Posts Tagged ‘hotels for women in New York City’

The Martha Washington: “for women guests only”

March 29, 2012

When the Hotel Martha Washington opened its respectable doors in Murray Hill in February 1903, it was the first women-only hotel in the city. And management took the women-only part seriously.

Not only were men prohibited in rooms, few could work there. Though the elevator operators, head waiter, and bell boys were male, the rest of the staff was female.

The place was a big hit. The wave of professional women moving to the city at the time—nurses, stenographers, teachers, doctors—thronged the waiting list for a $1.50 to $5 per day room.

Over the decades, as other women-only hotels opened, it remained a safe place for fresh-off-the-bus models, actresses, and students. 1920s actress Louise Brooks stayed there (she was asked to leave, according to this account). The hotel even scored a mention in Valley of the Dolls.

By the 1980s, the MR had become an SRO, home to long-term elderly tenants, shorter-term drug dealers, and, in 1998, men, according to the Village Voice.

On its 100th anniversary, this dowager of a hotel was rebranded Hotel Thirty Thirty and more recently Lola. I love the way copywriters put a 21st century spin on its single-gender past.

A home for “friendless French girls”

August 4, 2008

About 125 women currently live in the Jeanne D’Arc Home, a residence hotel on Eighth Avenue and 24th Street run by an order of nuns. It’s probably the only residency in the city, single-sex or otherwise, that has its own chapel, and one of the few that prohibits men past the front desk. 

The home has an interesting history. An original brick building was put up in 1896 by the Fathers of Mercy of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic church on 23rd Street that still holds mass in French. The home was to be a place where “friendless French girls who come to this country” could establish themselves and find work as “femmes de chambre, bonnes d’enfant, and gouvernantes,” as an 1896 New York Times article explains. 

Though the women living there now represent all nationalities, the home still maintains a very Catholic purpose: to care for the spiritual and temporal needs of women, as a mission statement in the foyer reads.