Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

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Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel
Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey.png
The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, 1906
General information
LocationAtlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
Address1900 Pacific Avenue
Coordinates39°21′25″N 74°25′39.88″W / 39.35694°N 74.4277444°W / 39.35694; -74.4277444
Construction started1902
OwnerJosiah White III
Design and construction
Architect(s)Will Price
postcard, Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel
The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, 1906
Atlantic City travel poster, Pennsylvania Railroad
The hotel in 1936 is on upper right. Edward Mason Eggleston, illustrator.

The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a historic resort hotel property in Atlantic City, New Jersey, built in 1902–1906, and demolished in October 1978.[1][2]


In 1900, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land between Ohio Avenue and Park Place on the Boardwalk, and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House.[3] The hotel was financially successful and, in 1905, he chose to expand. White hired Philadelphia architect Will Price of Price and McLanahan to design a new, separate tower to be called the Blenheim. "Blenheim" refers to Blenheim Palace in England, the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, a grandson of the 7th Duke of Marlborough.

Recent hotel fires in and around Atlantic City, Price's recent experience of designing the all-concrete Jacob Reed store in Philadelphia, and a steel strike in the fall of 1905 influenced Price's choice of reinforced concrete for the tower. It opened in 1906.[4][5]

It was not the first reinforced concrete hotel in the world, as French concrete pioneer François Hennebique had designed the Imperial Palace Hotel in Nice five years previously. But it was the largest reinforced concrete building in the world.[6] The hotel's Spanish and Moorish themes, capped off with its signature dome and chimneys, represented a step forward from other hotels that had a classically designed influence.

In 1916, Winston Churchill was a guest of the hotel.

On March 14, 1977, Reese Palley and local attorney and businessman Martin Blatt purchased the Marlborough-Blenheim from the White family.[7] They intended to spend $35 million on renovations, preserving the Blenheim wing, while razing the Marlborough to make way for a modern casino hotel. In June 1977, Bally Manufacturing, the world's largest producer of slot machines, leased the Marlborough-Blenheim from Palley and Blatt for 40 years, with an option for a further 100 years.[8] On August 17, 1977, Bally announced that it had purchased the neighboring Dennis Hotel for $4 million from the First National Bank of South Jersey.[9] On October 25, 1977, Josiah White IV, grandson of the Marlborough-Blenheim's founder, presided over the closure of the hotel, locking its front door.[10]

After Bally took control of the two properties, it announced plans to raze all three hotel buildings - the Marlborough, the Blenheim, and the Dennis, despite protests, to make way for the new "Bally's Park Place Casino and Hotel", an $83 million casino/hotel designed by California-based Maxwell Starkman Associates. The new resort was to have a 39-story, octagonal hotel tower and a huge three-level podium, containing a 75,000-square-foot (7,000 m2) casino, along with other resort and convention facilities.[11] However, in an effort to offset costs and open the casino as soon as possible, the Dennis Hotel was retained to serve as the temporary hotel for Bally's until a new tower could be built.

Bally demolished the wood-framed Marlborough with the conventional wrecking ball. For the Blenheim the company hired Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) and Winzinger Incorporated of Hainesport New Jersey, which had taken down the Traymore Hotel, to implode the structure. A preservation group which had sought historic status for the building won a stay of execution for the Blenheim's rotunda portion on the Boardwalk. It was separated from the rest of the hotel, which was imploded in the fall of 1978. Several months later its historic status was denied, the stay was lifted, and CDI finished the demolition January 4, 1979.[12][13] It is not known if they sold the name Marlborough-Blenheim as well.

Bally's Park Place now stands at this location.

In culture[edit]

The hotel features prominently in the 1972 Bob Rafelson film The King of Marvin Gardens, starring Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern and Ellen Burstyn.

In the Garry Marshall film Beaches, a young Hillary Whitney stays with her family at the hotel, where she treats a young C. C. Bloom to chocolate sodas in the Garden Court. The scene was filmed at the Ambassador Hotel (Los Angeles), which itself was torn down in 2005.

In the HBO television show Boardwalk Empire, the fictionalized Nucky Thompson lives on the 8th floor of a Ritz-Carlton whose architecture is based on the Marlborough-Blenheim's, rather than that of the actual Ritz-Carlton in Atlantic City that the real Nucky Johnson had lived in. The Blenheim hotel is mentioned throughout the series.

A clip of the demolition of the main dome of the hotel is featured in the video for Bruce Springsteen's song "Atlantic City."

See also[edit]

Winzinger Inc. of Hainesport, New Jersey was the demolition contractor of the hotels along with CDI who controlled and planned the explosives. Heidi Winzinger's song "Queen of Atlantic City" is a folk rock song dedicated to the Blenheim Hotel's memory.


  1. ^ "Beach Skyscraper Open; Marlborough-Belnheim Open--Boardwalk Crowded" (PDF), The New York Times, March 14, 1906, retrieved 2011-06-23
  2. ^ "Atlantic City Early Hotels". Monopoly Retrieved 2011-07-05.
  3. ^ Thomas, George E. "MARLBOROUGH HOTEL: HABS NO. NJ-863" (PDF). HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington , D.C 20013. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  4. ^ "Beach Skyscraper Open; Marlborough-Belnheim Open--Boardwalk Crowded", The New York Times, March 14, 1906, retrieved 2011-06-23 {{citation}}: Check |url= value (help)[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Thomas, George E. "Blenheim Hotel: HABS NO. NJ-864" (PDF). HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington , D.C 20013. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  6. ^ Concrete: the vision of a new architecture By Peter Collins
  7. ^ Janson, Donald (1977-03-15). "Marlborough‐Blenheim Acquired By Reese Palley to Set up a Casino". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  8. ^ Janson, Donald (1977-08-19). "President of Bally Company Says He Expects It to Get Casino License". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  9. ^ Janson, Donald (1977-08-17). "Pinball and Slot‐Machine Concern Plans to Purchase Another Hotel for Casino on Atlantic City Boardwalk". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  10. ^ "Atlantic City Hotel Closing in 3 Weeks". The New York Times. 1977-10-06. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  11. ^ "Atlantic City: Growth vs. Grandeur". The New York Times. 1978-03-19. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  12. ^ Spatz, David (October 18, 2009). "Kaboom!". Atlantic City Weekly. Archived from the original on October 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
  13. ^ "HABS NJ,1-ATCI,3- (sheet 1 of 14) - Blenheim Hotel, Ohio Avenue & Boardwalk, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, NJ". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2015-01-01.

Coordinates: 39°21′20″N 74°25′54″W / 39.3556°N 74.4317°W / 39.3556; -74.4317