The Rosslyn Hotel

rosslyn hotel los AngelesThe Rosslyn Hotel “in the heart of Los Angeles” was a large tourist hotel consisting of two units- the main hotel and the annex on the northwest and southwest corners of Main and Fifth streets. My great-grandfather worked there as an electrician from 1914 to 1941.

The Rosslyn proprietors were brothers Dwight and George Hart. They got their start in the hotel business as teens, helping their father run the old Natick House hotel at Main & First streets. The boys took over its operation after their father died c. 1892.

Rosslyn Hotel
They also opened the original Rosslyn at 443 S. Main St, converting two existing 1890s hotels. When the northwest corner of Fifth & Main came available in 1913, they jumped at the chance to expand the hotel.

old Rosslyn Hotel

The old Rosslyn Hotel

Architects Parkinson & Bergstrom designed the “new Rosslyn” which opened November 9, 1914.

rossyln hotel

In 1923, knowing they would soon face competition from the new Biltmore Hotel rising a few blocks away at Fifth & Olive streets, the brothers had Parkinson design an annex, which was built on the southwest corner of Fifth and Main opposite the 1914 hotel. It opened on December 29, 1923. The annex had its own lobby and entrance but contained mostly guest rooms; the dining room and other amenities were in the main building. The two units were connected under Fifth St. by a 145-ft. marble-lined subway.

rosslyn hotel

Jan 1, 1924 LA Times

rosslyn hotel

The auto entrance (shown with an arrow in the top image) was added in May 1927 to provide private access to the lobby off crowded Main St., by cutting through part of the original 1890s Rosslyn adjacent to the north. Both the 1890s hotel buildings, the auto entrance along with them, were demolished in 1954 for parking.

rosslyn hotel

rosslyn hotel

The Rosslyn Hotel’s second floor dining room was popular as long as the Hart Brothers ran it. The menu changed daily. This one was for November 26, 1926

rosslyn hotel

Postcard postmarked 1926 but probably taken earlier, looking north on Main St. from Fifth. Two streetcars can be seen- a Pacific Electric “red car” and a yellow car of the Los Angeles Railway. The curious structure on the sidewalk is for directing streetcar traffic at this busy corner.

rossyln hotel

The rooftop signs have had neon added to them in recent years but were originally electric. One of my great-grandfather’s duties was keeping them lit.

Picture1

Herbert Graham on the Rosslyn’s roof in the 1920s

rossyln hotel, auto stage

The Rossyln Auto Stage (aka a bus) shown here at the nearby Santa Fe’s La Grande Station, met all trains. The Southern Pacific depot was likewise only a couple blocks away.

George Hart died in 1929. Dwight continued to operate the hotel solo. He died in May 1942, after which the Rosslyn was sold to a syndicate headed by hotel men Conrad Hilton and J.W. Drown. They kept the Rosslyn name until the hotel closed in 1959, however. The buildings reopened in 1979 as separate hotels, with the annex retaining the name Rosslyn; the 1914 building became The Frontier. It is now lofts residences.

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3 thoughts on “The Rosslyn Hotel

  1. Thank you for posting this interesting piece about the Rosslyn Hotels, which included some surprising information which I had never heard. My Grandfather was Dwight H. Hart, He passed away 15 years before I was born so I never had the privilege of first hand information about the Rosslyns. The hotels were closed and abandoned when I was a baby, so my mother (who was born in the penthouse in 1916) never really talked much about them. I suppose it was hard for her to think about how badly they had declined. But what no one in my family ever mentioned to me was that Conrad HIlton purchased the Rosslyn not long after my grandfather died. If not for your article, I may never have know this important fact.

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    • Very interesting Lohriena, thank you. We’re in debt to the Harts for taking great-grandpa in as a teenager and teaching him the electrical trade. Out of loyalty for that he worked for the Rosslyn for the rest of their lives.

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