Historic Structures

Building Description Dennis Hotel, Atlantic City New Jersey

Because the hotel was built in an age when activity was concentrated in the public spaces of the hotel, and not in the private rooms, the architectural attention was concentrated on lobbies, entrance spaces and dining rooms, while comparatively little embellishment was given to the guest chambers and corridors.

The principal entrance to the hotel leads from Michigan Avenue into a stately hall that opens on the right into a brightly lighted bay on the left into a tightly curved stair that leads to the Exchange Floor Lobby. Flattened groin vaults give unity to the hall and establish it as one of the hotel's important spaces.

The travertine stair wi.th curved landing of the entrance hall ascends to the largest of the hotel's public spaces, the balconied lobby or lounge. Its detailing reflects the polyglot nature of the exterior, having both an anglicizing decorative plaster ceiling and a baroque fireplace. The considerable height of the lobby is reduced by the balcony, which recalls the Bellevue Stratford. The balcony provides an aesthetic experience by raising the eye level to the height of the immense pier capitals, radically altering the sense of scale of the viewer. The total ensemble of entrance, lobby and balcony are the most important public spaces in the hotel.

The dining room is a handsomely scaled elliptically vaulted columnar hall, opening onto an aisle on the Michigan Avenue side. Fan lights above the colonnade give the room a light open air, while preserving the sense of a great hall. At its end, the dining room is terminated by a flattened pannelled dome which was presumably glazed. Spaces such as these graced many of the great American hotels of the previous generation -- notably the Bellevue Stratford in Philadelphia, whose Stratford Garden and Burgundy Room set the regional standard imitated here.

The 1926 tower was given a public suite decorated with the handsome generously scaled ornament common to the period.