"Leading house, No mosquitos"
In 1904, when Oves became ill, Somers T. Champion took over management. In 1909 Champion was advertising the hotel as a “model family hotel” with a capacity of 200. Whether or not it was a model hotel, within a few years it seemed the Metropolitan was due for an upgrade. It underwent alterations to the tune of $250,000, an amazing amount in its day, to make it an all-year-round hotel. It reopened in 1912 under the management of Francis Yarnall who claimed in an ad placed in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “The Hotel Perfect is every respect.” These were the best of times for Asbury Park, with prominent families in business and politics spending summer vacations or the entire season at the shore. Many of these families were the celebrities of the day and their comings and goings—along with who they were associating with, visiting, or traveling with—were constantly noted in society columns.
In 1896, the first American-made gasoline car was produced. By 1899, thirty manufacturers had produced 2,500 vehicles. But 1909 was the year things really took off—Henry Ford introduced the Model-T, and one year after Yarnall took over management of the Metropolitan, the United States had already produced about 485,000 autos. “Automobile parties,” as they were often called, were the new rage. Groups of friends and families would plan their trips together and these “parties” would arrive at hotels en masse. Waiting journalists would list the names for readers to marvel at all who had the luxury of owning an automobile. In 1915, Asbury Park developed an automobile club which had its beginnings at the Metropolitan Hotel. The Trenton Evening Times quoted them as having expectations to become, “the leading automobile club in New Jersey within a very short time.” Management changed hands once again in 1916 when Harry E. DeWees took over and began renovating the hotel to accomodate his own vistion. In December of 1916, in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he advertised the Metropolitan as, “A new winter hotel of exceeding attractiveness.”
The hotel reopened a month after Weinblatt and his wife upgraded the facilities and in June of that year, they took out an extravagant ad in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “One of the Largest and Finest Dietary Law Hotels,” was its claim, seeking to draw a large Jewish patronage. It was a success with many local clubs, such as the Central New Jersey Branch of the National Women’s League of the United Synagogue which held their spring conference there in 1970. The Hadassah Medical Hospital benefited from the annual Donor Day held at the hotel that same year by the Henrietta Szold Group of Hadassah, and numerous other Jewish organizations took to using the hotel for meetings and events which met their dietary needs. But in 1984, after many years of dedicated support from the community, the Trenton Evening Times revealed that the hotel was not providing kosher food as it had advertised. An inspection had discovered that the hotel was serving non-kosher meat and the Metropolitan was fined over $4,000.
Though perhaps not a direct cause, the unfortunate revelation of the hotel’s misleading advertising case as a harbinger of the end of the hotel’s prosperity. In 1987 the Weinblatts sold it for $2.25 million. The new owners, Karim Ahmed Elsaid and Gomaa Elsaid filed for bankruptcy protection the following year. In 1993 it was sold for $150,000 to 309 Corp, a group of Morristown investors. After their purchase, it remained empty. It deteriorated to the point where no investor desired to revive it. Finally, on March 1 of 2008 its fate was sealed. The once grand hotel was demolished.
Learn more about the glory days of Asbury Park in the book Asbury Park’s Glory Days, The Story of an American Resort by Helen-Chantal Pike.
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