4 Stars in History for the Upcoming Hotel Monaco

Slated for completion in the Fall of 2012, Kimpton’s newest Hotel Monaco will open in Philadelphia’s most historic neighborhood. At 5th and Chestnuts Sts., the 270-room hotel will be outfitted with a restaurant and bar, 12,000 sqft. of meeting space, and an elegant ballroom overlooking Independence Mall.

Looking to the west across 5th St. from just south of the future hotel. History abounds!

The Hotel Monaco’s surrounding area is a history buff’s dream. Facing Independence National Park at the front, from its 11 stories there will be views of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, The National Constitution Center, Signers Park, Carpenter’s Hall, and the tree canopy of Washington Square Park just to name a few. While arguably everything is walkable in Philly, visitors will only be steps away from many of the city’s most historic sites: Christ Church and its Cemetery, the Bourse Building, the Betsy Ross House and Elfreth’s Alley, and Franklin Court. It’s only doors down from the new National Museum of American Jewish History and the US Mint.

Increasingly known for the rehabilitation of historical buildings for their hotel properties, Kimpton most recently did a full restoration in 2007 of The Architect’s Building at 17th and Sansom for its Hotel Palomar. So they clearly know what they’re doing in what must be a tricky adaptive reuse of this building.

Kimpton’s Hotel Monacos in nine other cities, including SF, DC and Portland, follow an eclectic and lush style of interiors with rich color schemes that seem fitting for the new setting. An updated take on the ornate grandeur of the early 20th century will reflect the area and building better than a too-modern facelift. An excavation of the sidewalk around the perimeter of the building lends itself to a possible basement level drenched in sunlight, or perhaps just structural enhancements.

Originally completed in 1907, The Lafayette Building was funded by the Stephen Girard Estate and designed by architect James Hamilton Windrim whose other works include the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Falls Bridge over Schuylkill River, and the Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse. Used as an office building, it was an example of modern-day electricity use throughout for elevators, lighting, refrigeration, plumbing, and floor cleaning.

In 2001, a concrete chunk of the cornice crashed to the sidewalk overnight, but luckily no one was injured. The building has been vacant for years we’re excited to see this new turn for such a beautiful property. Should make walking by it a little safer, too.

— Lauren Summers