Fraternity Clubs Building on Madison Avenue



Fraternity Clubs Building


The 16-story Fraternity Clubs Building, now Jolly Madison Towers Hotel, is located at 22 East Thirty-eighth Street, on the southeast corner of Madison Avenue, in the Murray Hill section. It was constructed by the Allerton Group as a club residence for college fraternity men, later also for women and for permanent or transient guests. The building was completed in early 1924, containing all the features that provided every luxury of a private club.

According to the New York Times (July 23, 1922), this Allerton club residence was under construction in July 1922 by the Allerton Thirty-eighth Street Company and it was financed by the S.W. Straus Company, one of the most important investment houses in the United States.

It was erected on the site of the old Zion Protestant Episcopal Church, a Gothic temple built in 1854, purchased by the South Reformed Dutch Church in 1890. The congregation moved to Park Avenue in 1910.

It was designed by Murgatroyd & Ogden (the same firm designed the Barbizon Hotel for Women), in a Renaissance Revival style, for exclusive bachelor apartment accommodations, with 600 rooms and 16 stories in height. The land was 98 feet on Madison Avenue and 125 feet on 38th Street. The building was finished in tapestry brick with stone trimmings. The facilities included gymnasium, squash courts, handball courts, Turkish baths, locker rooms, billiard rooms, a lounge, a dining room to seat 200, smaller private dining rooms, a cafeteria, a large roof garden and more than 500 bedrooms.

The Fraternity Clubs Building formally opened on February 22, 1924. In March 1924, 18 clubs had separate quarters in the building, including the Cornell Club of New York, associated with Cornell University.

In September 1931, a 16-year lease of the building was purchased by Associated Sports Clubs from the Allerton New York Company.

In 1932, ninety rooms of the fourth and fifth floors were redecorated to receive women.

In October 1932, the S.W. Straus Co., Inc. was ordered into a Martin act receivership by Supreme Court Justice Alfred V. Norton, according to the New York Times (October 8, 1932).

In 1935, the Fraternity Clubs Building was renamed Midston House, an Allerton club residence.

In 1958, the Midston House became part of a new hotel chain formed under the name of Mansion Hotels. According to the New York Times (January 23, 1960), the property was bought by corporations controlled by David Bisgeier and Hyman I. Cohen, who owned and operated the Hyde Park Hotel, Madison Avenue and 77th Street and others in New York. They also bought the Allerton House at 138 East Thirty-eighth Street and 311 Lexington Avenue. Albert D. Abrecht, for many years manager of the Dorset Hotel in New York City, has been appointed general manager of the Allerton and the Midston House. Improvements planned for the two hotels included a new front for Midston House. The Walter M. Ballard Corporation designed the alterations.

In 1961, the Midston House was renamed Hotel Lancaster, after a major renovation when the lounge was converted into a street-level restaurant. In 1983, after another renovation, it became Madison Towers with 300 rooms. About 2002 it became the Jolly Madison Towers Hotel.


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Fraternity Clubs Building


Fraternity Clubs Building in a vintage postcard by Lumitone Photoprint New York, published about 1930. Madison Avenue is on the right.




Allerton House hotels


Italian Loggia


Hotels NYC


The Winslow, another Allerton House on Madison Avenue.






Above, detail of main entrance showing Italian loggia on second floor. Below, summer lounge. Photos by John Wallace Gillies published in The Architectural Forum, July 1924.


Madison Avenue




Summer lounge


Club room


NY Hotels


Upper floors of the Fraternity Clubs Building, 1924 (unknown photographer). Pavilions and towers crown the building.


Winslow Hotel


Fraternity Clubs Building on Madison Avenue


Roof garden Arcade. Photo by John Wallace Gillies published in The Architectural Forum, July 1924.


Historic Hotels


One of the first floor club rooms.