Constructed in 1898 the hotel on the corner of West St. and Barrow St. operated originally as the Knickerbocker Hotel, then from 1910 to 2000 under several Keller names, including New Hotel Keller, Keller Abingdon Hotel, and Keller Hotel.
The following is taken from Landmarks Preservation Commission, March 6, 2007, Designation List 387, LP-2122. Keller Hotel, 150 Barrow Street (aka 384-385 West Street, 384-385 West Side Highway), Manhattan, "William Farrell, a prominent coal merchant, was born in Ireland c. 1827 and came to this country as a young boy. He opened a coal yard at 144, 146, 148 and 150 Barrow Street in 1875, a branch yard at 622-628 Greenwich Street in 1884 and another yard at 129th Street and the Boulevard in 1887. Farrell bought five lots comprising 385 West Street, 384 West Street aka 150 Barrow Street, 144, 146 and 148 Barrow Street from John S. McLean on December 10, 1890. He built the hotel building on two of the lots in 1897-98 at an estimated cost of $68,000. His coal business continued in operation after his death in 1910 with Thomas F. Farrell as the president. The first hotel to operate in the building was called the Knickerbocker Hotel. It remained in business until about 1910. Thomas F. Farrell, a merchant who operated a coal business at the same address on Barrow Street as William Farrell, was the proprietor of the hotel until 1903. After 1903 Thomas F. Farrell continued in business as a successful coal merchant. In 1903, Fritz Brodt (aka Fred Brodt) took over as proprietor of the Knickerbocker Hotel under a sub-lease from Thomas F. Farrell. He ran the hotel and a saloon on the premises until about 1910. Brodt was born in France in 1845. From 1908 to 1910, Brodt had a contract with the United States government to furnish food to immigrants being detained at Ellis Island. His contract was terminated by the Commissioner of Immigration William Williams after the Commissioner accused Brodt’s employees of coercing immigrants to purchase expensive packages of food. The hotel operated under the name New Hotel Keller from about 1911 to about 1929, by the New Hotel Keller Co., Inc. with Joseph P. Mullarkey as the president. The New York Telephone Directories list the hotel as the Keller Abington [sic] Hotel from 1929 to 1993 and as the Keller Hotel from 1993 to 2000. The hotel was located directly across from the Hoboken ferry and close to other ferries and transatlantic cruise ships. In this location it could have attracted travelers who were newly arrived by ship or who had come by ship for a short stay, as well as sailors. The Emergency Relief Bureau directory of October 19, 1935 listed the Keller Hotel as one of three hotels in Manhattan for transient sailors. In the 1980s the Keller Hotel became a single room occupancy hotel in which the City housed indigent people. It is now vacant but the interior is being altered to convert the upper floors into residential apartments." (Full text is available at http://s-media.nyc.gov/agencies/lpc/lp/2212.pdf.)
Census reports from 1910 through 1940 yield sporadic information about the Hotel Keller. The 1910 U. S. Census listed 11 people living at 150 Barrow St. The head of household was Eugene Glass, 23, born Russia, immigrated 1905, alien, clerk, hotel. The other 10 mostly had occupations relating to "hotel." It may be the census taker did not record the transient residents.
The 1920 Census recorded only 3 residents at 150 Barrow St., consisting of A. J. Henderson (employer, own hotel) with his wife (cashier, hotel) and daughter.
The 1930 Census recorded 20 residents, including 4 with occupations relating to seamanship.
The 1940 Census recorded 98 lodgers at the Keller-Abington [sic] Hotel, 150 Barrow St. These included 5 seamen, and 21 others working on the docks or as longshoremen.
An uncredited photo dated 1918 in the New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows the corner of West St. and Barrow with a sign reading Hotel.
A photo by Percy Loomis Sperr in the New York Public Library's Digital Collections shows the hotel in 1929, when the sign read Hotel Keller Abingdon.
A later NYPL photo dates from 1940. By then the more modest 1980s Hotel Keller sign had replaced the larger Keller Abingdon version.
This view of the Hotel Keller was taken in 1993.
This view dates from 2013. The KELLER is gone!
Copyright © 2016 Walter Grutchfield