by Stanley Turkel, CMHS
A haven for writers and artists for more than a century, the Washington Square Hotel, located at Waverly and MacDougal Streets, just off the northwest corner of Washington Square Park, occupies a unique place in Greenwich Village’s history. The hotel facilities include 150 guestrooms, a renovated lobby with unique art works, 24-hour front desk service, fitness room, lobby bar and the highly-acclaimed North Square Restaurant & Lounge. Complimentary wireless internet access is available in the lobby and lobby bar.
The Washington Square Hotel was built in 1902 as a residential hotel named the Hotel Earle after its first owner, Earle S. L’Amoureux. The hotel occupied a single, eight-story, red brick building on Waverly Place, in the heart of Greenwich Village, now an historic landmark district.
In a letter to the Hotel Gazette on October 26, 1942, the well-known real estate broker George B. Corsa wrote,
“The plot, 27′ x 105′, an old four-story residence, on which the Hotel Earle was built at 103 Waverly Place in 1901-02 was conveyed by Earle S. L’Amoureux on September 9, 1901, to Henry and James Cleland, who built the original Hotel Earle, 8 stories and basement, 27′ x 95′ 5″. I negotiated the lease of the entire building to James Knott, running from January 1, 1903 to April 30, 1913. Mr. Knott was at that time operating The Judson and The Holley apartment hotels on Washington Square. The property was sold August 8, 1903, subject to the said lease, Frederick D. Fricke, who bought the adjoining property at 105 Waverly Place, 25′ x 4″ x 105′, an old four-story residence, on November 6, 1903. He subsequently built an eight-story and basement building thereon as an addition to the Hotel Earle and connected with the original building at number 103. In 1912, a ninth floor was added and in 1917, the adjoining three-story building was acquired bringing the hotel to MacDougal Street at the northwest corner of picturesque Washington Square Park.”
An early brochure published soon after the opening of the Earle Hotel advertised:
The Earle 103 Waverly Place, one door from Washington Square, North James Knott, Proprietor
A first-class Apartment Hotel, one door from the north side of Washington Square which, with its fountain, fine old trees and mansions, its historic association as well as the Washington Arch and the Judson Memorial Tower, surmounted by the illuminated cross, is considered by many the finest residential part of New York; especially attractive to artists, literary people and old families, within walking distance of the business or shopping section and yet fronting on a large, handsome park. The frightful congestion of travel on the Elevated road and the surface cars as well, makes it worth while for people who have any regard for their own personal comfort or safety to live in places where they can be to a great extent independent of public conveyance. It is probable that even the completion of the proposed Rapid Transit Subway will afford little relief, since the work proceeds so slowly that, before it is finished, the population will have increased to such an extent that the vehicles for public conveyance will be just as crowded as before.
A beautiful building, absolutely fire-proof. Eight floors, with elevator, electric light, steam heat, telephone, beautiful bath-room with each suite and dumbwaiter service from Kitchen to each floor….
In these apartments meals will be served by means of a dumbwaiter to each floor from public dining-room and pantry in response to orders transmitted by telephone.
Entirely new Hotel of nine stories high, forty-two feet wide, absolutely fireproof throughout and containing 127 rooms.
It is one block from Sixth Ave. Elevated station and all surface cars.
Every room has the latest improved private bath.
Private dining-room which can be used for parties and banquets.
Smoking room and Turkish room.
Electric light in wardrobe.
Long distance telephone connection in every room.
This was time of great change for the neighborhood. Once a staid, affluent community (as depicted in Henry James’ Washington Square and The Heiress), Greenwich Village was becoming the center of New York’s bohemian counterculture, reflected by the Beat Generation who gravitated to the coffee houses and jazz clubs. The Hotel Earle was allowed to deteriorate into a shabby apartment hotel, making it an affordable location for struggling artists, actors, writers and musicians.
Ernest Hemingway stayed at the hotel for a few weeks in 1914, just before he went off to serve in World War I. Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, the B52’s, Maynard Ferguson and Bo Diddley have all been guests at the hotel.
In the 1950s, the Irish poet Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin were evicted from the Beekman Hotel after, legend has it, the management got tired of his partying and excessive demands on room service. Seeking residence close to one of his favorite bars in Greenwich Village, the Minetta Tavern, Dylan checked into the Hotel Earle, then somewhat well-worn, with an easygoing atmosphere and staff. He wrote a letter to his parents in May 1950 in which he described the Earle as “right in Washington Square, a beautiful Square, which is right in the middle of Greenwich Village, the artists’ quarter of New York.”
