The Hotel Plaza

Plaza Club Hotel

Hotel Plaza- Camden, NJ. 11.2010 ©sbethy

OK, this place is amazing.  Located in Camden, I first saw it coming home from a Riversharks game and I was immediately intrigued.  Let’s start by saying you probably know Camden (if at all) for it’s pretty bad reputation.  It has definitely spent some time as the nations most dangerous city (most recently in 2009– while Colonie, NY was ranked as the nations safest- Shot out!).  But what people often forget is that Camden was once a unbelievably vibrant and industrial city.
It’s hard for me to be in Camden and not because I fear for my life, but because the proof of the city’s opulant past is on every street and there is so much frustration in the fact that the city is at such a low point.  The bones are still there, the city just needs a lot of help. That’s the ironic thing about a city in such a state of urban decay.  Because Camden is in the state it’s in, there is no desire for development. Meaning, no one is coming in razing existing buildings to build CVS’ and Targets so the great architectural infrastructure is still standing (for the most part).  On the other hand, all these great buildings are sitting empty for so long it’s a shame there is no use for them and unfortunately by the time Camden does has the use for them, chances are they’ll be structurally unsound.

This isn’t a post on Camden itself as I’m not an expert.  All I know is that it used to be a prosperous city and now it’s not.  At all.  But just in case you don’t know about Camden a brief  50ish word lesson to bring you up to date-
In the late 19th and early 20th century it was a transportation hub and home to thriving woolen mills, carriage factories, blacksmiths, and even the Victor Talking Machine Company (eventually RCA Victor), as these manufacturers left Camden it’s economic downturn began and unfortunately it hasn’t stopped.  Today, Camden is most known for its aquarium, baseball team, Campbells Soup Company headquarters and its dangerous reputation.

Now onto the amazing, sadly abandoned Hotel Plaza.  There is VERY little I was able to find online about the hotel which makes this even more intriguing and a great candidate for me to spend some time doing archival research on.  When (ok “if”) I get around to that I’ll update the post with all my findings (I’m very optimistic).

Some History:

  • The hotel was built in 1927
  • Rumored to have been remodeled in 1947
  • Hotel was further modernized in 1950 (see article below)
  • Originally called the Plaza Club Hotel
  • The hotel was closed in 1985

What’s happening now?
Nada. Nothing.  Camden is trying.  The Aquarium and Riversharks stadium along the river are proof that they are and that it can work.  Currently, Rutgers is building an Early Learning Research Academy directly across the street from the Hotel Plaza slated to open in 2011.  I can only see that as a sign of hope.

Hotel Plaza

Hotel Plaza from across Cooper Street. 11.2010 ©sbethy

Plaza Club Hotel Postcard

Plaza Club Hotel Postcard. Courtesy of Paul W. Schopp Collection

 

Hotel Plaza Postcard

Hotel Plaza Postcard

Hotel Plaza sign

Hotel Plaza Sign. 11.2010 ©sbethy

Hotel Plaza Sign

Hotel Plaza Neon Sign. 11.2010 ©sbethy

 

Exterior Detail. 11.2010 ©sbethy

 

 

Hotel Plaza Medallions

Hotel Plaza Exterior Medallion Detail. 11.2010 ©sbethy

Cooper Street

Hotel Plaza on Cooper Street. 11.2010 ©sbethy

 

Rutgers sign

Rutgers development across Cooper Street from the Hotel Plaza. 11.2010 ©sbethy

 

Camden Courier Post Article

Camden Courier-Post Article from June 2, 1950

Menu

Plaza Motor Hotel Breakfast Menu circa 1964


Information gathered from:
The New York Times
Cached version of this random website: http://www.dvrbs.com/camden/CamdenNJ-PlazaHotel.htm

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About sbethy

I have three college degrees including a Masters in Historic Preservation. Since many people aren't hiring preservationists right now I thought this would be a great outlet to document and hopefully publicize amazing buildings that I believe need attention. Originally from NY and currently living in NJ just over the bridge(s) from Philadlephia most of the places I'll feature will be in these areas. If anyone reading this has any buildings they are curious about or love and want to share, let me know and I'll do a little research, take some photos and you'll see the building highlighted. You'll see that I don't tend to focus on pretty buildings that have been perfectly restored. I tend to be drawn to ones that are more in a state of disrepair or are clearly underutilized. There is something about that aesthetic that I am drawn to and makes me wonder about its history- what was it's function, who worked/lived there, who built it, what happened to it, can it be saved? Also, whenever possible I am going to use all my own photography since I love taking photos as well.
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13 Responses to The Hotel Plaza

  1. Mark says:

    Nice job!! I enjoy reading your posts, keep them coming…..

  2. Chris says:

    Nice work. Thanks for posting on this beautiful building. I would love to know a bit more about it’s architectural aspects, i.e who designed it, and in what style?

  3. JJ says:

    I go to school at Rutgers and I think it would be great if they bought it and made it into dorms or something that the school could use. There’s not much left of the old historic camden. I hope they don’t tear it down. Would love to see what it looks like on the inside.

  4. Christopher MILLS says:

    I found an postcard of this building in an old book at a sale, no idea why it could be there as the book was in FRANCE.. I live in central France with so many old crumbly buildings but as with yours, no one seems to care. A worldwide building conservation fund is what is needed. these building can be restored and become useful again the problem is money.
    good luck,

  5. Jeff Stroud says:

    I was just in Camden this afternoon and took some photos of the Plaza Hotel on way home while in Camden to photography the cirque du soleil tents. The building is in worst shape now than photos you took 3 years ago. It is fenced in now, but many windows a broken, looks like there may have been a fire… I will post photos in the next day or so. sad !

  6. Michael Burke says:

    I live here in Camden, in the Victor building. Have been fascinated by the Plaza Hotel for a while. They have been saying for the past year that they would be demolishing it. Unfortunately, they started to, yesterday. It was about 3/4th down when I saw it. I’d post a picture, but it doesn’t look like I can.

    Mike

  7. Pingback: UPDATE: The Hotel Plaza in Camden is coming down | history's aesthetic

  8. The church behind The Plaza Club Hotel in the postcard had been owned by Victor since 1918. It had been the Trinity Baptist Church and became a recording studio (actually two studios once electrical recording had been installed in about August 1925: one was in the church; the other was at an upper floor level in the part immediately behind the hotel). Recordings there were not affected by the factory noise at the Victor building. Recording ceased in the early 1930s because of the building and running of the underground transit system.

    I’ve always wondered about the musicians who stayed at the Plaza whilst in Camden for recording sessions in Victor’s ‘Church Studios’.

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