ST. CLAIR HOTEL
Hover over or click on the images for additional information. Research provided by Mike Poniatowicz.
Growing up in Conshohocken in the sixties and early seventies it was obvious even to a pre-teen/teen that Conshohocken’s heavy industries were in decline. However, there was one business that was booming…bars. On Fayette Street and on both the east and west sides of Conshohocken many neighborhood bars continued to thrive even as heavy industry declined. But did you know that at least some of these bars were decedents of the multitude of hotels which once thrived throughout the borough?
In the late 19th century and early 20th century Conshohocken was an industrial and transportation hub which required a fair number of hotels. According to license records in 1883 there were 18 hotels some with attached bars and restaurants. At that time most hotels were relatively small affairs with perhaps only few rooms above the restaurant and bar facilities. You can find some interesting stories in the local papers concerning the “creativity” of these hotels during the 1920s at the height of the Prohibition era.
Many of these hotels were located in the “lower” part of Conshohocken roughly between Hector Street and the Schuylkill River (on a north to south axis) and Ash and Forest Streets (on an east to west axis). Some of these hotels continued to exist and morphed into neighborhood bars until the early seventies. At that time the first redevelopment of Conshohocken’s industrial and transportation infrastructure began in earnest which meant demolition of many of the buildings in lower Conshohocken. This includes the demolition of the subject of this document. The Saint Clair Hotel.
The St. Clair Hotel stood at the corner of Harry and East Elm Street. We don’t know the exact year that the St Clair Hotel was built but we do know from an 1898 map of Conshohocken that the St. Clair Hotel was open for business in 1898.
We know from the shown advertisement printed in the Conshohocken Recorder on August 18, 1908 that the St. Clair Hotel was still open for business in 1908 under the management of Mayall May.
While researching the St. Clair I also discovered the names and locations of many of the other hotels that once dotted Conshohocken. We did find that one (and possibly two) of these old hotels are currently functioning as a least a restaurant and bar:
East End Hotel – This hotel was located at the intersection of East Hector and Jones Street. This building is currently occupied by the business “Conshy Corner” and still rents a few rooms above the restaurant. It still maintains a hotel liquor license which may be the same license acquired during its life as the East Side Hotel.
Seventh Avenue Hotel – From an 1898 map this hotel was located at the intersection of West Seventh Avenue and Maple Streets. The building currently at this location, which may or may not from 1898, is occupied by the business “Old Time Saloon." This business is a restaurant/neighborhood bar with a restaurant, not hotel, liquor license. It is unclear whether the structure at this location was the original building for the Seventh Avenue Hotel.
Despite all of the informational resources at the Conshohocken Historical Society there is still some data which we would like to add to our archives and for that data we come to you.
For the St. Clair Hotel, we'd love for you to share any memories from the Hotel or the identities of people pictured in the photos contained in the above article.