Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Ben Franklin House

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Built  1923
Added to NRHP  March 2, 1982
NRHP Reference #  82003808
Ben Franklin House
Location  822-840 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Architect  Horace Trumbauer, John N. Gill
Architectural style  Late 18th-century Anglo-American

The Ben Franklin House, formerly known as the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, is a historic hotel, now apartment building, located at 834 Chestnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



The Benjamin Franklin Hotel was built by Niagara Falls businessman Frank A. Dudley and operated by the United Hotels Company of America. The hotel, originally opened in 1923, was designed by prominent American architect of the Gilded Age, Horace Trumbauer.

The hotel, named for founding father and Philadelphian, Benjamin Franklin, attracted attention in 1947 for refusing to accommodate the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had used the hotel for years, because of the inclusion of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. The Bellevue-Stratford Hotel agreed to house the team that day. The team moved their permanent accommodations to the Warwick Hotel.

The hotel was owned by Bankers Securities Corporation which owned several hotels (including, ironically, the Bellevue-Stratford, the Sullivan,) within the city of Philadelphia. During the tradition of Army-Navy football, the hotel was the housing hotel for Army. The 1970s were a slow period with hotels hoping to benefit by the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration in the original thirteen colonies. However, this was not the tourist financial success expected. William Chadwick was the general manager for many years in the 1960s to 1970s, followed by Harry Gilbert and then Tom Johnson just prior to the hotel's closing in the 1980s. Also, on the staff in the late 1960s to early 1970s was Robert C. Bennett, Jr.,(grandson of Claude H. Bennett noted hotel manager of the 1930s) later the founding professor of the hotel management degree program at a suburban county community college ( Delaware County Community College 1974).

Also, in 1976 the state of New Jersey legalized casino gambling, which further deluted the hotel industry in Philadelphia as new hotels opened in Atlantic City.

Present day

In the mid-1980s the hotel was renovated and reopened as the Benjamin Franklin House. It is affectionately referred to as "The Ben" by many Philadelphians. During the renovation, the historic ballroom was converted into office space which resulted in objections by the National Park Service. The ballroom was restored in 1988 to qualify for federal tax credits.

The building currently has 412 apartments, 120,000 square feet (11,000 m2) of office space, and one of Philadelphia's largest ballrooms used for banquet/weddings.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.


Ben Franklin House Wikipedia

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