The twelve-story red-brick building that now houses the Hotel Chelsea was built in 1883, and opened in 1884 as one of the city’s first private apartment cooperatives. At the time Chelsea, and particularly the street on which the hotel was located, was the center of New York’s Theater District. However, within a few years the combination of economic worries and the relocation of the theaters bankrupted the Chelsea cooperative. In 1905, the building was purchased and opened as a hotel. Since 1946, the hotel has been managed by the Bard family, and until recently was run by David Bard and his 72-year-old father Stanley Bard who took over as managing director from his father in 1955.
The hotel has always been a center of artistic and bohemian activity and it houses artwork created by many of the artists who have visited. The hotel was the first building to be listed by New York City as a cultural preservation site and historic building of note.
Famous guests include Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, Stanley Kubrik, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mark Twain, William Burroughs, Edith Piaf, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sid Vicious, and many others…
On June 18, 2007, the hotel’s board of directors ousted Bard as the hotel’s manager. Marlene Krauss, a doctor who is the chief executive of KBL Healthcare Ventures, and David Elder, one of the heirs of an original owner who lives in California, replaced Stanley Bard with management company BD Hotels NY, L.L.C., who have since been terminated. Residents are fighting to return the Bards as managers and majority shareholders to the day to day management of the Chelsea Hotel and have mounted a campaign of banners, art pranks and other protests toward this end.
Support to restore the Bards has come from Actors, Writers, Musicians and other former guests of the hotel, and the effort has gained international attention and support.