Lancaster Arts Hotel

View our
special offers

Discover the Lancaster Arts Hotel with its charming industrial heritage dating to Lancaster's days as a tobacco processing center.

timeline icon

Lancaster Arts Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2008, dates back to 1881.

VIEW TIMELINE

Listed as a contributing structure within the Harrisburg Avenue Tobacco Historic District, the Lancaster Arts Hotel is replete with history. But this amazing historic destination has not always been a luxurious retreat. On the contrary, it once served as a tobacco warehouse back during the late 1800s. At the height of the Gilded Age, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was a vibrant manufacturing town filled with all kinds of unique industries. Many factories dotted its skyline, which produced everything from textiles to cork plugs. (Another member of Historic Hotels of America, the Cork Factory Hotel, resides within an erstwhile cork-manufacturing plant just a few blocks away.) With an abundant supply of locally grown tobacco, Lancaster quickly emerged as a regional center for the production of cigarettes, cigars, and other related products. Dozens of tobacco warehouses subsequently proliferated throughout the city, giving rise to many neighborhoods that were filled exclusively with just those buildings. (A number of the districts still exist today, preserved as historic sites that are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.) Most local tobacco industrialists concentrated their warehouses near railroads, too, making it easier to move the goods across the nation.

In 1881, a New York-based entrepreneur named Arnold Falk became one of the many people to partake in the local tobacco economy. That September, Falk spent $1,400 to purchase a plot of land from Thomas E. Franklin as a means of creating his own warehouse. Falk subsequently developed the structure along Harrisburg Avenue over the next three months, raising a three-and-a-half-story building set upon a rectangular stone foundation. Interestingly, Falk subdivided the structure into two separate sections via a thick brick interior wall. Both parts of the building would subsequently operate in isolation for a while, with Falk selling the northern portion to Albert S. Rosenbaum for his “Rosenbaum Tobacco Warehouse.” Meanwhile, Falk placed his own business, “G. Falk and Bro.,” in the other half. But sometime later, Falk and Rosenbaum combined their two businesses under one deed, which transformed their shared home into the “Falk and Rosenbaum Tobacco Warehouse.” Nevertheless, the building was used for tobacco storage by at least three other companies right up until the end of World War II. The erstwhile warehouse then hosted a variety of other companies for decades thereafter, including a wholesale paper and twine distributor—presumably “United Paper and Twine”—as well as an electronics business.

In 2004, developers acquired the historic building, which by that point was one of just four historic warehouses left in the area. Over the next two years, the former tobacco warehouse was gradually converted into a luxury boutique hotel named the “Lancaster Arts Hotel.” The hotel was designed to take advantage of the historic features of the original building, leaving many of the original brick walls and some of the original wood floors intact. Art work, primarily from local artists, was displayed throughout the hotel. Most of the furniture was made by Pennsylvania artisans, including traditional pieces by New Holland furniture-maker John Martin. The lobby and suites in particular featured “tobacco chairs,” crafted by Martin himself. Today, the five-story, 35,000 square-foot edifice houses all of outstanding accommodations. (Ten rooms were added in a second, smaller building that has been around for at least half a century.) A member of Historic Hotels of America since 2008, this fantastic historic hotel continues to offer an amazing cultural heritage experience right in the heart of Lancaster.

  • About the Location +

    The city of Lancaster dates back to the 1730s, when the famous Penn family deeded the area to James Hamilton. In 1730, Hamilton began parceling out land upon a rudimentary street grid based around a rustic town square. Within just a matter of years, though, the nascent community had grown to include a courthouse, jail, and even a few dozen townhouses. A steady stream of families began moving into the town from further east, allured by the outlying farmland that proliferated throughout Lancaster County. Furthermore, the local thoroughfare of King Street was part of the greater Old Pennsylvania Turnpike, which attracted all kinds of merchants from northern Pennsylvania and Maryland. As such, the settlement had expanded to the point where it achieved borough status in just a decade. Businesses were soon ubiquitous across the locale, especially numerous markets that serviced the many farmers who lived just beyond its borders. The residents soon referred to it as “Lancaster” after the English city of the same name, and used the former’s sigil—a red rose—as the symbol for the new town. (The red rose itself originated to the royal House of Lancaster, which once ruled as the kings of England during the 15th century.) Commerce in Lancaster subsequently remained strong right up until the outbreak of the American Revolution, with the community emerging as one of the largest inland town’s within the Thirteen Colonies. But hard times befell Lancaster once the war had ended, as Pennsylvania’s continued expansion westward saw less people traveling through the region. (It nonetheless continued to attract settlers, including the family of future U.S. President James Buchanan.)

