Rising from the ashes may be the only way to characterize the activity going on at the American Hotel on East Main Street, Freehold Borough.
From its newly renovated and elegantly crafted ballroom walls and shiny chandeliers to its upscale modern red and black lounge, to 20 new suites, it can safely be said the American Hotel is on its way home to the town that has cherished it for almost 200 years.
The hotel, which had been neglected and left in disrepair by its previous owners, was a project the new owner, Steve Goldberg, took on with a vision, a dream and a great deal of grit and moxie. Goldberg, of Manalapan, purchased the Freehold Borough landmark that has been a favorite meeting place, banquet facility and memory maker for hundreds of area residents over the years, for $2.5 million on March 23, 2006. When he purchased the hotel, Goldberg was well aware of its history, its memories and the place it held in the hearts of many. His original plan was to renovate and restore the historic hotel to its former glory, but as fate would have it, part of the hotel had to come down due to structural deficiencies.
When he made the decision to take down part of the hotel, Goldberg committed to making the new building look like the original. As the new American Hotel prepares for its debut in a few months, it is apparent that he honored that commitment.
The exterior of the new building looks much the same as the original hotel did when it was built. Painted in a mustard gold, the American Hotel now has a new entrance on East Main Street. Windows that once lined the ballroom have now become atrium doors leading out to the brick promenade for outdoor seating along the downtown’s restaurant row. The hotel rooms are suites and two bridal suites have wrought iron balconies overlooking East Main Street, just like the original hotel.
“It’s very exciting,” Goldberg said.
The pink ballroom, no longer covered with slivers of glass and piles of debris, is no longer pink and has been renamed The Lennox Room.
Goldberg, who designed the interior of the hotel with contractor Anthony Cammallere, who owns T&K Contractors, Freehold, and Rob Kash, who owns the Metropolitan Cafe, Freehold, handed over the artistry and decoration of the ballroom walls to muralists Patty Ruglio and Amy Rhone, of Ruglio & Rhone, Tinton Falls.
In the Lennox Room, Ruglio and Rhone have created a tastefully elegant landscape done in muted shades of cream and tan. A mural is surrounded by gold metallic walls with an antique wash framing the focal point of the room — the original large brick fireplace. The color scheme is deep burgundy with reds and golds. The floor will be carpeted and there will be a dance floor. The room will accommodate 140 people. A smaller room adjoins this and can be closed off to offer smaller parties for 30 or 40 guests.
The Majestic Ballroom, once known as the “blue” room, also bears the artistry of Ruglio and Rhone, with its antique metallic wainscoting, crafted by the women, and metallic antique gold and brass background surrounding the large fireplace. The color scheme in this ballroom is black and gold and the room will accommodate up to 250 people. The artists took walls that were basically flat and, giving them dimension and depth with their wainscoting, designed a room that now appears more “old-world” than its predecessor. Windows in this ballroom have now been changed to atrium doors, which lead out onto the back deck, which will have a canvas roof and will be used for cocktail hours, according to Cammallare.
Upstairs, there will be a spa and two massage rooms for guests. The 20 guest rooms are all painted a “peanut shell” or medium brown color and have luxurious bathrooms with glass shower stalls, some have large tubs.
A lounge bar will greet guests as they enter the lobby of the hotel. A restaurant will offer a large bar, seating for 140 guests and an old world steakhouse menu, according to Goldberg.
Goldberg did manage to uncover some hidden treasures within the old hotel. A series of black wrought iron paned windows, which were not visible in the hotel for many years, were unearthed behind a sheet rock wall. They are now part of the multi-purpose room. He also plans to work on making that space a supper club or comedy theater.
The new American Hotel is now taking bookings for events and according to Goldberg, “Our calendar is already filling up. We started accepting reservations for 2010 banquets and parties in August and the response has been fantastic. Since John McCarthy has joined our staff as general manager, we have been keeping him very busy with banquet and party planning. Our future events calendar is filling pretty quickly. A lot of people like the idea and feeling that they can have their family and friends gather at the hotel and have their event in the same place their families did. I am really grateful that so many people are trusting us with their special moments and events.”
Since purchasing the American Hotel more than three years ago, Goldberg has expressed his interest in keeping the spirit of the memories of the old hotel alive. He said he understood what the American Hotel meant to the people of Freehold Borough.
“Some people have come by and shared their memories of the hotel with me. It’s very neat when a future bride comes in and tells us this is where her parents got married,” he said. “Sometimes I come in late at night when all of the contractors have gone and the place is very quiet, and I can imagine it open and full of guests. It really is very thrilling.”
Maybe the “homeless ghosts” of events past that Goldberg spoke about will now finally have a place to call home again.
The American Hotel may be reached at 732-431-3220.
Contact Clare Celano at firstname.lastname@example.org.