In 1912 plans were filed with the New York City Dept. of Buildings for a 5-story hotel to be erected at the southwest corner of 8th Ave. and 22nd St. The cost was estimated to be $60,000, the owner was the Allerton Realty Co. at 240 W. 23rd St., and the architect was Paul C. Hunter (Office for Metropolitan History, "Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986," (22 July 2011), http://www.MetroHistory.com).
Polk's New York City Directory for 1915 lists the following officers at the Allerton Realty Co.: James S. Cushman, pres., William H. Silk, sec., and Charles S. Cushman, treas. The directory also included listings for the Allerton House Co. and Allerton Thirty-eighth Street Co. with essentially the same personnel. James S. Cushman was primarily responsible for the construction of the Hotel Allerton at 302 W. 22nd St. as well as several other hotels that were intended to be moderately priced and to serve a clientel of "white collar" working men and women. 302 W. 22nd St. was the first of these built in New York City between the years 1912 to 1922.
This ad from the Fall River Line Journal, March, 1922, shows the five hotels in existence at that time: 45 E. 55th St. (corner of Madison Ave.), 130 E. 57th St., 143 E. 39th St., 302 W. 22nd St., and 18 E. 38th St. (corner of Madison Ave.) (under construction).
Missing from this list is 138 E. 38th St. (southeast corner of Lexington Ave.). 138 E. 38th St. was constructed in 1914 as an Allerton Hotel and was listed in the Manhattan telephone directory from 1914 to 1917 as "Allerton 38th St. House." However, as reported in the publication Housing Betterment, October 1918, "Further to supplement its housing provision for girl workers in New York City, the Young Women's Christian Association has purchased the Allerton House, a twelve-story building at Thirty-eighth Street and Lexington Avenue, turned out the men occupants for whom it was built originally and converted it into a low-cost boarding home… The house is to be renamed the Tatham House after Miss Cora Tatham who has been for a number of years General Secretary of the Metropolitan Board of the Y. W. C. A." As of July 2011 the building was still called the Tatham House.
Writing in 1997 in answer to a query about the Allerton at 45 E. 55th St. (later called the Wilson Hotel), Christopher Gray, New York Times, 31 August 1997, had this to say, "Built in 1921, this was originally one of the Allerton Houses, a chain of moderately priced hotels for white-collar workers begun in 1916 by James S. Cushman. The chain grew to at least five buildings in New York, the others at 302 West 22d, 22 East 38th and 143 East 39th Streets and, for women, 130 East 57th Street. The 39th Street, 55th Street and 57th Street buildings were designed by Arthur Loomis Harmon in a Northern Italian style marked by varied brickwork, inset stone trim and rooftop arcades. Harmon, writing in the magazine Architecture in 1923, noted that he had problems getting just the effect he wanted, noting that 'the brick was laid as irregularly as the deadly mechanical perfection of the modern mason will permit.' He also took special care to have some decoration carried around to the lot line walls and with decorative enclosures for the rooftop water tanks. Inside, the Allerton Houses had club-type lounges, gyms and laundries; in the 1920's rooms rented for one to two dollars a day. Cushman, a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, was a grandson of Don Alonzo Cushman, an active real estate developer in Chelsea; he named the hotel chain for a Mayflower ancestor, Mary Allerton. But in the 1930's the Allerton corporation faltered, and the buildings were converted to conventional hotels. The 55th Street Allerton House was converted into offices in 1982, when the architect Edward V. Giannasca inserted vertical strips of reflective glass. But he retained some of the original masonry elements as piers in what was considered a conscious reference to the AT&T building, under construction across the street at the time."
This ad from the New York Times, 20 April 1924, announced the new Fraternities Club Building at 22 E. 38th St. This ad from the New York Times, 17 July 1925, gives the addresses of four of the Allerton "club residences."
