Located on one of the most prestigious and history-laden blocks in New York City, a rich and storied past surrounds The Mansfield Hotel. From its humble beginnings as an orphanage, to its construction as a hostelry for bachelors and socialites, to its present day status as a classically-styled historic hotel, The Mansfield enjoys a history steeped in the experiences of Old New York.
1836 - Anna Shotwell and Mary Murray developed a vacant lot (now home to The Mansfield Hotel) into an African-American Orphans’ Asylum to help fight the growing problems of racial and social injustice. The original structure was used to care for over 1,200 orphaned children and children of single mothers during its lifetime.
1863 – Misfortune befell the institution and was destroyed by fire in the Civil War Draft riots in July of 1863.
1867 - Prohibited from rebuilding the asylum on the same site, Shotwell and Murray sold the property in 1867.
1870s-1880s – With the construction of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue and 50th Street, and Temple Emmanu-El on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, wealthy New Yorkers began migrating north into the area which is referred to today as midtown Manhattan.
1880s – 1890s – The changing face of New York brought about the construction of elaborate and ornate mansions along Fifth Avenue where names like Vanderbilt, Whitney, Goelet, Gould and Mills became synonymous with wealth. To support the lifestyle of midtown Manhattan’s new social class, a three-story brick stable was constructed on the site which is currently The Mansfield Hotel.
Late 1890s – The Comtesse de Castelloneinee, Anna Gould, daughter of Jay Gould transferred the stable property to her brothers, Edwin and Gorge Jay Gould, who later sold it to John G. McCullough and Frederick Beach Jennings.
1901 - In June 1901 the services of the architectural firm Renwick, Aspinwell & Owen were retained to design a 12-story brick and stone apartment hotel for wealthy bachelors. They estimated the total cost of construction at $200,000.
1903 - The Mansfield opens as a hostelry for well-heeled bachelors and socialites seeking to launch their careers and broaden their studies. The exclusive living quarters were only available to male residents.
1907 - John Butler Yeats, Irish artist and father of the celebrated poet, William Butler Yeats, takes up residence at The Mansfield to experience the thriving culture of New York City.
1920 – 1933 – During prohibition The Mansfield housed a number of notable residents who stored their illegal liquor within the residence or in nearby safety-deposit boxes.
1925 - S. R. Real purchased the hotel, promising the National Hotel Review that he would continue operating it as a high-class bachelor hotel. He changed his mind and hired hospitality veteran Wilson J. Hodges to manage the property. Hodges’ first and major change opened the hotel to both men and women.
1950s – Max von Gerlach, a bootlegger and former World War I officer who was believed to be the inspiration for the character of Jay Gatsby of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, “The Great Gatsby” resided at The Mansfield. Gerlach was believed to have kept Fitzgerald’s liquor supply topped off during Prohibition.
1958 - Max von Gerlach passes away.
1962 – By the mid-century, after years of hosting Manhattan’s elite, The Mansfield had lost much of its original grandeur and became worn with only one original tenant remaining.
2004 – The hotel was purchased by Willow Hotels and the team of Stephen B. Jacobs and Andi Pepper was retained to lead a comprehensive restoration of the hotel. Artisans carefully restored and preserved Renwick’s signature elements, including the high-ceilinged lobby, terrazzo-floored hallways, and oval cast-iron staircases with red mahogany banisters and intricate balustrades. Guest rooms and suites were redesigned keeping within the buildings original grandeur to offer modernized bathrooms and upgraded amenities desired by today’s travelers.
2007 – During the spring of 2007 the hotel finished its massive restoration process. With the opening of the hotel, the original grandeur once enjoyed by New York City’s elite was properly restored.