The History of the Best Western Robert Treat Hotel
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Our Robert Treat Hotel
The Robert Treat Hotel, a Newark landmark, is celebrating its 99th anniversary in 2015. The hotel was completed in 1916 and today remains an important part of both the City of Newark’s and New Jersey’s history.
The Robert Treat Hotel was finished just in time for the arrival and stay of President Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith, who came to New Jersey to represent the national administration for the Newark Board of Trade annual dinner as part of the 250th anniversary of the city of Newark.
President Wilson stayed in a suite on the fifth floor of the Robert Treat Hotel, so that he and the First Lady would be far enough removed from the ground floor, while not being too far above ground. Thereafter, this luxurious hotel room would be known as the “Presidential Suite.” The United States Secret Service arrived at the hotel one week in advance of President Wilson to inspect every inch of the building as well as the hotel suite.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the original hotel was its lobby, where huge columns combined with intricate lighting features over white marble steps, tile floors, and lavish rugs. There was plentiful lounge space, large palms and potted plants, and writing desks and tables on a balcony for afternoon tea.
The hotel was intended to make use of every luxury and technology available in the hotel industry at the time, and was the first hotel of its kind in the city of Newark. The lobby includes a profound portrait of Captain Robert Treat over the fireplace mantle, depicting Treat landing his ship in Newark and being greeted by an Indian.
The Robert Treat Hotel was named after Captain Robert Treat, the governor of Connecticut, who also is known as the founder of Newark. Treat, an American Colonial leader, originally was dispatched to purchase land for a new settlement in the area that is now Newark, however, he and his men arrived without the proper documentation and the Indians refused to let them settle.
A conference was held to discuss the negotiation of Newark’s land with the Indians. It is with great pride in Newark’s history and with its founder, Robert Treat, that one remembers a truly straightforward business transaction, carried out with as much honesty and candor as if the sellers had been experienced in such negotiations.
The land was sold in May 1666, but the deed of sale was not signed until July 11, 1667. The Indians received approximately $700 in exchange for most of the area that is now Essex County. Soon after Newark’s acquisition, Captain Robert Treat, a Puritan, established the Old First Church in Newark, a national historic landmark and a pillar of Newark’s long and vibrant history.
In 1980, the Robert Treat Hotel became the first hotel in Newark listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. This placed the Robert Treat Hotel among the 43 sites in Newark added to the National Register, including the First National State Bank; the Krueger, Clark and Ballantine mansions; Sacred Heart Cathedral; and Old First Church.
The Robert Treat Hotel was purchased in 1987 by The Berger Organization, under the direction of Miles Berger, company president. The building’s original lobby, which had been destroyed in a fire, was completely refurbished under Berger’s direction. New air conditioning and high-speed elevators were installed. A new look and feel for this historic hotel and landmark were planned, which today has reached fruition.
Since The Berger Organization’s purchase of the Robert Treat Hotel, the city of Newark has experienced a remarkable renaissance. The hotel is located directly across from Military Park and the magnificent New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a thriving theatrical venue that attracts patrons from throughout the tristate area. Maize restaurant, located on the hotel’s ground level, has earned industry-wide accolades and has emerged as one of the region’s premier dining venues.
The Robert Treat Hotel has a long and extraordinary history, with its name dating back to the first founding of Newark, one of the Unites States’ oldest cities. The hotel has been instrumental in helping to grow and revitalize Newark, and remains a preeminent city landmark.