Philadelphia's Most Historic Hotel
A Home with History
The Rittenhouse’s home has had many incarnations. The square on which the hotel is located was named after celebrated Philadelphian David Rittenhouse, and its modern layout was completed in 1913 to the design of Beaux-Arts architect Paul Cret.
At the turn of the 20th century there was a mansion where this historic Philadelphia hotel now stands. Living there were A.J. and Lois Buchanan Cassatt. A.J. was president of the Pennsylvania Railroad and masterminded its extension through to New York City, including the construction of the once magnificent Penn Station. Lois was a strong presence in the city’s social scene.
A.J.’s sister Mary was a renowned painter and printmaker who travelled to France and had work selected and exhibited by the Paris Salon of 1868. In recognition of her remarkable story, Mary is the namesake of our lounge, now renowned the world over for its exceptional Afternoon Tea.
The Cassatt family sold the property to the Episcopal Church of Pennsylvania, and the Church made its headquarters onsite. The Academy of Notre Dame was also established here. Among the generations of Philadelphia’s young boys and girls educated at the Academy were Ethel, John and Lionel Barrymore, prominent members of America’s most famous acting dynasty.
In the late 1960s architect Donald Reiff drew up the design of the current building. He angled it to provide stunning views of the Square and the city for the maximum number of guests. Construction began in the early 1970s and the property eventually opened to guests in 1989. Some of the hotel’s original design is reflected in today’s layout, but there have been a few striking and important upgrades along the way.