James Stewart Cushman (1871-1952) received an extensive obituary in the New York Times, 20 March 1952, p. 29, reading in part, "James Stewart Cushman, manufacturer, realty operator, tennis official and philanthropist, died yesterday in the Harkness Pavilion, Columbia - Presbyterian Medical Center, after an illness of several months. Mr. Cushman, who was 80 years old, resided at 815 Fifth Avenue. ... He attended the Columbia Grammar School. As a youth he began as an associate with the Cushman & Denison Manufacturing Company, which makes stationery specialties. At his death he was the owner of the company, of which he was president and a director for the last forty years. Mr. Cushman was a founder and former head of the Allerton chain of moderately priced club hotels for 'white collar' men and women that began in 1916. Associated with him starting the chain, which grew to eight hotels, was a group of financiers including the late George W. Perkins and the late Arthur Curtiss James. The chain was named for another Mayflower ancestor of Mrs. Cushman, Mary Allerton. The Allerton hotels, built and managed by the corporation he headed, included six in New York and one each in Cleveland and Chicago. Those in New York were built at 45 East Fifty-fifth Street, 302 West Twenty-second Street, 138 East Thirty-eight Street, 143 East Thirty-ninth Street, 22 East Thirty-eighth Street and, for women, 130 East Fifty-seventh Street. He severed his Allerton connections more than fifteen years ago. He was regarded as a pioneer in improving the New York skyline because the Allerton sturctures were built so as to hide their water towers."
From around 1950 until at least 2002 the Allerton on 22nd St. had a nearby annex at 350 W. 23rd St. (click for image of sign from 2004).
An image from 1954 on the New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows the Midston House at the southeast corner of 38th St. and Madison Ave. This building, designed by the well known architectural firm of Murgatroyd & Ogden, was the last of the original six Allerton Hotels in New York. (It was constructed in 1922.) This was the Allerton Fraternities Club Building until the 1930s when it was renamed Midston. In the 1970s its name changed again, this time to Hotel Lancaster. As of July 2011 Allerton's Fraternities Club Building is called Madison Towers Hotel. Among other decorative elements the building carries a shield with the image of a sailing ship, probably the Mayflower.
In 2008 the former Allerton at 143 E. 39th St. was designated a New York City landmark. The Landmarks Preservation Commision report, 18 March 2008, includes the following, "The Allerton chain began its association with New York City with the construction, in 1913, of a 50-room Allerton House located at 302 West 22nd Street (1912-1913) in Chelsea. James S. Cushman, a governor of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, named the hotel chain for Mary Allerton, daughter of Isaac Allerton, an early owner of the land on which the first hotel was built. Allerton journeyed to America on the Mayflower and eventually settled in the area that is now Greenwich Village. Mary Allerton married Thomas Cushman ca. 1636. The company established five Allerton Houses in New York City, initially developed specifically to cater to a male clientele. The second Allerton House was developed in 1915, and located at 311 Lexington Avenue; it was soon purchased by the YWCA and converted to a women’s residence. The subsequent Allerton Houses were located primarily in midtown on the east side, 143-147 East 39th Street (1916-1918), 45 East 55th Street / 551 Madison Avenue (1919), 128-130 East 57th Street (1921-1923), and the Fraternities Club at 14-22 East 38th Street (1922-1924). The sixth Allerton House was the exception, 128-130 East 57th Street was (1921-1923) designed as a residence for women; all of the facilities were intended for semi-permanent guests."
In 1954 the Salvation Army bought the Allerton House at 143 E. 39th St. and converted it into a residence for business women called the Ten Eyck-Troughton Memorial Residence. By 2007 the Salvation Army was selling this and another similar New York City residence because they had become too costly to maintain. Holdout tenants fought the action in the courts (New York Times, 16 Sept 2007). The current (July 2011) building seems to be caught in the same legal turmoil of four years ago (click for image of entrance).
By May 2003 the Allerton overhang sign on 22nd St. had been replaced by a newer version.
By mid-2010 the Allerton 22nd Street had been renamed the Gem Hotel. But the HOTEL part of the sign on the building was retained from the earlier version (click for image). The supporting structure in the overhang part also seems to be unchanged.
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