Classics Revived: Amazing Conversions from Historic Hotels to Luxury Rental Apartments

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A good building can define an area — even a city — and lend itself as a hallmark and symbol for a community. Historic buildings carry with them the cultural and social heritage of an area, being part of its history. The desire to preserve such buildings and breathe new life into them gave rise to an ever more popular concept: adaptive reuse.

Among the most spectacular projects in this field are conversions from historic hotels to apartment complexes. Usually, these old, imposing buildings were placed in central locations and were well-connected to their neighborhoods. Their beautiful architecture, ornate ball rooms, and grandiose conference rooms lend old-time glamour to modern apartment living.

This story reveals some of the historic hotels of the nation which have become luxurious apartment buildings, bringing them in the eyes of the public as examples of history and modernity coexisting. We have selected high-end properties which still maintain a vintage air in their design, showing their residents how it feels like to live in luxury while being surrounded by history. Take a look at these transformations down below:

East 9 at Pickwick Plaza: former Pickwick Plaza Hotel, Kansas City, MO

adaptive reuse east 9 plackwick plaza

Images courtesy of East 9 at Pickwick Plaza

The East 9 at Pickwick Plaza has been ahead of its time ever since it was constructed, being a mixed-use development of retail and commercial space, as well as one of the largest bus terminals in the area in the early 1930s. It represented a major point of interest, as the hotel was the go-to place for anyone with business downtown. Designed by Wight & Wight, the building carries the staple aesthetic of the city, and in 2001 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

adaptive reuse hotels

Images courtesy of East 9 at Pickwick Plaza

The building was purchased in 2013 by Gold Crown Properties and it was brought back to life in 2017. It now features a mix of commercial and residential space, as well as street-side retail space, which hearkens back to its origin. The interiors are luxurious and amenities include fitness facilities, an event lounge, indoor salt-water pool and concierge service, among others. Both apartment and community amenities are sure to offer a high-end experience to all who seek it.

Strathmore Apartments: former Strathmore Hotel, Detroit, MI

adaptive reuse hotels strathmore

Images courtesy of McCorkmack Baron

The Strathmore Hotel was originally built in 1924 in the Willis-Selden Historic District of Detroit. As a hotel, it offered both short-term and longer-term options, and it functioned as such until 1964, when it was renovated as an apartment building, which was occupied until 2004. As the neighborhood underwent a process of gentrification, the historic building remained slightly behind, until it was picked up again and renovated into an apartment complex that featured both market-rate and affordable housing.

adaptive reuse hotel residential

Images courtesy of Sam Fentress

Now, Strathmore Apartments offer a deluxe experience for residents who want to call Midtown Detroit home. Apart from the convenient location, the apartments were renovated to include state-of-the-art amenities and features, including fitness centers, classic common areas, energy efficient appliances and elegant details.

The Divine Lorraine: former Divine Lorraine Hotel, Philadelphia, PA

adaptive reuse divine lorraine hotel

Old image courtesy of EB Realty Management Corporation; New image source: Google street view

The building that today is the Divine Lorraine started out in 1893 as The Lorraine Apartments, a residential complex, and became a hotel in 1900, when it was purchased by the Metropolitan Hotel Company. The change in the name came in 1948, when Father Divine — leader of the Divine Peace Mission Movement — bought the property. As The Divine Lorraine Hotel, the building served as a center for the Peace Mission conferences and activities, until it closed in 1999. After going through different sales and investors, it was finally converted back to an apartment complex by Eric Blumenfeld Realty Management.

divine lorraine interiors residential

Images courtesy of EB Realty

The Divine Lorraine is now a luxury apartment complex with restaurants at the ground floor. As a historic building, it maintained its late 19th-century appeal, but it is now a modern home for many, in the beautiful Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.

The Franklin Residences: former Benjamin Franklin Hotel, Philadelphia, PA

adaptive reuse then now franklin hotel

Old image is part of the public domain; New image copyrights: Kenneth C. Zirkel

The Benjamin Franklin hotel opened in 1925, on the site of the former Continental Hotel — one of the most famous hotels in Philly, which played host to guests like Charles Dickens and Abraham Lincoln. After the demolition of the Continental, the Benjamin Franklin served as a go-to for the visitors of Philadelphia until 1980, when it was closed down. In 1982, the building of the former hotel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

adaptive reuse the franklin philadelphia

Images courtesy of Ave Living

In 1986, the hotel was repurposed into an apartment building for the first time. In 1988, the hotel’s ballroom was restored as well, after being converted to office space for a brief period. In 2011, Korman Communities bought “The Ben”, transforming it into a high-end apartment community, while also offering furnished short-term options. The Franklin impresses with state-of-the-art amenities and features, including fitness centers, conference rooms, and concierge service, as well as on-site restaurants, shops, and spas.

