Step into the remains of a Gilded Age hotel

Hollandhouse“Every window in the Holland House, at Fifth Avenue and 30th Street, was glowing with light last night when the doors were opened to hundreds of visitors bidden to see the beauties of the new hostelry,” wrote the New York Times in a gushing review of the newest kid on a luxury block on December 6, 1891.

In a Gilded Age city resplendent with so many sumptuous hotels, the Holland House quickly became the place to live, dine, and enjoy a stretch of Fifth Avenue lined with the mansions of wealthy New Yorkers.

And former mansions, as New York’s richest residents were steadily relocating their residences uptown.


“The Holland House presents many novelties—and extremely attractive ones too . . .” stated the Times.

“In the main hall, leading from the Fifth Avenue entrance, the walls and the carved staircase are of Sienna marble.”

Hollandhousestaircase“There are 350 guest rooms in the hotel, and from the bridal suites down are all beautifully furnished and decorated,” wrote the Times.

The writer of the article also noted the novel wine cellar, the banquet and drawing rooms, the restaurant, and the staff of 180 employees.

Holland House offered sumptuous accommodations through the teens, hosting president Taft (and an army of Secret Service guards) in 1912.

HollandhouseornamentationBut the hotel was eclipsed not long after it opened when the Waldorf and the Astoria Hotels went up a few blocks north on 34th Street.

In 1897, the two joined forces to become the city’s premier hotel, turning the area into kind of a luxury hotel row which played host to the most exclusive balls and parties, like the legendary Bradley Martin Ball.

Today, unlike the original Waldorf-Astoria, Holland House still stands.

Hollandhouse2015Its facade is remarkably unchanged, and mysteriously there is a marble staircase and ornamental motifs in marble visible in the lobby.

The building manager says they are originals.

If so, they’re some of the last remnants of Gilded Age glamour on this once exclusive stretch of Fifth Avenue.

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4 Responses to “Step into the remains of a Gilded Age hotel”

  1. Mykola Mick Dementiuk Says:

    Would take a seat on the front step of the Holland House as I wandered around Fifth Ave at night. On 30th St, a few doors up, would be Henry Miller’s father’s tailor shop. But 31st St would have more bars along the way, a few hotels lined the street, now faded and residing in my memory, they were once very busy. Oh well, time to move on…

  2. Robert R. Says:

    According to my research, the Holland House offered a unique opportunity to their guests. If one wanted a glass of warm milk before bed, a pot of coffee in the morning, or a steak from Delmonico’s down the street, the staff would deliver these to the guest’s room. Thus, the Holland House is the birthplace of Room Service.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    That’s great, I had no idea. I did read that they had some newfangled way for guests to communicate with staff, which I guess meant room service demands!

  4. trilby1895 Says:

    What a wonderful tribute to this magnificent building, ephemeral! How grateful we are that this building has been spared the wrecking ball; rapacious and historically-disrespectful “developers” must be drooling at the prospect of getting their hands on this one. I do fervently hope they are foiled forever. We don’t need more of their hideous, horrifically ugly glass and steel abominations. So thank you, ephemeral, for bringing attention.

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