he 100-room brick Lafayette Hotel first opened in 1927, at 107-111 S. North Carolina Avenue. During the mid-twentieth century, the hotel became well-known in Atlantic City for its unique features, which included a replica Eiffel Tower on the hotel’s roof. Steel Pier owner Frank Gravatt became involved in the management of the hotel, and because of its proximity to Steel Pier, it was often chosen to lodge performers who were appearing at the Pier. In 1963, Gravatt was honored for his work in renovating and updating the Lafayette, which included “spending more than $2 million to make [it] one of the top hostelries in New Jersey.” These renovations included the addition of a motel wing alongside the original hotel building in 1962, and a rebranding of the complex as the Lafayette Hotel and Motor Inn. In that era, motels were an exciting new type of accommodation for vacationing families, and were almost surpassing Atlantic City’s famous old Boardwalk hotels in their popularity! The Lafayette is most famous, however, for housing the Beatles when they came to Atlantic City to perform in August 1964. The location was chosen due to connections with Gravatt, who had originally booked the Beatles to perform on Steel Pier, but soon changed the venue to Convention Hall out of concern that too many fans could collapse the pier. It was also hoped that fans would not expect the British superstars to be staying in a motel, and thus they would be able to enjoy some relaxing downtime during their three-day stay. Word did get out that the Fab Four was lodged on the 7th floor of the LaFayette, however, and the streets outside were clogged with screaming fans day and night. The crowds were so relentless that the Beatles had to be concealed in a fish truck in order to transport them to their concert. After the exciting British Invasion, business at the hotel returned to normal. In the 1980s, it became owned by Tom Fox, son of Fox Manor hotelier Mildred Fox, and was renamed the World Lafayette Hotel. Poor business, however, led to the Lafayette being foreclosed in 1989. Resorts Casino planned a revitalization project of North Carolina Avenue in the early 1990s which would have the Lafayette renovated into a luxury hotel addition to Resorts, but plans fell through. The Lafayette was torn down in 1996.  H.LHSF.Hotels.Lafayette002 
 H084.Lafayette001  The Lafayette Hotel in the 1960s.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.LHSF.Hotels.Lafayette002.
 Crowds line North Carolina Avenue in the hopes of getting a glimpse of the Beatles during their August 1964 stay at the Lafayette.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Lafayette001.
 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

City Directories
Cross-Reference Directories
Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Local History Subject Files (VF) – Lafayette Motor Inn

Local History Subject Files – The Beatles
Press of Atlantic City, articles from September 10, 1989; August 18, 1993; and September 22, 1996

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The Surf House was one of Atlantic City’s oldest hotels. It opened in 1855, one year after Absecon Island was incorporated as Atlantic City. The hotel was L-shaped, with a unique porch completely obscuring and extending past the front of the building on each side. It was located in the square of land bounded by Atlantic, Kentucky, Illinois, and Pacific Avenues, and had 350 rooms. In the resort’s early days, the Surf House served as an excursion destination for visitors arriving in Atlantic City by train. When a dedicated Excursion House was built in 1869, however, the Surf House experienced its first decline in business. In 1880, it became one of the first hotels to disappear from the Atlantic City skyline, though it wasn’t torn down in the conventional sense. Instead, it was purchased for $30,000 by Daniel Morris, who then, according to the Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County, “sold and scattered the buildings to a dozen widely different sections of the city.” The report noted that those pieces of the Surf House became “stores, hotels and tenements.” Meanwhile, the land which the Surf House occupied was divided into lots and also sold. Mount Vernon Avenue, the small street that today runs inbetween Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Kentucky Avenue, was originally known as Surf Place, in reflection of the hotel which once stood there.

 
H.Bk.974.985Hal.189 
 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
“Annals of Absegami, Vol. 2” Heston Coll. 974.984Hes
“The Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County”, Heston Coll. 974.985Hal

 The Surf House in an undated photograph.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.Bk.974.985Hal.189

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