|This famous hotel complex of Atlantic City yesteryear was named after England’s Marlborough House and Blenheim Castle. Josiah White III, after successfully managing the Luray Hotel for almost 20 years, decided to build a new hotel on a site at Ohio Avenue he had purchased from the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Here White built the Queen Anne style wooden Marlborough in 1902. In 1905, when the neighboring Children’s Seashore House moved to a new location further downbeach, the Atlantic City Press announced the construction of the Blenheim. The new hotel would be completely fireproof, using “brick, treated with plaster and Moravian tile, steel, and hollow tile reinforced with concrete.” The Reinforced Concrete was a revolutionary construction for its time, developed by inventor Thomas Edison. Edison reportedly oversaw the building process, claiming it was “the construction of the future.” In 1906, the new Spanish-Moorish style Blenheim Hotel was completed. The White family operated the Marlborough-Blenheim for its entire tenure, witnessing its evolution from a posh vacation spot for celebrities and well-to-do guests, through its time as a military facility during World War II, up to its reputation during Atlantic City’s less successful days as the home of “the newly wed and the nearly dead.” In 1977, Bally’s closed the complex after purchasing it as a site for a new hotel and casino resort. The outdated design of both hotels – including the fact that there weren’t bathrooms in every guest room in the Marlborough – accompanied by the complex’s extensive deterioration and exorbitant repair cost, led Bally’s to demolish the entire structure. The decision was met with outcry from many longtime guests of the Marlborough-Blenheim, including one woman who traveled 600 miles to protest the razing of the hotel she had stayed in since its opening. Despite getting the Blenheim rotunda listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the protests could not overcome the fact that the rotunda was structurally unsound. It was the last piece of the Marlborough-Blenheim to be demolished, being imploded on January 4, 1979. It recent years, the Blenheim has gained newfound recognition as the basis for the design of the fictional Ritz-Carlton Hotel in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.|
For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Local History Subject Files – Hotels
| A 1925 postcard showing the Marlborough (red building in foreground) and Blenheim Hotels.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H049.647.94Mar229c.1.