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Mayflower Hotel Company (Washington, DC)

$35.00

SKU: 2447
Product Details

Beautifully engraved antique stock certificate from the Mayflower Hotel Company dating back to the 1920's. This document, which is signed by the company Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer, was printed by the Young & Belden Company of Baltimore and measures approximately 12" (w) by 9 1/4" (h). 

 

This certificate's vignette features a nice rendition of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC.

You will receive the exact certificate pictured.

Historical Context

The Mayflower Hotel opened on February 18, 1925. The hotel sat on 1.5 acres of land, and had roughly 100,000 square feet of interior space. Several heating oil furnaces and one of the world's largest air conditioning units kept the hotel at an even 70 °F year round. The hotel's promenade, as completed, was 26 feet wide and 300 feet long.

The hotel had 440 guest rooms, each with its own shower bath. Guest suites had a sitting room, dining room, bath, and up to seven bedrooms. The hotel's 500 residential guest apartments each had its own kitchenette, dining room, and drawing room with fireplace. Some had as many as 11 rooms, and up to five baths.

The cruciform lobby had a mezzanine on the north, west, and south sides, and marble-clad piers divided the north and south walls into three bays. A small cocktail lounge was located along the north wall, while the reception desk occupied the south wall. The lobby received light from a coffered skylight. Four great bronze torchères, hand-wrought and trimmed with gold, dominated the lobby (and were claimed by the hotel to be "priceless"). The main lobby entrance on Connecticut Avenue had a stairway that led down to the first below-ground level, where public restrooms, the barber shop, and a shoeshine stand (made of marble) were located. A secondary corridor and steps behind the elevators led to the Presidential Room; another secondary corridor to the east of the front desk led to the Mayflower Coffee Shop. The four elevators to the east of the lobby, joining it to the Promenade, had bronze doors with images of the Mayflower vessel on them.

The Mayflower featured three restaurants. The Palm Court featured a glass dome supported by iron latticework, numerous palm trees, and a marble fountain and pool with water lilies growing in it. The Presidential Restaurant was decorated with the seals of the Thirteen Colonies. Both were located on the main floor. The Garden Terrace was located on the first below-ground floor. The Italianate style room featured a coffered ceiling done in copper, a marble fountain, plaster walls in warm pastel tints, alcoves designed to look like arbors, and murals of early Washington, D.C., and nearby Mount Vernon.

The hotel's Grand Ballroom featured a stage with proscenium, beneath which was a hidden thrust stage that could be projected out into the ballroom. The Grand Ballroom's main entrance was on 17th Street, where a covered, semi-circular carriageway allowed up to three carriages at a time to unload patrons. The hotel also had several small, private ballrooms for more intimate events. Next to the ballroom on the 17th Street side was the Chinese Room—a sumptuous meeting and banqueting room inspired by The Peacock Room by James McNeill Whistler.

The Mayflower Hotel's interior design was created by E.S. Bullock of Albert Pick & Co. The furnishings, which cost $1.25 million ($14,643,691 in 2018 dollars), were antique and reproduction pieces in the Sheraton, Louis Quinze, and early Renaissance styles. "Walls, floors, stairs, pilasters and wainscoting in the lobby and the major function rooms [were] clad in a wide array of American and imported marbles, and ceilings and walls throughout the first floor and mezzanine [were] ornamented by finely cast, low-relief plaster decorations, often further embellished with gold leaf." The use of gold gilt to trim decoration was extensive; newspapers said the hotel contained more gold trim than any other building except the Library of Congress. Original artworks, some by quite famous artists, adorned the public spaces. These included four larger-than-life-sized portraits of the first four presidents by painter and muralist Louis Grell of Chicago. Three marble statuary groups were also displayed in the lobby and public areas: La Sirene by Denys Puech; Flora by William Couper; and The Lost Pleiad (also known as Merope Married a Mortal) by Randolph Rogers. Two smaller pieces by Rogers, Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii and Boy and Dog, were also on display.

The Mayflower Hotel offered guests amenities unparalleled among hotels in the United States. This included air conditioning in all the public rooms (the first time a hotel had used air conditioning on such a large scale), and ice water and fans in all guest rooms. Services included daily maid service, a laundry, a barber shop, a beauty salon, a garage for automobiles, a telephone switchboard, and a small hospital staffed by a doctor.

Construction of the Annex

With the Mayflower Hotel finished but not yet furnished in September 1924, plans were made to enlarge the structure even before it opened. The new owners perceived high demand for guest room suites, and quickly designed a $1 million ($14,286,528 in 2018 dollars) addition.

