A Little Bit Of History...

Posted July 24, 2019

“No one likes to be old," Nora Ephron wrote. "The most they will cop up to is that they're older. Or oldish."

We’ll own up to being to being flat-out old. Making it well past the century mark is nothing to sneeze at and we’re proud of every decade…every facelift, each nip and every single tuck.

The Washington Square Hotel started out in 1902 as the Hotel Earle, named after its first owner, Earle S. L’Amoreaux. In the beginning, it was a single, eight-story, red brick residential hotel. In 1908, L’Amoreaux erected an identical connecting building to create a grand hotel, complete with reading rooms, restaurants and banquet facilities.

The little hotel kept growing. Four years later, L’Amoreaux added a ninth floor; still another adjoining three-story building was added five years after that.

While primarily a haven for a staid, affluent community—think Henry James’ “Washington Square”—even then, the hotel attracted a creative clientele. P.G. Wodehouse, the English humorist, visited in 1909. Ernest Hemingway stayed at the hotel for a few weeks in 1918, right before he took off for his service as an ambulance driver in WWI.

When the bohemian counterculture took over in the 50s, the neighborhood changed drastically. Like all neglected grand dames of a certain age, the Earle fell into disrepair. Well, that’s probably putting it nicely. Joan Baez (quite honestly) christened it “that crummy hotel” in song, “Diamonds and Rust”!

But clearly looks aren’t everything. The shabby boardinghouse quickly became a magnet for struggling artists, writers, actors, musicians, and even the occasional petty criminal.

Dylan Thomas checked in when, after being evicted from the Hotel Beekman, he sought a location close to one of his favorite bars in the Village, the Minetta Tavern (still there today).

Bob Dylan lived in room 305 in 1964; Roger McGuinn lived in 702. John and Michelle Phillips, The Rolling Stones, Dexter Gordon, Buddy Miles, Albert King, Coleman Hawkins all bunked here at least once during that time.

Enter Rita and Daniel Paul. In 1973, they bought the Earle and immediately set out to remodel. A fresh coat of paint and revamped room furnishings helped bring the hotel up to date; the once-gloomy halls were filled with Rita’s beautiful artwork, which you can still see today. In 1986, they renamed it The Washington Square Hotel to properly reflect the proximity to the square and the beautiful landmark neighborhood.

In 1992, the Pauls' daughter, Judy, opened the acclaimed North Square restaurant in the hotel, designed to feed hungry travelers and neighbors alike.

The improvements continued and continue to this day. Judy and her husband, Marc Garrett, have been busy renovating the rooms in recent years to make them as modern and amenity-filled as possible, while still retaining that art deco beauty.

Artists, writers and musicians still frequent the Washington Square Hotel. (In fact, long time regular Bo Diddley graced us with a live set in the lobby at our 100th anniversary party.)

But so do doctors, insurance brokers,real estate agents and people from all over the world. Our looks are always going to be changing, but our attitude will remain the same. We hope our guests feel like family because to us, they are.