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A Short History of the Taft Hotel in New Haven, CT

Posted on May 1, 2013 by Karin • Filed under: ,

In 1910 the New Haven House, a key location for the social gatherings that hosted every President from Ulysses S. Grant to William Howard Taft, was to be demolished because there were plans to create a modern hotel designed by F. M. Andrews & Company. On January 1, 1912, The Hotel Taft, named after President Taft, held its grand opening.

The new 12-story hotel had 300 guest rooms that ranged from singles to suites and  included a grand lobby, dining room, ballroom, reading room, bar, writing room, Ladies’ lounge, barber shop, a Palm Room for dining, and a basement speak-easy.

At the time of its construction, the Taft Hotel was the tallest building in the city and hosted an array of guests from Albert Einstein to Wodrow Wilson and Babe Ruth. Because the hotel was located right next to the Shubert Theater, a space where many shows premiered before heading to Broadway, famous celebrities such as Mary Martin and Marlon Brandow stayed at the hotel during their show runs. The infamous Rogers and Hammerstein even rewrote the hit “Oklahoma” while residing at the Taft. President Taft himself lived in the building for eight years while he was teaching at Yale Law School.

The hotel became a popular venue for social events and for housing guests during the first half of the 20th Century, but later, occupancy wained and Hotel Taft closed in 1973.  The building was renovated and reopened as The Taft Apartments in 1981, and is currently occupied by Yale affiliated tenants.

The main dining room has been at times a restaurant, a bar and a nightclub. On March 27, 2013, it was restored, renovated and reopened as Roìa Restaurant.

Sources:
New York Times
A Guide to Historic New Haven, CT (2007) Colin M. Caplan
Architects’ and Builders’ Magazine; Volume 43
Architects’ and Builders’ Magazine; Volume 44

Image Source:
Architects’ and Builders’ Magazine; Volume 44

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