    Lancaster remained a quiet rural town for some time, even after the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike debuted in 1795. Nevertheless, the town retained some of its previous cultural importance, serving as the state capital from 1799 right up until the War of 1812. But the arrival of the railroads in the 1830s changed everything, however. The railroads diminished the amount of time it took to move goods, thus making it cheaper, too. As such, local entrepreneurs soon took to creating their own industrial operations as soon as the first railroads started passing through in 1834. Industry quickly spread across Lancaster, including factories that produced goods like clothing and ironwork. But the industrial landscape became far more intricate over time, as industrialists started producing everything from confectionary to cigars. There was even a plant that specifically made umbrellas for mass consumption. Among the first industrial facilities to debut were sprawling textiles plants of the historic Conestoga Steam Cotton Works. (Interestingly, the Conestoga Steam Cotton Works would provide more than 80 percent of the textiles used by the Union Army during the American Civil War.) By the late 1880s, it was so massive that it employed more workers than any other factory in Lancaster. Cork factories also hired countless people throughout the community, too, with the Conestoga Cork Works and the Lancaster Cork Works being among the greatest in town. Opened in 1860 and 1875, respectively, the two plants were incredibly prosperous by the height of the Gilded Age. In fact, the renowned Thomas A. Armstrong even acquired the two facilities in order to create the massive Armstrong Cork Company in 1895.

    Lancaster’s population swelled considerably, rising from around 7,700 in 1830 to more than 40,000 in 1900. Its size also kept expanding, leading to its eventual rechartering as a city. Industry remained the bedrock of the community, although retail and banking emerged in importance, too. But in the years that followed World War II, Lancaster’s economic fortunes began to decline. Many factories choose to move their operations to other places in the United States, while federally funded mortgages encouraged locals to relocate to quieter communities neighboring Lancaster. Storefronts that had supplied Lancaster for generations finally closed down, with the last grand department store shuttering its doors for good in the early 1990s. Fortunately, Lancaster underwent a cultural renaissance at the dawn of the 21st century, reemerging as a vibrant tourist destination. The city has many historic districts listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places that feature countless historical attractions. Those surviving structures are incredibly beautiful, as well, for they display all sorts of historic architectural styles like Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, and Second Empire. The city is even home to a few specific renowned landmarks, such as Fulton Theatre, the Lancaster Museum of Art, the Lancaster Science Factory, and the home of noted abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. Even Wheatfield, the estate of U.S. President James Buchanan, resides within Lancaster. Many other famous cultural heritage landmarks reside just outside of Lancaster, as well, such as the Dutch Wonderland, the Strasburg Railroad, and The Amish Village. As such, cultural heritage travelers will absolutely adore visiting the historic streets of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


  • About the Architecture +

    The Lancaster Arts Hotel possesses a unique architectural style that can best be described as “eclectic.” Dating to the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, historians today consider “eclecticism” to be part of a much larger movement to fuse together a variety of historical designs. Earlier in the 1800s, architects—particularly those in Europe—decided to rely upon their own loose interpretations of historical architecture whenever they attempted to replicate it. Such a practice appeared within such styles as Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Second Empire architecture. But at the height of the Gilded Age, those architects decided to use historic architecture more literally when developing a building. A few architects went a step further by combining certain historical styles together to achieve something uniquely beautiful. And in some cases, those individuals felt inspired to add a new historical form onto a building that they were renovating—just like the Lancaster Arts Hotel. Ultimately, the architects felt that joining such architectural forms together would give them a new avenue of expression that they otherwise did not have at the time. They also believed that they had stayed true to the earlier forms, having perfectly replicated whatever it was they wanted to mimic.

    In Europe, this approach first appeared as a rehash of Gothic Revival-style known as “Collegiate Gothic.” The European architects then used such a mentality to influence the unfolding philosophies of both the Beaux-Arts school of design, as well as the emerging Renaissance Revival-style. Many architects in America followed suit, the most notable of which being Richard Morris Hunt and Charles Follen McKim. The American architects who embraced “eclecticism” were at first interested in the country’s colonial architecture. Much of the desire to return to the time period was born from the revived interest in American culture brought on by the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Pride in preserving the nation’s heritage inspired the architects to perfect the design principles of their colonial forefathers in new and intriguing ways. This interest gradually splintered into other revival styles, though, like Spanish Colonial and Tudor Revival. Some Americans even infused the approach with the popular Beaux-Arts aesthetics of France, such as Hunt and McKim. Yet, the birth of Modernism in the 1920s and 1930s eventually ended the worldwide love affair with “eclecticism,” for architects throughout the West became more enchanted with the ideas of modernity, technology, and progress.


Sign up for our Newsletter

Partners

  • HHW Logo
  • NTHP Logo
  • AA Logo
  • WHHA Logo
  • STE Logo