The most prominent features of the Annex were the Presidential Suite and the Vice Presidential Suite. The Presidential Suite occupied the 10th floor, and was decorated in green and gold in the Italianate style. The Vice Presidential Suite occupied the ninth floor, and was decorated in dull and bright yellow in the Louis XVI style. Each suite had 13 rooms, which included a foyer, drawing room, library, secretary's room, dining room, and five bedrooms—each with its own bath and kitchenette. Each suite also had a maid's room, with an attached bath. The furnishings of both suites were copies of museum pieces. The Presidential Suite featured a marquetry table with ormolu fittings; a Louis XVI cabinet with painted panels; Oriental rugs; bronze and marble urns in the Neoclassical style; drapes of silk damask; and underdrapes of silk taffeta. The suite's dining room featured Queen Anne style furniture. The Vice Presidential Suite featured a dining room with furniture in the Sheraton and Hepplewhite styles. Dining room furniture in both suites was manufactured from satin-walnut, and featured painted decorations and marquetry. The bedrooms in both suites featured Louis XVI-, Adam-, and Federal-style furniture made of satinwood, walnut, and mahogany. Each piece was painted, lacquered, or marquetried. Dust-covers for the beds were also of taffeta. Sofas and chairs in each suite were upholstered in imported brocades, while the walls were covered in hand-made tapestries. Each suite had numerous shaded lamps, porcelain and crystal art objects, and gilt mirrors. Original oil and watercolor paintings as well as etchings and engravings—many of them by famous artists—decorated the suites. Each suite's bathroom was completely tiled in white, with silver-plated fixtures for the sink and shower, an engraved glass shower door, and a Swiss shower. The kitchens, too, were tiled in white, and contained an electric stove and oven, a Frigidaire refrigerator, silver tableware, complete porcelain table setting, and fine table linens.

The second through eighth floors of the Annex contained guest suites. Each suite had five bedrooms, and each bedroom had its own bath. The first floor of the Annex was occupied by the Mayflower Coffee Shop, a vastly expanded version of the highly popular but extremely small café located on the ground floor of the existing hotel. The basement of the Annex occupied by a huge laundry, which served the hotel and annex.

Bankruptcy of the 1930s

On March 31, 1928, the Mayflower Hotel's bonds were refinanced by the American Bond & Mortgage Co. (the successor to C.C. Mitchell & Co.).

The Great Depression had a significant impact on the Mayflower Hotel. It lost money (as much as $760,000 over two years), and in 1929 its affairs were placed in the hands of a special committee established by American Bond & Mortgage. The hotel continued to lose money, and on May 22, 1931, holders of the hotel's original bonds secured a ruling that the hotel was bankrupt. American Bond was declared bankrupt the same day. The receivers later alleged that the hotel had lost more than $2 million since it opened, and that American Bond had issued a large amount of bonds with the hotel as security (worsening the hotel's financial status). American Bond won dismissal of the bankruptcy ruling on June 26, A second bankruptcy was declared by the court on July 28, 1925. Fraud charges were later levied against officials of American Bond & Mortgage. American Bond finally admitted the hotel was bankrupt in October 1931.

Holders of the second bonds (issued with the hotel as security), however, feared that they would receive nothing if the Mayflower were foreclosed. They petitioned a court to remove the receivers and to appoint new trustees who would sell the hotel. The court agreed, and the sale began to move forward in 1933. Concerned about the sale, Senators Hamilton Fish Kean and Robert Rice Reynolds began an investigation into the bankruptcy and sale. In 1933, Kean and Reynolds won congressional approval in June 1934 for the Corporate Bankruptcy Act, which allowed the Mayflower Hotel itself to declare bankruptcy and refinance itself. With the receivers having made the hotel profitable once more, the hotel reorganized its finances in a court-approval bankruptcy proceeding on December 20, 1934.

Early in World War II, the skylight in the Palm Court was covered over with a mural painting. The skylight was later flocked with pieces of velvet.

Hilton

In December 1946, Hilton Hotels Corporation purchased the Mayflower Hotel for $2.6 million. Some stockholders challenged the sale, arguing the price was too low. A court dismissed the suit in May 1947. Over the next decade, Hilton Hotels spent about $1 million refurbishing the guest rooms and public spaces. Hilton Hotels purchased the Statler Hotels chain in 1954, and as a result owned multiple large hotels in many major cities, as in Washington, where they now owned the Mayflower and the Statler Hotel. Soon after, the federal government filed an antitrust action against Hilton. To resolve the suit, Hilton agreed to sell a number of their hotels, including the Mayflower Hotel.

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