This Chic Boutique Hotel Honors the Powerhouse Women’s Org That Once Occupied the Building
Rohe Creative’s all-female team wove history throughout Washington Square West’s new “invisible service” hotel.
It really is a once-in-a-lifetime project,” says Kate Rohrer, owner and creative director of female- operated Rohe Creative. She’s referring to Washington Square West’s Guild House, a 12-suite boutique hotel opening this month. But the building — an unassuming 1850s Italianate rowhome — is more than a hotel. It’s a National Historic Landmark; in 1906, it became home to the New Century Guild, a group of powerhouse women who advocated for the growing female workforce. In 2018, the property was sold to its current owners, who hired Rohrer — and, fittingly, her all-female team — to reimagine the space as an “invisible service” hotel (few amenities, no on-site staff). “They leaned on us to come up with a way to celebrate the history of the building, all the women involved — to let those stories live on through each room’s design,” Rohrer says.
After researching and selecting 12 women they felt best represented the guild, Rohrer, principal designer Lisa Hines, and the Rohe Creative team got to work telling their stories through subtle design touches. The end result? A seamless — and endlessly stylish — blend of history and modernity. “It’s eclectic, but it’s not messy or haphazard,” Rohrer notes. “It’s informed.”
“Each room is completely different, but the common thread through all of them is celebrating the story of each woman. Every furniture piece, table, piece of artwork and fabric ties back to that woman.” — Kate Rohrer
Named for former guild president Edith Brubaker, this suite features a glam mix of textures: original crystal chandeliers, graphic Art Deco wallpaper, antique brass lamps, oak and brass nightstands, and a tufted velvet headboard.
To celebrate guild founder Eliza Turner’s love of nature (she often escaped the city for her suburban farmhouse), Rohrer’s team infused the Eliza suite with a soft botanical feel. In the sitting area, an acanthus-patterned sofa is framed by original millwork.
Formerly the guild’s dining room, the lounge — called the Library — is the only public space in the hotel. A custom 22-foot-long tufted velvet banquette, shelves lined with books (many left behind by the guild), and a sweeping pastoral mural lend the space a rich, warm feel.
The yellow kitchenette in the Edith room nods to the yellow-and-white “Vote for Women” armband that the suffragette wore as she marched in women’s rights parades.
Published as “History Reimagined” in the September 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.