The Morton: former Morton Hotel, Grand Rapids, MI

adaptive reuse the morton hotel

Old image source: Grand Rapids History & Special Collections, Archives, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Rapids, MI; New image courtesy of Rockford Construction

In the heart of Grand Rapids, The Morton is a notable landmark with a rich history. Completed in 1922, the building served as a point of interest for business travelers who came to buy furniture from Grand Rapids manufacturers. During times when the economic situation was tough, The Morton had to adapt as well, and eventually, in 1970, it had to close its doors. In a contract with the U.S. government it was redesigned to host residential apartments, and in 2011 Rockford Construction purchased The Morton, performing significant upgrades and converting it into an elegant multi-family community.

adaptive reuse the morton

Images courtesy of Rockford Construction

While maintaining its historic appeal, the building now offers modern amenities and features for its residents to enjoy a high-end experience. The Morton features a fitness center, an outdoor courtyard with barbecue area, high-quality apartment finishes and views over the downtown area of Grand Rapids.

The Shoreland: former Shoreland Hotel, Chicago, IL

adaptive reuse shoreland

Images courtesy of The Shoreland

The Shoreland Hotel opened in 1926, close to the shore of Lake Michigan. It was one of the largest and most modern hotels, with views over the beautiful lake. Designed by architect Meyer Fridstein, the facade of the hotel combined brick and terracotta with details echoing of both the sea and the land. Although the design started out as inspired by the Spanish Revival style, after a redecoration in the 1930s the hotel embraced the style of Art Deco, becoming a modern and elegant landmark.

shoreland chicago adaptive reuse

Images courtesy of The Shoreland

In 2013, The Shoreland was taken over by Mac Properties and it underwent a process of revitalization and renovation, as it was adapted into a luxury apartments residential complex. While many historic elements were preserved — including the original lobby and ballrooms, as well as detailed elements like windows and decorations — The Shoreland was brought up to date with the latest trends in facilities and amenities. Besides offering a luxurious experience to its residents, the renovated Shoreland is also LEED certified, as its renovation was focused on creating a sustainable, energy-efficient building.

The Statler Residences: former Statler Hilton Hotel, Dallas, TX

adaptive reuse hotels statler

Images courtesy of The Statler

Completed in 1956, The Statler was once the largest convention facility in the South, and a staple in the hotel industry. Featuring innovations in materials and construction techniques, The Statler was unique and paramount to the development of both the neighborhood and the city. It included a ballroom and conference rooms, a heliport on the roof and 20 floors of guest rooms. It is part of the Historic Hotels of America program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

statler dallas interiors adaptive reuse

Images courtesy of The Statler

In 2015 it underwent renovations to be brought back to life as a residential, retail and commercial space, which is now the place for elegant living. It features a variety of amenities, from its outdoor areas and pool, high tech fitness center and on-site restaurants, to luxurious apartments with hardwood floors, quartz counter-tops and energy-efficient appliances.

The Paris: former Hotel Paris, New York City, NY

adaptive reuse the paris

Old image source:; New image courtesy of Stellar Management

The Hotel Paris on the Upper West Side of NYC was constructed in 1931 in the Art Deco style. After undergoing multiple transactions in 2007, 2010 and 2013, it finally reached Stellar Management in 2015 to be redesigned into the historic residential complex it is now.

the paris new york interiors

Images courtesy of Stellar Management

Located in the Upper West Side, The Paris offers amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson river. Renovated with high-end materials, the apartments are vibrant and inviting, and range from studios to 4-bedroom apartments. The building offers attractive amenities such as a swimming pool, fitness center and rooftop access.

The Rice Urban Lofts: former Rice Hotel, Houston, TX

then now

Images courtesy of Greystar

The Rice Hotel opened its doors in 1913, in the place of a former Victorian hotel. More wings were added over time, and the hotel reached its E-shaped layout in 1925. It functioned as a prominent hotel and a go-to for many A-listers and personalities, hosting glamorous events in its Crystal Ballroom; however, it was shut down in 1977, due to new fire codes. After 20 years of vacancy, it was converted into an apartment complex in 1998, but only became The Rice in 2014, when it was sold to Crow Holdings Capital Partners.

adaptive reuse hotel interiors

Images courtesy of Greystar

As a part of the Houston skyline, The Rice offers its residents amazing views of the downtown area and the experience of luxury high rise apartment living. The complex is very well connected with points of interest in the neighborhood, and it also features restaurants and retail services on site. The historic Crystal Ballroom is still available for special events, after a careful renovation. The apartments are modern and elegant, with designer touches and state-of-the-art features. Community amenities include fitness centers, a virtual workout room, professional concierge services and many more.


Disclaimer: The old pictures presented in this story were credited to the best of our knowledge to those who have given us permission to use them or to the owners (where the information was available).

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Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart.

Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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