The Marlton Hotel holds a special place in the story of Lowercase. It was the spot that co-founders Gerard Masci and Brian Vallario first met and discussed bringing eyewear manufacturing back to the city. Brian had also previously lived there for several months, years earlier, while attending the New School. The Marlton, is named after it one of our best selling frames with a classic and timeless silhouette. The story of the hotel starts long before the formation of Lowercase, and was the home of many famous artists and authors, and has been a cornerstone of the Village history for over 100 years.
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, the Marlton Hotel remains a special place for artists that later took center stage of the bohemian scene of New York. In its tiny rooms and smoke-filled bar, the Beat Generation writers and musicians hanged and played, producing some of the most influential lyrics and ideas of the era.
Built in 1900, the hotel operated as an affordable single room occupancy accommodation and later a dormitory for the New School. During the Beat Generation years when many of America's troubadours and poets flocked to Greenwich Village, they found refuge at the hotel. Among them were Gregory Corso, Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac, who wrote "The Subterraneans" and "Tristessa” while lodging there.
Actress Lillian Gish lived in room 408, described by Albert Bigelow Paine in 1932 as a "tiny room" she stayed in to save money, in which she "cooked tinned things and tea using a sterno lamp" in 1913.
Isabel Dutaud Nagle, the muse, model and wife of sculptor Gaston Lachaise also stayed there in 1915, and wrote many poems over the years on Hotel Marlton stationary. Edna St. Vincent Millay was another poet guest.
Among other notable guests was feminist Valerie Solanas who lived there in 1968 when she attempted to murder Andy Warhol at The Factory. Galo Plaza, a revered South American politician who once served as the President of Ecuador, was born at the hotel to his diplomat parents.
In 2013, the building was revamped into a Parisian-inspired boutique by Sean MacPherson, the hotelier behind other fashion haunts like the Jane and the Waverly Inn. Measuring a mere 150 square feet each, most of the 107 bedrooms are miniature versions of a Paris grand hotel, with velvet headboards, crown moldings and shaded sconces held by brass hands. The classic decor is offset by mid-century touches such as art by Berlin artist Stefano Castronovo, and Serge Mouille chandeliers.
Now a favorite among a new breed of young New Yorkers and students, the Marlton Hotel remains a symbol of those bygone days of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues.
Words: Aiko Austin