Lost Washington: The Raleigh Hotel

Raleigh Hotel ca. 1915The 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.

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.
Raleigh Hotel at Night

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

The Raleigh was well know 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 after the jumpLobby of Raleigh Hotel with man reading newspaper in foregroundDining area in Raleigh Hotel, with columns and chandelierDining room in Raleigh Hotel
Raleigh Hotel


3 Responses to “Lost Washington: The Raleigh Hotel”

  1. I have in my possession an old clothes hanger “Property of the Raleigh Hotel, Washington D. C.” made in Milwaukee by the Phoenix company. It is wood, a 3/4 inch band formed to support a shirt, jacket etc. with a metal hook and a cross rod for trousers. Probably pilfered by my grandfather . . . I would like to know about other such items from the Raleigh. Thanks.

  2. I too have a wooden hanger that reads “Hotel Raleigh, Washington 4, D.C. It bears no maker, but unlike yours mine is a coat hanger and not a suit hanger. I believethe hangers were used as a form of “advertisement” for the hotel. I love it and got it via an auction for mere change. 🙂

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