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The Hotel Easton History

History of The Former Hotel Easton, 140 Northampton St., Easton, Pa.

“The Hotel Easton” was built in the 1920’s as part of a movement in mid-sized cities to build landmark hotels as the crown jewel of downtown life. It was designed by one of the best firms of the time to mirror the splendor of modern metropolitan hotels in nearby New York City and Philadelphia. The architect, Thomas, Martin & Kirkpatrick, headquartered in Philadelphia, had buildings to its credit throughout the state. The Hotel Easton, however exceeded all expectations.

 

The hotel’s grand opening was held on February 10, 1927. More than four hundred Eastonians and guests came, including nearly half a hundred prominent hoteliers from all parts of the East. They praised the interior construction and marveled at the furnishings. Everything spoke of the splendor of the occasion: four-foot high floral arrangements graced urns made of ice, meticulously uniformed ushers and waiters moved in choreographed service, a live orchestra played, and dancing and festivities lasted well into the morning. Local newspapers declared it a “brilliant affair…the most picturesque event ever held in the City”.

 

The hotel soon became a local landmark and anchor of the community, the site of weddings, conferences, and other events. It went on to become a premier place to stay in the 1940s and 1950s, counting Eleanor Roosevelt and Jack Dempsey among its guests. Others who passed through included the cigarette making Morris Brothers, Phillip and Johnny, and Tiny Tim. The hotel also served as a favored site for political functions in the 1960s and 1970s. Easton residents remember politicians such as John F. Kennedy and Jesse Jackson speaking there.

 

A half a century after its opening, the Hotel Easton ran into hard times. The city and the region as a whole were in decline, and the hotel’s fate mirrored that of its surroundings. In 1990, the Hotel Easton was unceremoniously closed down in bankruptcy. Unfinished drinks were left in the bar and unmade beds were left behind. Cobwebs gathered and plaster began to peel as it sat abandoned, year after year.

 

Mayor Goldsmith of Easton (1992-2003) knew how damaging this was to the city’s prospects and made it a central goal of his administration to save this historic structure and return it to productive use. Finally, a decade after the building was shuttered, the current Nurture Nature Foundation (NNF), 501(c)(3) nonprofit, agreed to lend a hand. In 2000, NNF set up a wholly owned subsidiary, Easton Hotel Restoration, LLC to purchase and renovate the building.

 

Rescuing this urban asset required a major commitment of resources as well as determination in the face of repeated physical, economic and other challenges. An initial plan to convert the original 170 hotel rooms to 30 apartments for use as residential condominiums did not prove sustainable. In 2008, a decision was made to convert the already built condominium units to a hotel, subdividing many of them into smaller units, a few at a time. Today, the building counts more than fifty guest rooms, with a banquet area that hosts countless business and other events. Well known guests include the likes of Mikhail Gorbachev, Peyton Manning, Johnny Mathis and Ringo Starr’s band, along with ambassadors and other notables. Once again, it is a popular hotel, the pride of the city and the center of community life.

 

The success of this landmark renovation project ushered in an era of new vitality in Easton. An historic city with a rich past, Easton has now become once more a dynamic center of growth and innovation, with an escalating number of new residential and commercial renovations, a wildly successful farmer’s market, a growing artist community, and a wonderful new science center dedicated to addressing environmental issues. As the city planner said, “we feel very blessed in Easton, and it all started with this project.”

 

For more information about the history of the hotel, visit http://www.eastonhotelrestoration.com/the-historic-hotel-easton/.