Hotel Savoy, New York

That America leads the world in the size and splendor of her hotels is the universal opinion of travelers. In Europe the hotels are not such national institutions as those of America. The only foreign rivals of the later American hotels are the palaces of princes and the historic dwellings of the aristocracy, but not many of these can show anything in the art of house embellishment superior to the display of luxury exhibited in these American palaces.

In this land of mammoth hotels the ceaseless competition in luxurious appointments has given an opportunity for great artists and decorators to lead the public taste to as high a standard of art as any heretofore, and one of the latest additions to the architectural splendor of New York is the Hotel Savoy. Original Architect: Ralph S. Townsend.


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The classic portico that decorates the main entrance on the Plaza is a most interesting and magnificent feature. The limestone used in the construction of the hotel is of special quality, and comes from the Stinesville, Ind., quarries, having been specially selected for the building. The work was intrusted to the cut-stone contractors, Messrs. B. A. & G. N. Williams, Jr., of Avenue A and Sixty-eighth Street, New York City, whose work makes the Hotel Savoy one of the most imposing buildings in the city. They have carried out the designs of the architects in a way that cannot fail to excite admiration for technical beauty. It is to their work in particular that the beauty of the hotel is due, and as the architecture of buildings includes the artistic effects, architects and owners find it necessary to intrust the actual work of construction to specialists, who are careful to carry out the spirit of the design in every case. The architecture of the hotel, which is an absolutely fire-proof structure, is in the style of the Italian Renaissance.

This hotel is enabled by its location to control the finest outlook in the city of New York. It commands a full view of Fifth Avenue, the Plaza, and Central Park, and was selected by the United States Government and the authorities of the city of New York as the most suitable hotel to entertain the Princess Eulalia, who represented the Spanish Government during the Columbian Exposition. [Princess Eulalia arrived in the United States May 20, 1893, and left June 25.]



The structural material, such as columns and floor beams consists of a complete skeleton frame from the foundation to the roof, all securely riveted together and manufactured entirely of rolled steel, forming an independent structure of the strongest possible character. The hotel company made a radical departure from the building custom here, by using rolled steel columns instead of cast iron, owing to the uncertainty and unreliability in the process of manufacture of cast iron, although the cast iron columns cost much less, and are used owing to their cheaper cost, although leading engineers universally concede that they are unsafe in tall buildings. The columns and floor beams used were made by the Carnegie Steel Co., Limited, and furnished by A. R. Whitney & Co., New York, designers and builders of steel structures of every description, such as bridges, towers, fire-proof buildings, elevated railroads, etc. The Savoy, by reason of its architectural proportions, the luxury of its appointments, and the perfection of its organization, stands unrivaled among the hotels of the world.

The coming guest realizes the luxury in the structural enrichment and decorative treatment. Entering the hotel the massive bronze doors are swung open by the sable custodian, and the guest is ushered into a magnificent apartment, which is at once lobby, main corridor and foyer.



The partition walls separating the gentlemen's and ladies' restaurants from the hallway are constructed of Numidian marble and rise only half way to the ceiling. On the top of each wall runs a low balcony railing, allowing an undisturbed view of the ceiling of the entire ground floor, which contains the finest decorative and sculptural effects of any hotel in the world. The entire floor is lighted with an array of electric lights in artistic glass lamps, decorated with jeweled silver filigree.

The stationary and swinging electric lamps throughout are extremely original and artistic. Glass of a very peculiar tint is used in their construction. Baskets of silver filigree, charged with opalescent jewels, inclose incandescent lights. These are suspended by chains of silver.

The immense electroliers are composed of garlands of opalescent jewels, surmounted by crowns of silver filigree studded with semi-precious stones. Suspended from these crowns are fringes of green prisms of glass, that add much to the beautv of the design. These artistic accessories of the building have been enthusiastically admired.



The coup d'aeil (French pronunciation: ​[ku dœj] a stroke or rapid glance of the eye) of the entire hallway is singularly impressive, and the costly effect is enhanced by the elevator screen, which is solid bronze and of elaborate design. In the selection of elevators for this hotel the utmost care was taken to secure the best, safest and most modern type, with the result that the hotel is provided with an unexcelled elevator equipment, manufactured by the world-renowned builders, Otis Brothers & Co., whose famous machines are found in the great majority of hotels and office buildings in the United States, and also in many parts of Europe.

The furniture consists of large divans and easy chairs in carved oak, whose cinnamon red Russia leather upholstery is most inviting.

On entering the Ladies Restaurant, nothing more dainty than the appointments can well be imagined. This much-frequented section of the hotel is situated to the left of the main entrance, from which it is divided by the marble half walls already mentioned. The floor is of Roman mosaic, with ornamental inlays of various colors. The chairs are substantial and graceful in design, and entirely modern in style.

The apartment is in the Louis XVI style, the prevailing tone being old ivory and gold. The wall panels are filled with gold colored silk damask tapestry, on which are painted arabesques in low-toned colors. This scheme of coloring, contrasted with the marble walls and pilasters, presents a scene of luxury rarely equaled. Pendants and electric lights depend from the centers of several panels, each electrolier being a masterpiece of filigree work and semi-precious stones.



But no mere recapitulation of the technical splendors of the apartment can give an idea of the harmonious impression of color that radiates from the various decorative belongings. Here one can partake of the well served refreshments that a guest of a hotel such as the Savoy can command. Across the hall is the Gentlemens Restaurant. This apartment, similar to the Ladies Restaurant, has its own special entrance from the street, and is furnished with all the elegance within reach of modern decorative art. The constructive decoration of the apartment is in polished oak, in Louis XVI style, the pilasters having gilt bronze capitals. The walls are covered with deep cinnamon-colored leather. The ceiling is a rich paneling of heavy gilt mouldings. From several of the panels depend magnificent electroliers of original design. The furniture, which is of polished oak, is of modern French Renaissance.

The task of furnishing and equipping the several dining rooms of the hotel with its magnificent silverware so as to surpass all former efforts in that direction was intrusted to the Gorham Manufact uring Company, of New York and Providence, great attention being given to every detail, with the idea that the patrons of the Savoy should enjoy a home where all of the surroundings should be the most elegant, and all should be in harmony. With this end in view, the furnishings and decorations of silverware for the table have had every careful thought; ordinary wares have not been considered, and the aim of the Gorham Manufacturing Company has been to design and manufacture a service of such character as to leave them unexcelled in their line.



There are quite a number of cozy corners, which give a particular charm to the appointments, the whole being a most enjoyable retreat. The apartment is further beautified by a sculptured group of two figures in white marble, representing "Love and Psyche," being modeled by the world renowned Albano, of Florence ('Amor and Psyche', Salvatore Albano). Here also is the celebrated painting "Dawn," by the great (Jules-Joseph) Lefebvre. (Note: 640 Fifth Ave Vanderbilt House; "Dawn" a painting by Jules Lefebvre representing Aurora seated in a chariot, drawn through the air by two young women of pleasing mien ...)



In this most inviting retreat all kinds of refreshments are served to guests, efficient waiters being in attendance at all hours of the day and evening. It is eminently a place for confidential conversation, the guests having all the luxury of a private club. The magnificent ceiling and wall decorations, stationary and swinging electric lamps, as well as the immense jeweled electroliers, were executed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, of 333 to 341 Fourth Avenue, New York.

So great is the merit of the decorative electric light appliances made by Tiffany that they were among the trophies of original American art selected by the representative of the German Government at the World's Fair to enrich the Imperial Museum at Berlin.



Passing through the corridor to the entrance of the Grand Dining Room we find at the door an elegant horologue (horoscope; destiny as indicated by the stars) of a female figure, eleven feet in height, in silver bronze, standing upon a marble pedestal, which contains a gold dial. The pendulum is a large ball of blue enamel representing the midnight heavens. This is acknowledged to be the most magnificent and artistic clock in this country. The dining room resembles a Greek temple, the roof of which is supported by a double row of interior columns, the south end having a balcony for the musicians wherein four female caryatids support the entablature (sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head). The base about the room is of Sienna marble, and the body of the wainscot is of satin wood, inlaid with mother of pearl, metal and white holly. The columns are of Sienna marble, inlaid with Killarney green and white marbles, with pilasters of rouge jasper. The ceiling rests upon brackets that alternate with incandescent lamps, and when the entire lights are turned on the effect is marvelously beautiful. The ceiling of the main portion of the apartment has three large panel paintings by the well-known and celebrated artist Virgilio Tojetti, the outer pair of panels representing "Night" and "Morning." The immense central panel represents the "four seasons," the whole effect being one of grandeur.

Many people have wondered why Virgilio Tojetti's recent original productions have not been exhibited. It a call would be made at the Hotel Savoy several ot these could be seen. Ever since he arrived in this country his works have been in great demand, both for public and private adornment, and the proprietors of the hotel were quick to grasp the opportunity of having masterpieces of this great artist decorate their walls. A visit to Tojetti's studio, 487 Fifth Avenue, by those who appreciate skill, beauty, simplicity, and art, would be more than repaid.

Flanking these panels on the east and west are large and finely modeled female figures in plastic relief, supporting the arms of Savoy. The modeling is the work of Carl Bitter.

The furnishing of the dining hall is of a more modern character than its construction. The chairs and tables are in modern French Renaissance style. The chairs have beautifully carved frames, made of white mahogany, upholstered in old rose velour, and are considered the summum bonum (Latin expression meaning "the highest good") of artistic elegance.

Following the lines of the prevailing fashion at the period when the house of Savoy was famous all over Europe, the damask and linens in our modern Savoy are a faithful reproduction of the design and material used in the olden days.

The highway of commerce led in the middle ages over the Alps into Germany, which in those days supplied the finest flax products to the reigning courts of Europe, and from its leading factory of today in the quaint and mediaeval looking town of Neustadt come the snowy linen and napery which in their stately simplicity contrast so well with the artistic and brilliant decoration of the dining room.

In these days of exhibitions the products of this factory (S. Fränkel) received the highest three awards of all exhibits in linens at the Columbian Exposition, and a full representation of their linens can be viewed and procured from the New York office, 87 and 89 Leonard Street (O. Jaffé & Pinkus).

The Grand Dining Room as a whole is the most magnificent banqueting hall in America, if not in the world. It is an educational as well as a commercial construction, with details that stimulate curiosity, as well as furnish delight to the many guests that daily feast within its magnificent precincts.

Whether we ascend by way of the magnificent stairway or by the luxurious elevators, we step into the foyer of the second floor, which leads directly into the main reception rooms and the suites that immediately communicate with the foyer, the Louis XIV and XVI parlors, the Marie Antoinette suite, and the Empire parlor.



It is not easy to exaggerate the picturesque beauty of the Louis XIV parlor. The scheme of color is low toned, the entire decorations serving as a bright but subdued background for the individuals occupying the apartment.

The woodwork is in harmony with the wall decorations, and is finished in French enamel. The ceiling is formed of a large canvas, upon which cupids supporting the Savoy arms are painted.

The window draperies are of heavy moire silk of a tan shade, underneath which are curtains of costly lace, the chairs being upholstered with brocade in harmony with the coloring of the walls. The concord of the various decorations constitute an exquisite harmony, wherein the light of the painter's brush shines with particular effulgence (radiant splendor: brilliance. This room was occupied by Prince Antonio, the husband of the Princess Eulalia of Spain, while entertained by the United States Government. The Louis XVI reception room is composed of three different parlors en suite, the general color being ivory and gold. The walls of the first apartment entered from the foyer are covered with yellow striped damask.

The Scotch Axminster carpet is in a delicate shade of red. Among the appointments of the room there is a center divan, upholstered in red silk, with elaborate hand embroidery, supporting a magnificent candelabrum. An interesting array of pictures contributes sparkling effects to the walls. Entering the second section of the reception room, we discover an apartment no less artistic, and fully as beautiful as the one we have just examined, the walls being paneled with rich silk tapestry. This parlor and the third of the series are in reality a single apartment, divided in the center by a richly decorated beam supporting the ceiling, which rests on classic pillars.

A large central panel is filled with painted tapestry representing cupids, flowers and sky effects, that bestows a light and gracious air to the apartment.

The third parlor of the series is like the others, with this difference, however, that the wall panels are draped with green brocade silk, which gives a sumptuous air to the interior. The carpet is maroon. The furniture in both sections of the interior is in the Louis XVI style, the framework being gilt, and the material in the upho'stery the same costly fabric that adorns the walls.

The general impression of the Louis XVI reception room is one of luxury without affectation, the decoration of the walls, the hangings, the furniture and the pictures being tokens of a refined and intelligent appreciation of beauty.



Reluctant though the visitor may be to leave this charming room, we say that he will find a still greater delight in the lovely Marie Antoinette suite, this being a climax of dainty decorative effect. Here again the style is Louis XVI in its most delightful mood. Happy is the guest who has an opportunity of inspecting the parlor with the alcove bedroom of this suite. The very aroma of the life of a French grande dame of the eighteenth century prevades this bijou (something delicate, elegant, or highly prized) retreat. The window draperies are unusually fine, being most artistically draped from the cornices of carved wood. The carpet is soft ecru. The furniture was specially imported and is of the most recherché type (rare, exotic, or obscure). This suite is an exact copy of the apartments of Marie Antoinette in the Petite Trianon at Versailles (Petit Trianon, built between 1762 and 1768 during the reign of Louis XV, is a small château located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in Versailles, France.). In the adjoining room the bed is of carved satin wood, the draperies being of shell pink silk, with a covering of Irish point lace. Every object is one of beauty and interest, as well as usefulness.

