The underserved "working girls" of New York at the turn of the century found their hero in William R.H. Martin, heir to a clothing fortune, and a great advocate of marriage for young, working girls. He built a hotel, the Trowmart Inn, to serve these girls, and in 1905 built a 6 story hotel for $150,000, designed with large parlors in which the women could entertain men in a prim, and chaperoned fashion. Says the Daytonian in Manhattan:
Two pianos and a fireplace made the main parlor a focal point of social activity. Three times a week the furniture would be moved to the side for a dance.
“Girls of gentleness and refinement do not care to be courted upon the open highway, nor in public parks, and thus the world is filling with spinsters, who, according to Mr. Martin, had they a proper place in which to entertain their admirers would develop into happy, excellent wives and still happier mothers,” explained the newspaper.
There were also a library, a medical office with a full-time nurse, and—much to the delight of the new residents—numerous bathrooms. A journalist from The New York Sun interviewed a few of the new residents and one girl exclaimed, “Think of having five bathrooms on every floor!”
Another girl added “And of a mattress without lumps and a clothes closet that shuts and locks.”
To enjoy such luxuries the girls paid $3 a week for a shared room, $4.00 for a single room. Two meals a day were included (breakfast and supper), and for 15 cents extra lunch could be had on holidays and Sundays. The rules, as compared with other women-only hotels, were few.
“No man, not even a great-grandfather, may be entertained by a guest in her room or taken on any pretext above the ground floor,” reported The Sun. While guests were not questioned if they returned at a late hour, they were “not expected to make a practice of staying out late at night.”
This is a picture of one of the parlors. Later the Trowmart became a YWCA home, also for working girls.