Hotel Margaret

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Hotel Margaret
Hotel Margaret.jpg
The hotel as it appeared in the 1890s
General information
Type Hotel
Architectural style Richardsonian Romanesque
Location Cnr. Columbia Heights and Orange St., Brooklyn
Address 97 Columbia Heights
Completed 1889
Renovated 1980
Destroyed By fire, 1980
Client John Arbuckle
Height 10 stories
Design and construction
Architect Frank Freeman

The Hotel Margaret was a notable building in Brooklyn, New York. Designed by Frank Freeman and completed in 1889, the hotel was the locality's first skyscraper and for many years remained its tallest building. It was destroyed by fire during renovations. It seems that a person who was using taping compound left a heater on and forgot to turn it off which started the fire that destroyed the hotel in 1980.


The hotel was built for John Arbuckle, a Brooklyn coffee and sugar importer, and named after his sister Margaret. Prominent Brooklyn-based architect Frank Freeman was commissioned to design the building, which was completed in 1889.[1]

For many years, the hotel remained the tallest building in the locality,[2] becoming a "familiar and appreciated" sight to the locals. It was home to several prominent artists, including etcher Joseph Pennell, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Sigrid Undset, and Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.[3]

The building was remodelled in 1958, and at this time given a coat of "neutral-toned" paint which caused it to lose some of its polychromatic appeal.[4] In 1980, work began on converting the hotel into condominiums,[2] but the building caught fire during the renovation and burned down.[3]


Completed in architect Frank Freeman's signature Richardsonian Romanesque style, the building has been described as "a rangy, Victorian apartment house in brick, terra cotta and pressed metal with vivid and witty ornament"[5] and as "the outstanding building of the Post Civil War period" in the locality.[4] A contemporary source described the building as:

... a huge and imposing apartment house, designed by Frank Freeman in a free adaptation of Romanesque. From its upper story there is a superb river view, from the street or the East River Bridge an impressive sky line. It is quaintly balconied and recessed, and the deep brown red of its brick harmonizes admirably with its iron work.[6]

The building was topped by large, pyramidal-roofed rectangular towers, which offered excellent views of the cityscape.[1] Primary building materials utilized in its appearance were stone, brick, terra cotta and copper.[4]


  1. ^ a b Younger, p. 60.
  2. ^ a b Morrone and Iska, p. 97.
  3. ^ a b Wolfe, p. 418.
  4. ^ a b c Lancaster and Gillon, p. 68.
  5. ^ "Frank Freeman, Architect; After a Century, a Fond Remembrance", The New York Times, 1995-02-26.
  6. ^ Livingstone, p. 81.


  • Lancaster, Clay; Gillon, Edmund V. Jr. (1980): Old Brooklyn Heights: New York's First Suburb, 5th Edition, Dover Publications, ISBN 978-0-486-23872-2.
  • Livingstone, Colin Hamilton (1893): The Citizen Guide To Brooklyn And Long Island, Jersey City Printing Co.
  • Morrone, Francis; Iska, James (2001): An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn, Gibbs Smith, ISBN 978-1-58685-047-0.
  • Wolfe, Gerard (2003): New York: 15 Walking Tours, An Architectural Guide to the Metropolis, 3rd Edition, McGraw Hill Professional, ISBN 978-0-07-141185-1.
  • Younger, William Lee (1978): Old Brooklyn in Early Photographs, 1865-1929, Dover Publications, 1st Edition, ISBN 978-0-486-23587-5.

Coordinates: 40°41′59″N 73°59′43.5″W / 40.69972°N 73.995417°W / 40.69972; -73.995417