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Hotel Margaret

By Dan Brenner

Posted on May 1, 2019

Hotel Margaret, ca. 1930, V1984.1.458; Brooklyn Slide Collection, V1984.001; Brooklyn Historical Society.

For years the majestic Hotel Margaret stood on the corner of Columbia Heights and Orange Street in the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, overlooking the New York harbor with a grand view of Manhattan. The ten-story hotel once laid claim to being the tallest building in Brooklyn, the sun parlor on the top floor offering a panoramic view of the city in all directions. The building was designed using polychrome shades of stone which provided even more allure to guests of the hotel and passersby.

Frank Freeman, a renowned Brooklyn architect, designed and built the hotel in 1889 for his client John Arbuckle, of the famous Arbuckle Brothers Coffee Company. The hotel was actually named after John’s sister Margaret. During this time, the Arbuckle Brothers were running the largest coffee company in America, which was owned and operated out of the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO. Their initial success was due to their now famous Ariosa coffee blend. For a more thorough history of the Arbuckle family and the coffee business of Brooklyn, please check out the Brownstoner’s in-depth three part series here.

Some notable guests who stayed at the Hotel Margaret over the years included Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset, American artist Joseph Pennell, and Betty Smith, author of the beloved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. H.G. Wells was also a frequent visitor of the hotel when he was in town.

In 1980, during renovations intended to convert the hotel into condominiums, the building caught fire and was destroyed. In 1987 the land was purchased by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and a new condominium building was built in its place.

This image comes from the Brooklyn slide collection. For more information please see our finding aid here.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections; visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. [email protected].

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