The Castleton Hotel
Although it is now an apartment building, The Majestic / Castleton is a reminder of the number of travelers who visited New Castle in the 1920s.
In 1925 a group of influential businessmen began to discuss the possibility of adding an upscale hotel in downtown New Castle. A Castleton Hotel Corporation was founded in February 1926 and began a public drive to raise the necessary funds. The almost 800 community-based stockholders who bought in owned the hotel, while the American Hotel Corporation of New York was later contracted to run its daily operations.
Local architects W. G. Eckles and A. L. Thayer designed the six-story structure, with the assistance of the Philadelphia firm of Thomas, Martin, and Kirkpatrick. The first floor would be home to a large dining room/ballroom capable of seating 200 people, while the five upper floors each housed thirty-two guest rooms totaling 160 in all. The basement contained the heating plant, storage space, a laundry facility, and a dining room for the hotel staff. The roof contained a few penthouse suites and the ground floor would also be home to various commercial and retail businesses fronting Mercer Street.
In June 1926 the razing of the buildings at the location commenced, with the old Lawrence Club (moving into a new building) being the last structure to be demolished by early September. Construction started soon after and with the interior furnishings the project cost a total of about $700,000. The bricks for the structure were manufactured by the New Castle Clay & Brick Company, a firm who would also supply the brick for the new Jameson Memorial Hospital (opened in 1929).
The luxurious establishment opened with a grand banquet on Saturday, October 22, 1927, with a week-long celebration attended by many dignitaries and local residents. John L. Slack, a Cornell University graduate and who polished his hotel experience in the resorts of Florida, served as the first general manager.The Roaring Twenties was a time of great prosperity and the city of New Castle flexed its muscle with the building of such grand structures as the Castleton, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, Jameson Hospital, and the St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
The New Castle News of October 22, 1927, reported, “It is a splendid hotel, one that should receive the personal inspection of every citizen interested. The building is constructed of concrete and steel, with a facing of Castle Tex brick, a beautiful brick which was designed by the New Castle Mining Clay Products company for The Castleton. The facing of the first floor is of Indiana limestone.
The Castleton was the finest hotel in New Castle and was home to numerous banquets, conventions, dinners, dances, and parties of all kinds. It was well received and was an immediate financial success. Among its more famous guests over the years were aviatrix Amelia Earhart Putnam, explorer Adm. Richard E, Byrd, and baseball legend Lou Gehrig.
In early 1991 building renovations began to convert the facility into a 73-unit apartment complex for seniors.During the renovation process, 64 hotel rooms were changed to 39 one bedroom apartments. The building already had four two-bedroom apartments. All of the units, as well as the building’s common areas and exterior, received a face lift. In addition to carpet and paint, the units were equipped with a fire alert system, new bathroom fixtures with guide rails, all kitchen appliances and drapery hardware. The building received new windows, as well as new electrical and heating systems. The exterior was sandblasted clean. The sidewalks and the parking lot across the street were refurbished.
The once grand Castleton still serves as an apartment complex today. New owners, CPR Property Group of New York City, purchased the building in 2016 and have changed the name of the building to “The Majestic.” They have renovated apartments, upgraded the elevator, and improved the lobby.