Hotel Closing • But terra cotta Harford landmark deserves a reprieve
Hartford Courant Editorial
November 06, 2008
The planned closing of the Goodwin Hotel, Hartford's luxury lodging in the heart of downtown, comes as a shock. The 124-room hotel at Asylum and Haynes streets, purchased by Northland Investment Corp. in 2005, was in the middle of a major renovation by the business district's largest property owner. Its loss would be a glaring detour in the capital city's route to renaissance.
But falling occupancy and a bleak economic forecast have doomed the enterprise unless a deal can be worked out with the union representing employees to operate the place and thus save 70 jobs. We hope it can. Northland, generously, has said it would facilitate that scenario by leasing the landmark hotel for $1 year. The office tower at its center will remain in operation.
The Goodwin is more than a business. It is a piece of Hartford's history. It has survived hard times before, most poignantly in 1988 when it became the victim of what a former Courant architecture critic called an act of "facadism." The 1881 structure was completely gutted, with only its terra cotta facade preserved.
Before that, it was a once-grand apartment building with fireplaces and crooked halls that housed artists, architects, musicians and librarians. Then known as The Goodwin Building, it was reputed to be the oldest apartment building in America — older than New York's famous Dakota. J.P. Morgan once kept a residence in the original structure.
In its modern incarnation, the Goodwin Hotel has sheltered entertainment royalty from Luciano Pavarotti to Mick Jagger to Andrea Bocelli. U2 jammed in the lobby after a concert at the Civic Center, now the XL Center, across the street. Paul McCartney, Steven van Zandt, Linda Evans and Joan Collins have all spent time there.
The Goodwin contributes to downtown Hartford's distinctive character. We hope its fortunes improve.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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