleclaire (Thursday Doors)

down deep on its luck
a building rescued, restored–
remembering its bones

The Hotel Belleclaire was one of the first buildings designed by architect Emory Roth. Constructed in the Art Nouveau style, it opened in 1903 as a luxury residence hotel intended for the city’s upper class families. Amenities included long-distance telephone service in every room, private dining rooms, a library, and a roof garden.

It’s history in this iteration included the usual scandals and domestic dramas that seem to follow all New York City buildings around. The Daytonian has a detailed history.

In 1925 architect Louis Allen Abramson replaced the windows and railing on the ground floor with storefronts, and the entrance was moved around the corner to 77th Street. This began the building’s decline. By the latter half of the 1900s the hotel, like many old Upper West Side buildings, had become an SRO full of transients and rampant crime.

After the building was designated a Landmark in the 1990s, it was bought by Triumph Hotels, who began to gradually renovate the interior and return the exterior to some semblance of its original state. Now considered an “affordable” neighborhood hotel, it contains 250 guest rooms and 15 apartments whose tenants were grandfathered in because of local rent laws that prevented their eviction. You can read an interview with one of them here.

I don’t remember the building ever feeling particularly run-down; in fact I always imagined that it would be wonderful to live in one of the corner apartments. But the entire city was kind of down-and-out in the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, it was an affordable place to live then.

Now there are tourists going in and out the front door, and a doorman to attend to them. Upscale shops and a café occupy the bottom floor.

Door guardians are still in residence, and lovely details remain all over the façade. This website has some good photos of the ones on the upper floor which I could not capture with my camera–the photo at the top scrolls through them.

And you can visit the hotel’s website, and make a reservation if you like, here.

And don’t forget to visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors here, where you’ll find more doors, and a place to add your own.

Tags: , , , , , ,

About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

39 responses to “Hotel Belleclaire (Thursday Doors)”

  1. dennyho says :

    A beautiful old building that appears to be repurposed. Hopefully, they’ve managed to keep a bit of its history intact.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Suzette Benjamin says :

    Great photos and exquisite architecture. Thanks for the excellent historical details. Your poem is spot on!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. sunhesper says :

    Anything with Vienna Secession influences makes me itch to stay there, and I might one day…in a much more affluent incarnation. 🙂 And what a wild history—a lion roaming the halls and everything!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. merrildsmith says :

    It’s a beautiful building. I’m glad they restored it without ruining it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Liz Gauffreau says :

    Of course, I had to go straight to the link for scandals and domestic dramas.

    What a shame that the building wasn’t kept (or restored) with its original features all intact.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. msjadeli says :

    I couldn’t get to the NYT article (behind a barricade) but I did look at the one with a bunch of pictures. I think those guardians on the upper floors are not only “Indians” but female AND also winged effigies, that’s powerful protection! Also read the story at the link with the various scandals associated with it. The part where the thug brothers trying to drive out the oldsters reminds me of that movie, “Batteries Not Included” which is a wonderful movie. That is one beautiful building! I wonder if they still have the roof garden. What a shame they had to mess with it way back when and change the ground floor and also that they lost the dome.

    Liked by 2 people

    • memadtwo says :

      I hate that the Times does that to links. It’s really annoying. I’ll have to look closer at the winged beings. There’s a lot going on all over the façade. And I agree about the dome. I’m sure it would be expensive to restore though.
      That landlord behavior goes on even now. People are more aware of their rights and can sometimes fight back, especially if the tenants group together, but owners can make things so unlivable that it seems easier to leave than fight a lot of the time.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Patricia Furstenberg says :

    What is it about Art Nouveau that appeals to us?
    First shots reminded me of the apparent building where Hercule Poirot supposedly lives – in the TV serves Agatha Christie’s Poirot wt David Suchet!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Dan Antion says :

    I like how your poem set the stage for a very interesting post. The hotel is such an attractive building. I am glad it was preserved. I’ll be back to look at some of the links after checking the other TD posts. When I saw the amenities – “… included long-distance telephone service in every room, private dining rooms, a library, and a roof garden.” I had to think about that for a minute. Aside from the long-distance service, I’d consider those worth an extra fee today. I stayed in a hotel in Philadelphia that had a library, and it was a wonderful little escape.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Dan. I agree, especially about the roof garden. I lived briefly in a building with one, and my daughter and I used to go up with a pizza on summer evenings and enjoy the sunset. No chance of my current building installing one (there’s a penthouse on the roof), unfortunately.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. paeansunplugged says :

    It is certainly a beautiful building. Good to know they have preserved as much of it as they could.
    You captured its essence so well in your verse.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. judeitakali says :

    Loved the history behind this. Thanks for sharing. It’s a bewitching building.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. robertawrites235681907 says :

    What a beautiful old building, Kerfe. New York looks really amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. murisopsis says :

    A building with history is always better than a pre-fab new and not built to last building! Love the door guardians!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Bela Johnson says :

    So cool to hear the history of these buildings, Kerfe! ☺️🏨

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Tanmay Philip says :

    Every stone has a story, and your Thursday Doors series is like the Arabian Nights… weekly edition.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. D. Wallace Peach says :

    I love it when buildings are “rescued, restored.” This one was lucky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. neil reid says :

    Visited their website. Interesting, the difference between outside (charming) and inside (just doesn’t fit at all). Well that’s business I suppose (don’t do more than you must) (but kind of sad). Nice of you to provide those additional links. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Teagan Riordain Geneviene says :

    That’s a truly splendid building. I love both Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. I agree about the corner apartments. Wouldn’t it be nice to see what it was inside during it’s original glory? Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. s.s. says :

    I love the words….remembering its bones…says so much

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: