Greater Greater Washington

Lost Washington: The Raleigh Hotel

The Raleigh Hotel got its start in 1893 when the Shepherd Centennial Building on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, NW, was converted from commercial use into the hotel by Washington architect Leon E. Dessez.


Raleigh Hotel ca. 1915.

The hotel expanded quickly. In 1897 three additional floors were added. In 1898 New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh designed a major addition in the center of 12th Street to the north of the original building. The building was enlarged by Hardenbergh again in 1905. By 1911, the original building was considered too dated and razed for Hardenbergh's new, Beaux Arts, thirteen-story main hotel building facing Pennsylvania Avenue.

The builder's demand for height caused Congress to change the height limit for Pennsylvania Avenue from 130 feet to 160 feet in 1910.

Raleigh Hotel at Night

The Raleigh was well known for good food, drink, and entertainment. It was equally regarded for the beauty of its architectural details, such as the decoration of the gold-and-white ballroom on the top floor.

Raleigh Hotel

It was a prosperous hotel, though it lost some of its business to the Mayflower Hotel when it opened. One of the factors that made the Raleigh such a success was its manager, Curt C. Schiffeler, who managed to create a warm and informal atmosphere that pleased the guests. Schiffeler remained at the Raleigh until he retired in 1954. By then newer hotels were drawing patronage away. The Raleigh was razed ten years later in 1964.

More images below.

Lobby of Raleigh Hotel with man reading newspaper in foreground

Dining area in Raleigh Hotel, with columns and chandelier

Dining room in Raleigh Hotel

Raleigh Hotel
Kent Boese posts items of historic interest primarily within the District. He's worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He lives in the Park View neighborhood, and is the force behind the blog Washington Kaleidoscope

Comments

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Some Shorpy love:

http://www.shorpy.com/node/5075

by eck on Jul 17, 2009 5:08 pm • linkreport

From the 1930 edition of the Southeastern Official AAA Tour Book-- Centrally located, 475 rooms, 319 baths. European plan: single $3 to $4 without bath, $4 to $6 with bath; double $4 to $6 without bath, $5 to $10 with bath. Main dining room and coffee shop: a la carte and table d'hote service. Breakfast 75c, dinner $1.50.
To put the numbers in some perspective, rooms at the Willard, with bath were single $5-8, double $7-15. At the Mayflower, single $5-15, double $7-18.

by rextrex on Jul 20, 2009 10:58 pm • linkreport

Does anyone have or know of how to get any information on the chefs of the Raleigh Hotel during the early 1900's-1910-1920? My grandfather was a chef at the Hotel.

by june on Jul 4, 2010 1:13 pm • linkreport

My uncle, Kurt Schiffeler, ran the hotel for years. I wonder if anyone can tell me more about him. My mother stayed there as a child, as she was raised by Kurt and Mary. I have some relics such as a book which my mother wrote notes in and placed herself at the hotel in June 29, 1938. Also, some photos of lily Pons, two painting by Agnes Stone (wife of Harlan Fisk Stone. Both of my parents passed when I was a child. I am writing a book about the family. Any information from anyone who knew them is greatly appreciated. Vala Huenink

by vala huenink on Feb 8, 2011 10:42 am • linkreport

Dear Vala,

We are related by blood: My father, Carl, was Curt's elder brother. I would appreciate getting in touch with you, especially to learn more about your writing endeavors about our family. Hopefully, you will eventually receive this comment and you will reach me through my e-mail address. With this thought in mind, I remain,

Most cordially yours,

John Wm. Schiffeler

by John Wm Schiffeler on Jul 10, 2011 1:49 pm • linkreport

My great grandfather worked for a time at the Raleigh Hotel. He eventually become a successful restauranteur in St. Petersburg, Florida. His name was Otto Simpson and probably worked there between 1906 and 1910. Here is an article about him.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=h_VPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MFUDAAAAIBAJ&dq=clay%20simpson&pg=3590%2C4542990

by Troy Simpson on Apr 17, 2012 6:07 pm • linkreport

My father played trumpet in the band at the Raleigh hotel - probably in the late 1930's or early 40's. I would like very much to know if there are photos of the band during those years. My father's name was David Cole. Thanks so much for any assistance.

by Sharon Johnston on Apr 24, 2012 12:28 am • linkreport

in 1944- 3 girls from port huron . Mich. took the train from detroit to was.d.c.- we stayed at the then Raleigh Hotel- we went there to visit a friend who was in the WAVES and stationed in wa.d.c.- im not sure which floor our room was on- but one night we went out to dinner to a x chinese restr- royal casino - when we came back there had been a murder on our floor[ i think]- it was a priest- they found his body in a closet-scared the daylights out of us !! well that is what i remember- about my first trip to Wa D.C.i have a pic taken outside the front door of us 3 girls?

by E. Madeline [sandersom] Goss on Jan 21, 2013 8:53 pm • linkreport

My 3xgreat uncle,artist Charles Yardley Turner, painted 10 wall murals (oil on canvas) for the wing built in 1900 by architect Henry Hardenbergh. Does anyone know if any of the wall murals were saved before the building was demolished in 1964? Apparently 9 panels were in the Rathskeller (lounge or bar in the Hotel?)

by Barbara Chalmers on Apr 5, 2014 10:01 am • linkreport

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