HOTEL IRVIN passeth unto history

So how come I’m showing some blank walls on this “one shot” page? It’s all in what used to be there. I’m at the corner of 8th Avenue and West 30th in Manhattan, in the shadow of Penn Station — a corner I  found so interesting I once devoted an entire ForgottenSlice page to it. But its chief attraction has now passeth unto history.


The painted ad advertising what was once the Hotel Irvin and its nightly rates is now just a blank white wall. I yield to my betters on some matters, and on these, Walter Grutchfield is  nonpareil. I’ll repeat his research for the Hotel Irvin here.

The Hotel Irvin for Women was named for Mary M. Irvin (Mrs. Richard Irvin), president of the organization that worked for many years to create this residence. As early as 1914 the group planned a hotel “where self-supporting girls and women with small incomes could be accommodated comfortably and well at little cost.” (Quoting New York Times Feb. 21,1916, p.11.)

But it was not until 1924 that the group managed to acquire the land and begin construction here at 308 W 30th St. By that time the corporation consisted of Asher Mayer, president, and Charles H. Strong, treasurer. The hotel opened in 1925, “for exclusive occupany by business women,” with apartments “arranged in small flexible units with facilities for self-housekeeping” and rents “adjusted on a basis to meet the big demand that exists for this type of housing.” (Quoting here the New York Times July 4, 1924, p. 20.)

In the early 1940s the Irvin seems to have dropped the women-only policy. They went out of business in the mid-1950s.

An ad for the Hotel Irvin from 1948 shows double room rates at $2.50 up. By 1952 the double rate was $4.00.

You can’t blame a  property owner for wanting to spruce up the property, and there really isn’t  a way to preserve these “fading ad” artifacts…except for photography.

Always carry a camera.


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3 Responses to HOTEL IRVIN passeth unto history

  1. Bilby says:

    Why can’t you blame the owner for this? Unless there was some structural defect or other issue (e.g. water ingress issue with the brick), there is no need to repaint a perfectly good historic brick wall. It’s more likely a lack of education about the value of historic places in cities, or an anti-landmark sentiment that leads to the destruction of these relics of our urban past. All up, not a disaster, but it makes the world a slightly poorer place.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      I wish the owner hadn’t repainted it, but short of landmarking the sign (and there’s no precedent for that) there’s nothing that can really be done.

  2. Louise says:

    I, too, am sorry when such old signs are obliterated. They are like ghosts of a bygone era. They always make me wonder what NYC life was like when the sign was painted. They call this progress.

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