Opening in 1904, just months before the opening of the subway, Hotel Seville was one of several hotels in the early part of the century to transform the neighborhood’s low-scale blocks into a chic, high-rise avenue. Now, over 100 years later, the hotel completed a multi-million dollar transformation by world-renowned architect David Rockwell infusing the hotel with an ultra-modern spirit while preserving the design-forward elements of the hotel’s historical aesthetic; in fact, a few of the original interior features and details remain despite the space having undergone these extensive renovations.
Seeing promise in the 29th Street and Madison Avenue location, esteemed hotel investor Maitland E. Graves purchased the corner site in 1901 and began construction in what would become a three year project. In fact, the original Tiffany store was located in the same vicinity on 25th Street and Park Avenue. Graves commissioned the prominent Beaux Arts architect, Harry Allen Jacobs, whose boisterous design character is evident in the façade’s ornate detail. One of Jacobs’ earliest commissions, he included a rusticated limestone base; red brick and white terra-cotta trim; and three-dimensional sculptural ornaments, such as rounded copper bays, cartouches and large third-story panels with foliage and lion heads. Additionally, with the main entrance on 29th Street, Jacobs and Graves were able to build impressive, public rooms on the east side, overlooking the prestigious Madison Avenue.
The opening of The Seville – so named because of Graves’ love for Seville, Spain – was wildly successful. Less than two years later in 1906, Graves commissioned Charles T. Mott, a prolific designer of middle-class row houses, to construct a west-side addition that would stretch the hotel from East 29th Street to East 28th Street. Simplifying the grandeur of Jacobs’ original design, Mott’s addition included windows along its western façade giving guests fantastic views all the way to Fifth Avenue.
As New York became a vivacious and compelling international destination, the Seville Hotel continued to grow in popularity as well. During this time, legend has it that Harpo Marx served as a bellboy at the hotel and in fact developed several skits based on his experiences at the hotel. In addition, it has been rumored that during the prohibition years, The Seville gained popularity as a speakeasy for many New Yorkers.
In 1985, the hotel was taken over by new owners who completely refurbished the guest rooms bringing in a breath of fresh air into this New York City landmark.
In 1987, the hotel underwent major upgrading that included restoration of the façade, and was renamed The Carlton Hotel on Madison Avenue.
In 2003, David Rockwell was brought on to introduce a multi-tiered effort to return the Carlton to the splendor of its former years. The plan included the development of acclaimed restaurant Country, and Café at Country with world renowned Chef Geoffrey Zakarian. In addition, they embarked on a full hotel refurbishment and redesign led by David Rockwell.
As a core tenant of the refurbishment, the Rockwell Group focused on modernizing the hotel while respecting the rich history behind this property. For example, Rockwell so admired the fleur de lis on the second floor of the original hotel that he incorporated this art throughout the newly designed hotel. In addition, Rockwell hand picked and restored a vintage bar that was used back in 1912 for famous patrons such as Frank Sinatra and installed at the hotel’s restaurant. Similarly, Rockwell restored numerous other antique elements of the hotel including a stunning, Tiffany-style glass skylight that had been painted over to deter air raids during World War II. Other highlights include the transformation of the hotel’s lobby and lounge as well as the exterior façade and the hotels’ 317 guest rooms.
Similarly, one of The Carlton’s most captivating focal points is the lobby’s cascading two-story waterfall revealing an oversized vintage black and white photograph of the hotel taken in 1924 as The Seville Hotel.
In 2007, Gemstone Resorts took over management of the property and in November 2008, The Carlton became a member of the Preferred Hotel Group.
For information and reservations, contact (212) 532-4100 or visit www.carltonhotelny.com.
Christina Stejskal/Melissa Sgaglione/Leslie Silver
Dan Klores Communications