It was in these apartments that the Princess Infanta Eulalia of Spain was entertained during her stay in New York as the guest of the nation, and it was from the windows of this parlor that she saw the flower of the citizen soldiery of New York pass by to do her honor.



The feeling aroused by the decorations of the Empire parlor is distinctively a feeling of French classicism brought into being by the mandate of the First Napoleon. It was also in the eighteenth century that mahogany first began to be imported from tropical America, and the beauty of this noble wood suggested it as a fitting vehicle for the elaboration of this modern version of classic art.

In accordance with decorative traditions, we find the woodwork of the Empire parlor constructed of the finest San Domingo mahogany, enriched with gold bronze mountings in the Empire style. The ceiling is decorated in a pale salmon color. The window curtains are of green lace, on which is appliqued an Empire pattern in gold embroidery. The furniture is upholstered with an old gold brocade like the wall covering. This apartment was occupied by the Duke of Tamanes, of the suite of the Princess Eulalia, and is one of the finest rooms in the hotel. The more intimate one becomes with its details the more he longs to stay and to admire.

These various reception rooms are the crowning glory of the Savoy, and form a series of apartments unequaled for beauty of appointment and splendor of effect. While extremely rich and satisfying, these interiors are at the same time homelike and comfortable.

From the foyer we enter the private dining room, where we find an abode of luxury in the style of that pleasure-loving monarch, Louis XV, and the result is one of impressive beauty. The woodwork of the apartment is in ivory enamel. The walls and ceiling are paneled with painted tapestries in soft, low-toned colors. The overdoor panels are in much brighter tones, and consist of floral effects.

The portieres (a curtain hung over a door or doorway) and draperies are of turquoise blue lampas brocade (luxury fabric with a background weft), lined with old gold silk.

The Carpet is an Aubusson weave specially designed for the room, and the furniture is in satin wood, richly upholstered in old gold plush.

The dining room, while of small dimensions, is rendered spacious by the ante-room adjoining, which is decorated in cream and gold. In this room the Princess Eulalia gave many elaborate banquets to the aristocracy of New York.

Going from the private dining room to the old English breakfast room, we find a high wainscot of antique oak, stained green, enriched with columns supporting the ceiling which are constructed of the same material. The chairs are upholstered in olive plush, and on the back are embroidered the Savoy arms. The oak cabinets and sideboard furnished with the finest of cut glass fill the room with an air of cheerfulness. The apartment as a whole conveys an impression of the substantial period of the early English. There is no lavish display, and the dignity of the various appointments furnishes an admirable background to the brightness of the dejeuner (a midday meal) on the tables. This room is also used for large private dinners, suppers and receptions given by the elite of New York.



Much of the fine cabinet work as well as the antique carvings of many of the chairs of the Savoy was done by the well-known firm of Messrs. Theo. Hofstatter & Co., 818 Broadway, New York.

On visiting the private reading and writing room, which is a much appreciated section, we find the woodwork, including the doors, is in the finest mahogany, the floor being in oak parquetry. The ceiling is enriched with octagonal panels in gold and green.

The furniture, which includes desks and easy chairs, is in mahogany inlaid with brass marquetry. Standards in gold bronze, bearing electric lamps, adorn each desk. The apartment is an additional evidence of the care that characterizes the entire construction and equipment of the hotel.



The fact that the hotel has been only recently built and decorated throughout, means that the very latest designs of furniture have been made use of in the private parlors and bedrooms. Beds in mahogany, satin wood, maple, brass, folding, etc., are designed in chaste and artistic lines, and are greatly admired by those best capable of appreciating them.

The bathrooms, one hundred and forty-five in number, have mosaic floors and enameled tiled walls. The toilet articles are of the most approved style, and equal if they do not surpass those of any hotel in the world. All of the plumbing is nickel-plated and exposed to view. Bathrooms are ventilated not only by a ventilator shaft, but also by electric exhaust fans at the roof, connected with the various bathrooms by a direct system of ventilating piping, thus insuring the guest against any accumulation of foul air.



