The Bancroft Hotel in Miami

Hotel terrazzo entrance

I recently returned from a holiday in the US, and while in Miami I came across a very interesting building ….’The Bancroft Hotel’.

Set just one block behind the main Ocean Drive in Miami, is this still beautiful 1930’s Art-Deco Hotel. 

Miami has very many Art-Deco building, which thankfully have mostly been renovated, after The ‘Miami Design Preservation League’ was formed in the 1970’s to save these wonderfully stylish building from being destroyed, and the sight of them today provides a wonderful step back in time to what must have been a very different Miami in the 1930's.

The Bancroft hotel does however look a little sad, when compared with some of these other renovated building and looks to have been stood vacant for a while and in need of some loving care.
Records show that it was built in the height of the art-deco boom in 1929-30, under the ownership of an Archie Greenberg who came from Worcester, Massachusetts. His parents, Max and Lena Greenberg originated from Poland, and they were all living together in the newly completed hotel on the 1940 census, together with hotel staff and guests

1940 census

The original plans of construction go into details of all the find art-deco features of the hotel, and in its heyday it must have been a very stunning building, as the following pictures show.
An architect’s description of the building was as follows:
‘Asymmetrical facade designs; Building rounded at southwest corner; Continuous eyebrows at every floor level that conform to building shape; Wide bands of glass block stacked on top of each other, divided by small-scale eyebrows; Exterior terrazzo floor design; Horizontal banding: three concave bands run through window levels at every floor level.’

1930's postcard

On the west side of the building is an original sculptural relief panel by Earl LaPan [1908-1996], a famous local art-deco painter and sculptor who lived locally, and who in the 1930 was commissioned to provide artwork for many of the new hotels being built at that time in Miami.

Earl LaPan sculptural
West Side with sculptural

Records show that the Hotel went into major alteration in the 1980, when it was turned into private apartments and a restaurant, and as mentioned earlier, the restaurant looked to be closed for business when I was there.

Just how it got it’s Bancroft name, remains a bit of a mystery. It is known that Archie Greenberg came to Miami from Worcester, Massachusetts, and there was another Bancroft Hotel in that city, built in the 1920’s and run as part of a large hotel group, and that hotel was named after a local historian and politician called George Bancroft.... so maybe Archie Geenberg, was not the owner of the Miami hotel but just the front-man for this large hotel group…who knows?

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