Last week our friends over at Curbed NY broke the news that the former Marlton House at 3 West 8th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenues) was going from New School dorm, which it had been for the past 25 years, to upscale hotel. According to the NY Post, it will be a “historical boutique hotel in Greenwich Village,” by hoteliers Richard Born and Sean MacPherson, who also own the Bowery and Jane Hotels (the men say this hotel will have the same aesthetic as their others). Born says a bar/restaurant is to be included, but claims the hotel will not be pricey, and that it will fit right in with Greenwich Village…
Well we can’t vouch for this last statement as far as the hotel itself, but as far as the exterior of the building is concerned, we’re pretty confident this will be true. That’s because the Marlton House at 3 West 8th Street is located within the original Greenwich Village Historic District and thus any changes to the exterior of the building must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The eight story building we see today looks almost exactly as it did when it was constructed in 1900 as the Hotel Marlton. At the time, the majority of this swath of West 8th Street was comprised of 5-story, fashionable residential buildings. The hotel rose taller and stood out for its curving bays, wrought-iron balconies, handsome entrance, and attractive cornice.
For much of its lifetime after its construction, however, it functioned as an SRO (single room occupancy) for struggling Village artists. Most famously it housed Edna St. Vincent Millay and Beat Generation writers such as Jack Kerouac (he wrote Tristessa here), Gregory Corso, and Neal Cassady.
The list of significant figures who passed through the Marlton’s doors does not stop there. Would-be Ecuadorian President Galo Plaza was born in the hotel in 1906 to his diplomat parents. Valerie Solanas was living there when she shot Andy Warhol in 1968. Actors including John Barrymore, Lillian Gish, Julie Andrews, and Mickey Rourke also spent time at 3 West 8th Street.
Even in its dorm days, Marlton House was not your run-of-the-mill place. In addition to students, there were still permanent residents living there, one of whom reportedly would get visits from Mickey Rourke and one of whom a former student claims was a pimp. This may not have been your average freshman year experience, but it was certainly one that gave dorm dwellers a powerful introduction to life in the Village and the Hotel Marlton.
We’ll see how the stories and characters that emanate from the new hotel compare to the old.