Friday, May 4, 2012

Ladies' Lounge, Hotel Warwick

Hotel Warwick
Ladies' Lounge, Hotel Warwick

Location: 24th Street and West Avenue, Newport News, Virginia, USA

Opened: April 11, 1883

Closed: Destroyed by fire, November 14, 1961

Given that the Hotel Warwick was built 13 years before the City of Newport News was incorporated, this was clearly designed as a holiday residential hotel--especially as one of its selling points was that it overlooked "the Greatest Harbor on the Atlantic Coast." Obviously, this hotel did not cater to the hoi polloi or the random travelling salesman. Rather, it was to serve as "an agreeable headquarters for business men and their families" along with other "guests from the leisurely classes." As further explained here,

The Hotel Warwick was the center of all major social events for several decades with its popularity peaking in the 1920s. In close proximity to the hotel was a pleasure pier on the James River, a casino, a bowling alley, and a park. Dances, baseball games, and all manner of resort activities made the hotel a popular destination for travelers to the area as well as local residents.

While perhaps not as stuffy as many big-city hotels, the Hotel Warwick was nonetheless a high-end establishment that still observed the formal gender divisions typical of other hotels of this type.

When we peek into the ladies' lounge, we see something that was obviously laid out with great care and elegance, yet it's as breezy and comfortable as your grandmother's veranda--assuming your grandmother was an upper-crust Victorian.

Ladies' Lounge, Hotel Warwick

If anything, it's the gentlemen's lounge that comes across as stodgy and suffocating, with all its "leather furnishings" and rather pretentious coat-of-arms over the fireplace.

This is one of those cases where I can happily imagine myself in the womyn's space, but not the men's. I can see myself contentedly flipping through a book in one of those wicker chairs, sipping a cool glass of sweet tea, or giggling with my lady friends before departing, arm-in-arm, for our early evening promenade down the pier. Oh, to be of the manner born.... However, the unpleasant reality for most of us is that our great-grandmothers were far more likely to be cooks or maids--rather than pampered guests--in such a place as this.
Gentlemen's Lounge, Hotel Warwick


  1. Not sure that I like the layout of the chairs in the Ladies Lounge - why are they all facing away from each other, not very conversational.

  2. Good point. Now that you mention it, this is seen a lot in these Victorian rooms.

  3. I love the gentlemen's lounge photo ... I posted it on Pinterest ... check it out here


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