Volume 18 • Issue 43 | March 10 - 16, 2006

Sign from the old Fulton Ferry Hotel, which the South Street Seaport will open for a tour on Wednesday.

Seaport Museum to open historic hotel for a tour

By Chad Smith

Call it a recall to life. After prominence, degradation, redemption then finally neglect, the Fulton Ferry Hotel will be restored to share its full history. And the South Street Seaport Museum has invited the public to take a sneak peak at the process next week.

The hotel is housed within Schermerhorn Row, which was built in 1811 and was one of the first commercial areas of the nascent South St. Seaport. Initially a fine hotel, the Fulton Ferry accommodated captains and other distinguished seaman. However, as the neighborhood declined, with port activity moving from the East River to the Hudson, the hotel became more of a “ramshackle boardinghouse operation,” said Debra Wexler, deputy executive director at the museum. The Fulton Ferry may have even at one time functioned as a brothel, she said.

In the 1950s, Joseph Mitchell, writer for the NewYorker magazine, took an interest in the hotel, which had been abandoned by then, and romanticized it in his article, “Up in the old Hotel.” The article highlighted some of the lesser-known stories from the early Seaport era, and gave a voice to those who inhabited the area and made it unique.

In more recent years, the museum has been trying to raise funds to restore projects like this, but the hotel languished in the meantime.

Finally, in 2006, the museum raised all the money needed, and Wexler says that the chance now to experience the Fulton Ferry Hotel will be like taking a “fascinating step back in time.”

The Fulton Ferry Hotel will eventually be incorporated into a South St. Seaport exhibit called “World Port New York,” which will open in 2007.

The museum is leading a behind the scenes tour of the hotel’s restoration. The tour is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15, at 6 p.m. The hotel is located at 12 Fulton St. Admission: $10 for adults, $8 for museum members. For information call the museum at (212) 748-8610. 


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