The multitudes of private parlors and bedrooms, either singly or en suite, are similarly furnished, and believed to be unexcelled. The chambers upon the eleventh story are as well equipped as those upon the ground floors, and in these furnishings they were ably assisted by the well-known firm of The Hale & Kilburn Manufacturing Company, of New York and Philadelphia, who, as the original inventors of the folding bed, undoubtedly stand at the head in their line, producing a perfectly safe and reliable article. This make of folding bed is conceded to lead all others in the important points of originality and beauty of design, thoroughness of construction, and durability and elegance of finish. Their use has added greatly to the comfort and convenience of guests, for with a folding bed one is enabled to remove all appearance of a sleeping apartment, turning the bedroom into a parlor. Such beds, when folded, are made to perfectly represent the most beautiful pieces of artistic furniture, suitable for parlor or library use, such as cabinets, book cases, etc., and even what is apparently an upright piano by day is instantly converted into a comfortable bed by night.



The café and billiard hall is a spacious apartment in the basement of the building, decorated in the Greek style. The furniture and general furnishings of the apartment are in the French Renaissance style, and there is a magnificently fitted up bar of special construction with mirrors and costly glassware. One end of the apartment is utilized as a billiard hall, with every artistic accessory of this noble amusement. A feature of the decorations is the construction of a fountain contained in a niche in the main wall, which is decorated with colored glass mosaic. On one side of the basin is a bronze figure of Silenus (a forest spirit) holding a crown of vine branches, around which is wreathed a snake blowing a gas jet from its mouth.

On making a tour of the kitchen the most ample provision is found for the alimentary care of guests, which is a most important of part of the hotel. Not merely all delight in life, but existence itself depends on proper food, and the reputation of the cuisine of a hotel is the foundation of its success. Of what use are magnificent apartments if the cooking be neglected? The managers of the hotel, jealous of their reputation as to cuisine, have devoted time and labor in selecting the personnel of their cooks for efficiency, and in equipping the kitchen with the most improved as well as the best of culinary utensils and appliances.



Another thing beneficial and of great importance is the enormous laundry machinery, which consists of brass cylinders, the most perfect of their kind. In addition to the machines used for laundering the house linen, a special plant was supplied for the work of the guests, and this is unexcelled in any modern hotel.

A most interesting section of the basement from a scientific or sanitary standpoint is that part wherein is situated the Ice Making and Refrigerating Machinery, which is used to produce the pure, dry, cold air required for cooling the numerous cold storage apartments and refrigerator boxes which are required in such a large hotel as the Savoy for the storage and preservation of the various food products, wines, delicacies and other perishable substances used in catering to the wants of its patrons.

This Refrigerating Machinery was furnished by the well-known firm of engineers, Frick Company, of Waynesboro, Pa., and was specially constructed for the Hotel Savoy, and contains all their latest improvements. Besides supplying the cold air for maintaining a constant low temperature in the refrigerating boxes and rooms, the plant is equipped with a complete Distilling and Ice Making Apparatus for the producing of perfectly pure distilled and purified drinking water, which is the most perfect of its kind, the water being pronounced by chemists and physicians to be free from all impurities, germs, and equal to any table water that can be obtained from other sources or by any means whatever.

The pure distilled water thus obtained is used for filling the ice-freezing moulds, about 4,000 pounds of pure crystal block ice being made, besides 1,200 carafes of the hygienic distilled water are frozen for table use daily. [Ice machine, capacity 4,000 lbs. daily.]

The capacity of the machinery is equal to producing fifteen tons of refrigeration each twenty-four hours. The plant contains a duplicate machine of equal capacity to prevent any delay or inconvenience in case of temporary stoppage or accident.

Hotel Savoy, Fifty-Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, New York City. Designed, Compiled and Arranged by O. D. Kisner, Published by Hotel Savoy, New York. (1893) -- From original text, may contain overlooked ocr errors.

Read More: Savoy-Plaza Hotel


Harry S. Black, the owner of the nearby Plaza Hotel, bought the Savoy Hotel, built in 1890, and demolished it along with the adjacent buildings on the block to build a newer companion to the older establishment

The Hotel Savoy was replaced in 1927 by the Savoy Plaza Hotel, a McKim, Mead, and *White beauty razed in 1964 to make way for the 50-story GM Building. (* Stanford White in Evelyn Nesbit's Life)




Decorations and furnishings of the Hotel Savoy.



Firms instrumental in building Hotel Savoy



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