Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

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Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel
Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey.png
postcard, Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel
General information
Status Demolished
Location Atlantic City, New Jersey
Address 1900 Pacific Avenue
Coordinates 39°21′25″N 74°25′39.88″W / 39.35694°N 74.4277444°W / 39.35694; -74.4277444
Construction started 1902
Topped-out 1906
Opening 1906
Closed 1977
Demolished 1978-79
Owner Josiah White III
Design and construction
Architect Will Price
postcard, Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a historic resort hotel property in Atlantic City, New Jersey, built in 1902-1906, and demolished in October 1978.[1][2]


In 1900, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land between Ohio Avenue and Park Place on the Boardwalk, and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House.[3] The hotel was financially successful and, in 1905, he chose to expand. White hired Philadelphia architect Will Price of Price and McLanahan to design a new, separate tower to be called the Blenheim. "Blenheim" refers to Blenheim Palace in England, the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, a grandson of the Duke of Marlborough.

Recent hotel fires in and around Atlantic City, Price's recent experience of designing the all-concrete Jacob Reed store in Philadelphia, and a steel strike in the fall of 1905 influenced Price's choice of reinforced concrete for the tower. It opened in 1906.[4][5]

It was not the first reinforced concrete hotel in the world, as French concrete pioneer François Hennebique had designed the Imperial Palace Hotel in Nice five years previously. But it was the largest reinforced concrete building in the world.[6] The hotel’s Spanish and Moorish themes, capped off with its signature dome and chimneys, represented a step forward from other hotels that had a classically designed influence.

In 1916, Winston Churchill was a guest of the hotel.

In 1977 Reese Palley and local attorney and businessman Martin Blatt bought the Marlborough-Blenheim and planned to preserve the Blenheim half of the hotel, along with adjacent Dennis Hotel for his Park Place Casino.[7] Palley was successful in getting the Blenheim part of the hotel placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, while planning to raze the Marlborough to make way for a new modern hotel. Ten days later, he stepped aside when Bally Manufacturing purchased a controlling interest in the project.[8] After Bally took control, they announced plans to raze the Marlborough-Blenheim and the adjacent Dennis Hotel, despite protests, to make way for the new "Bally's Park Place Casino and Hotel". However, in an effort to offset costs and get the casino opened as fast as they could they chose to keep the Dennis Hotel, which would serve as the temporary hotel for Bally's until a new tower was built.

Bally demolished the wood-framed Marlborough with the conventional wrecking ball. For the Blenheim the company hired Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) and Winzinger Incorporated of Hainesport New Jersey, which had taken down the Traymore Hotel, to implode the structure. A preservation group which had sought historic status for the building won a stay of execution for the Blenheim’s rotunda portion on the Boardwalk. It was separated from the rest of the hotel, which was imploded in the fall of 1978. Several months later its historic status was denied, the stay was lifted, and CDI finished the demolition January 4, 1979.[9][10] It is not known if they sold the name Marlborough-Blenheim as well.

Bally's Park Place now stands at this location.

In culture

The hotel features prominently in the 1972 Bob Rafelson film The King of Marvin Gardens, starring Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern and Ellen Burstyn.

In the Garry Marshall film Beaches, a young Hillary Whitney stays with her family at the hotel, where she treats a young C. C. Bloom to chocolate sodas in the Garden Court. The scene was filmed at the Ambassador Hotel (Los Angeles).

In the HBO television show Boardwalk Empire, the fictionalized Nucky Thompson lives on the 8th floor of a Ritz-Carlton whose architecture is based on the Marlborough-Blenheim's, rather than that of the actual Ritz-Carlton in Atlantic City that the real Nucky Johnson had lived in. The Blenheim hotel is mentioned throughout the series.

A clip of the demolition of the main dome of the hotel is featured in the video for Bruce Springsteen's song "Atlantic City."

See also

Winzinger Inc. of Hainesport, New Jersey was the demolition contractor of the hotels along with CDI who controlled and planned the explosives. Heidi Winzinger's song "Queen of Atlantic City" is a folk rock song dedicated to the Blenheim Hotel's memory.


  1. ^ "Beach Skyscraper Open; Marlborough-Belnheim Open--Boardwalk Crowded" (PDF), The New York Times, March 14, 1906, retrieved 2011-06-23
  2. ^ "Atlantic City Early Hotels". Monopoly Retrieved 2011-07-05.
  3. ^ Thomas, George E. "MARLBOROUGH HOTEL: HABS NO. NJ-863" (PDF). HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington , D.C 20013. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  4. ^ "Beach Skyscraper Open; Marlborough-Belnheim Open--Boardwalk Crowded" Check |url= value (help), The New York Times, March 14, 1906, retrieved 2011-06-23 [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Thomas, George E. "Blenheim Hotel: HABS NO. NJ-864" (PDF). HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington , D.C 20013. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  6. ^ Concrete: the vision of a new architecture By Peter Collins
  7. ^ Janson, Donald (March 15, 1977), "Marlborough-Blenheim Acquired By Reese Palley to Set up a Casino", The New York Times, pp. Section New Jersey Pages, Page 79, retrieved 2011-06-23, Reese Palley, the widely known flamboyant art dealer, announced today that he and an associate had purchased the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel and would spend $35 million on renovations to qualify it for a casino gambling license.
  8. ^ "Reese Palley". Retrieved 2011-06-23. I bought 27 acres at Park Place and Boardwalk (See Monopoly) one year after gambling was voted in New Jersey. Not having any money I bought a 16 million dollar property from eager sellers with $100,000 down and an enormous mortgage due in nine months. Ten days after the papers were signed I sold the property to Bally, took some of the money, bought a sailboat and sailed around the world for the next twenty years.
  9. ^ Spatz, David (October 18, 2009). "Kaboom!". Atlantic City Weekly. Archived from the original on October 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  10. ^ "HABS NJ,1-ATCI,3- (sheet 1 of 14) - Blenheim Hotel, Ohio Avenue & Boardwalk, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, NJ". Retrieved 2015-01-01.

Coordinates: 39°21′20″N 74°25′54″W / 39.3556°N 74.4317°W / 39.3556; -74.4317

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