The Beaux-Arts style Hotel Seville was constructed in two stages. The 12-story plus penthouse corner property, built between 1901-1904, was designed by Harry Allan Jacobs. Following the hotel’s initial success, property owner and patent attorney Louis C. Raegner then commissioned an 11-story through block annex created by Charles T. Mott and constructed between 1906-1907.
The building’s distinctive features would include “sculpted lion heads, festooned cartouches, bays of bowed windows, ornamental metal, and stripes of limestone and red brick,” according to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s 2018 designation report. The LPC also noted that the Hotel Seville “complemented and supported the north of Madison Square neighborhood that evolved from affluent residential blocks into a bustling commercial and business district.”
The hotel primarily “catered to middle-class people with comfortable incomes who appreciated moderately priced, yet elegantly appointed hotels” wrote the LPC. “Lobbies, bars, and dining rooms were popular meeting places, providing a place for business and gossip, where guests could weave themselves into the social groups they needed for their work or personal ambitions. The public parlors, often outfitted with a piano, became a favorite place for women to socialize and enjoy tea.” Harpo Marx of the Marx Brothers comedy act reportedly was employed as a bellhop at the Hotel Seville and also wrote skits based upon his early work experiences there.
By 1964, the Hotel Seville had earned the recommendation as a reputable place for visitors to stay while in New York City for the World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. And during the 1980s, the hotel’s top six floors served as dormitories for college students due to the “extremely tight housing market and a growing interest in living on campus,” reported The New York Times on October 27, 1985. One student told the newspaper that “he had to dodge falling plaster when he took a shower, but that the large double bed more than made up for it.”
But in 1987, the Hotel Seville shuttered its doors. The property would soon acquire a different owner, an interior makeover, and new name as the Carlton Hotel on Madison Avenue. Three decades later, however, with another change in ownership and a redesign update the building rebranded as The James New York-NoMad in 2017. Package perks at the luxury boutique hotel have included 40% off stays of four nights or more to people with the first or last name of James. “As one of the most popular names in the United States,” reported cnn.com in 2021, “the hotel might now be in for a wave of Jameses occupying its 360 rooms throughout the year.”
The James New York-NoMad also welcomed the 2018 neighborhood debut of Scarpetta with its menu of gourmet Italian cuisine and celebrity sightings that have included Mick Jagger and Michael Jordan, as well as the opening of the Seville, a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge named in tribute to the Hotel Seville. “The hotel continues to fill the same function it was designed for more than 100 years ago,” concluded the LPC’s designation report, “and remains a fine example of the Beaux-Arts style and a significant contributor to the streetscape along Madison Avenue.”