Historic Structures

Blenheim Hotel, Atlantic City New Jersey

Date added: July 14, 2017 Categories: New Jersey Hotel

Four years after the Marlborough was completed, the Children's Seashore Home property across Ohio Avenue came up for sale. Popular tales recount that the owners offered the land to Josiah White and, when he was not interested, suggested that an amusement company would be glad to take the property. At that point, of course, White reappraised the situation and bought the property. In fact, the Marlborough Annex Company acquired the land, and in the summer, William Price, working as Price and McLanahan, Architects, was asked to make the plans for a new building.

In the four years since the completion of the Marlborough, a number of significant events had occurred that shaped the new building. First, was the success of the Marl borough, demonstrating that the public's appetite for luxury was not diminished, and forcing White to demand a mode of construction that would have minimum impact on his clientele. Second, in 1902, a portion of Atlantic City was destroyed by a fire that wrecked White's own Luray Hotel and many others east of Kentucky Avenue. The danger of fire had been a serious concern of the resort industry for half a century, with three memorable fires in nearby Cape May to serve as reminder to the public. It could be anticipated that the new hotel would be of fireproof construction. The choice between steel and the new technology of reinforced concrete was resolved for the Blenheim by the danger of a steel strike in the Fall of 1905, and by Price's experience with reinforced concrete in the Jacob Reed's Sons' store of 1903-04 in Philadelphia. There, Price had demonstrated the material's appropriateness for public buildings—instead of restricting it to industrial design—and had found it to be a relatively quiet mode of construction, certainly less noisy than the riveted steel of contemporary practice.

Finally, just as all important post-fire hotels were built of fireproof materials, so too all important post-Marlborough hotels took the course towards luxury, with larger guest chambers and private baths. Moreover, the obvious virtues and monumentality of a single building were also appreciated in a variety of new hotels, including the new Chalfonte Hotel of 1903 by Philadelphian Addison Hutton and the 1901 block of the Shelbourne Hotel by Rogers and MacFarlane of Detroit.