How the Guild House Hotel in Philadelphia pays homage to women’s history
The all-female team at Rohe Creative has made history through the new “invisible service” hotel in Washington Square West.
It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime project, ”says Kate Rohrer, owner and creative director of Rohé Creative. It refers to the Guild House in Washington Square West, a Opening of a boutique hotel with 12 suites this month. But the building – an unassuming 1850s Italian townhouse – is more than a hotel. It is a national historic monument; in 1906 it became the headquarters of the New Century Guild, a group of powerful women who championed the growth of the female workforce. In 2018, the property was sold to its current owners, who hired Rohrer – and, rightly so, his all-female team – to reimagine the space as an ‘invisible service’ hotel (few amenities, no staff on the spot). “They leaned on us to find a way to celebrate the history of the building, all the women involved – to let those stories live through the design of each room,” Rohrer said.
After researching and selecting 12 women who they believed best represented the guild, Rohrer, lead designer Lisa Hines and the team at Rohe Creative set to work to tell their stories through subtle touches of design. The final result ? A homogeneous – and infinitely elegant – blend of history and modernity. “It’s eclectic, but it’s not messy or random,” Rohrer notes. “It’s informed.
“Each piece is completely different, but the common thread of each one is to celebrate the story of each woman. Every piece of furniture, table, work of art and fabric is linked to this woman. – Kate Rohrer
Named in honor of former Guild President Edith Brubaker, this suite features a glamorous mix of textures: original crystal chandeliers, graphic Art Deco wallpaper, antique brass lamps, oak bedside tables and brass and a velvet padded headboard.
To celebrate the guild founder Eliza Turner’s love of nature (she often escaped town for her suburban farm), Rohrer’s team infused the Eliza Suite with a sweet botanical feel. In the living area, an acanthus-patterned sofa is framed by original joinery.
Formerly the guild dining room, the living room – called the library – is the hotel’s only public space. A 22-foot-long custom tufted velvet bench seat, bookshelves lined with books (many left by the guild), and an expansive pastoral fresco give the space a rich and warm feel.
The yellow kitchenette in the Edith room is reminiscent of the yellow and white “Vote for Women” armband the suffragist wore when she walked in women’s rights parades.
Published under the headline “History Reimagined” in the September 2021 issue of Philadelphia cream magazine.