In 1973, Daniel Paul purchased the hotel and began the process of upgrading the property. He converted the residential hotel into a transient facility, catering to both domestic and foreign travelers. He renamed the hotel in 1986 as the Washington Square Hotel to reflect the proximity of the surrounding landmark neighborhood. In 1992, his daughter Judy Paul opened North Square Restaurant, a first-class New York bistro at the hotel. Subsequently, Judy Paul and her husband Marc Garrett assumed the management and renovated the hotel as an uncommonly attractive boutique facility. It has unique colorful tiles and paintings designed by Judy’s mother, artist Rita Paul.
The restaurant has large picture windows overlooking Washington Square Park which bathe the room with sunlight. A huge bouquet of fresh-cut flowers creates as warm welcome, as does the breadbasket loaded up with a selection from Amy’s Bread and Pain d’Avignon. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It never closes for breakfast, remaining open 365 days a year. On Sunday afternoons, they do a jazz brunch. A few years back, one of the breakfast waitresses asked if they’d let her perform. She gave them a demo CD to listen to. The Pauls were impressed and gave her the green light. She went on to win five Grammy Awards. That waitress was Norah Jones.
The Washington Square area is the soul of Greenwich Village, alive with music venues, stylish restaurants, trendy clubs and distinctive shops. The adjacent neighborhoods of Little Italy, Chinatown, the East Village, West Village, Soho, Tribeca, the Meatpacking District and Chelsea and still within easy walking distance. In addition, New York University, Cardozo Law School, Cooper Union and The New School University are just a short walk from the hotel’s front door.
About Stanley Turkel’s Books
- Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009) During the thirty years prior to the Civil War, Americans built hotels larger and more ostentatious than any in the rest of the world. These hotels were inextricably intertwined with American culture and customs but were accessible to average citizens. Stephen Rushmore writes in the Foreword: "Drawing from more than 40 years of industry experience including managing some of the largest New York City hotels, Turkel captures the spirit of each of these pioneers and relates their achievements to important lessons that we can learn from."
- Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011) These thirty-two featured hotels have defied the passage of time for a variety of reasons, many explicable, some beyond explanation, all miraculous. Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D. writes in the Foreword: "Stanley Turkel is unique in his passion about the history of the United States lodging industry; he pursues and shares this passion by compiling information about great hoteliers and hotels for articles, updates for his clients, and this, the second of his two hotel books."
- Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013) All the eighty-six hotels featured in this book have unique and singular stories describing their creation, survival and revival. The book contains eighty-six antique postcard illustrations and a Foreword by Joseph McInerney, President and CEO Emeritus of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
- Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf (2014) Hotel Mavens tells the interesting stories of the following pioneers and the hotels they built and operated:
- Lucius Boomer, one of the most famous hoteliers of his time, was Chairman of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Corporation.
- George C. Boldt who was the genius of the original Waldorf-Astoria. It was said of him that he made innkeeping a profession and, more than any man, was the creator of the modern American hotel.
- Oscar of the Waldorf was the superstar of his time and one of the stalwarts who managed both the original and the current Waldorf-Astoria.
Sam Roberts in the New York Times wrote: "Nostalgia for the city's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf". The fact-filled book by Mr. Turkel, an industry consultant, explains, among other things, the history of the hyphen (recently excised) in the name of the Waldorf Astoria, which inspired a mid-block street and even a song.
- Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016) Lawrence P. Horwitz, Executive Director, Historic Hotels of America, writes in the Foreword: "This book is an excellent history book with insights into seventeen of the great innovators and visionaries of the hotel industry and their inspirational stories." These important and largely unknown biographies include Stewart William Bainum, Curtis Leroy Carlson, Cecil Burke Day, Louis Jacob Dinkler, Eugene Chase Eppley, Roy C. Kelley, Arnold S. Kirkeby, Julius Manger, Robert R. Meyer, Albert Pick, Jr., Jay Pritzker, Harris Rosen, Ian Schrager, Vernon B. Stouffer, William Cornelius Van Horne, Robert E. Woolley, and Stephen Allen Wynn.
All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.
If You Need an Expert Hotel Witness:
For the past twenty-four years I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases.
My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:
- hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases
- slip and fall accidents
- wrongful deaths
- fire and carbon monoxide injuries
- franchise/franchisor disputes
- management contract disputes
I have been designated as the 2015 and 2014 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any potential litigation support assignments.