The Resorts site was originally occupied by two three-story wooden Quaker rooming houses, The Chalfonte House and The Haddon House.
The Chalfonte House was built in 1868 by Elisha and Elizabeth Roberts. They had purchased a plot of land at North Carolina Avenue and Pacific Avenue from John DaCosta for $6,500.00. The hotel was constructed during the winter for a cost of $21,000 and could accommodate 140 guests. They named the hotel for Chalfont St Giles, the town in Buckinghamshire where William Penn is buried. The Chalfonte House was expanded and moved oceanward twice, in 1879 and 1889.
The Haddon House was opened across the street, on the current Resorts site, by Samuel and Susanna Hunt in 1869. They named the hotel for the Quaker family who had founded Haddonfield, New Jersey. It was sold to Leeds & Lippincott in 1890. In 1896 they rebuilt The Haddon House at a cost of $200,000, naming the new, larger hotel Haddon Hall.
Henry Leeds then bought The Chalfonte House in 1900 and constructed a modern hotel on the site, the Chalfonte Hotel. This eight-story iron-frame and brick-face $1,000,000 building, Atlantic City’s first “skyscraper”, was designed by architect Addison Hutton (1834—1916), and opened its doors to guests on July 2, 1904.
Timeline of Resorts
- The Chalfont and Haddon Hall opened across the street from each other in 1868 and 1869, respectively. Atlantic City’s first Boardwalk appeared in 1870. Shortly thereafter both hotels moved about 400 feet closer to the ocean. The lure of the Atlantic Ocean attracted visitors and workers alike to Atlantic City
- Saturday, July 2, 1904 the Leeds Company announces the opening of the ‘fireproof’ Chalfonte Hotel.
- 1929 Chalfonte-Haddon Hall undergoes major renovations including a power plant located behind the Chalfonte which plays an integral part in its progression into the future.
- Chalfonte – Haddon Hall and becomes a vital party of both New Jersey and national history when World War II progresses and Atlantic City is called up to serve the country. The beaches of Camp Boardwalk were used for maneuvers and training of armed forces. Haddon Hall was transformed into the Thomas England General Hospital.
- Thursday August 1, 1946 The Leeds and Zappincott Company announce the Haddon Hall Grand Re-Opening as a convention site and summer retreat.
- From its earliest days, Atlantic City attracted groups of people for business and pleasure. The 1950’s and 1960’s were no exception. Chalfonte-Haddon Hall worked diligently to bring conventions to its facilities, going so far as to build a brand new exhibit hall in 1965. From professional conferences of thousands, to the launch of new product lines, doing business at Chalfonte-Haddon hall was a pleasure.
- 1967, were a gallon of gas was 29 cents, minimum wage was less than a dollar an hour and it only cost 10 cents to mail a letter. An average night stay at a hotel was $15.00. Beautiful advertisements and colorful brochures led scores of visitors to get their money’s worth at the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall.
- In the 1970s, a group of American businessmen spent $11 million to renovate Chalfonte-Haddon Hall, preparing the storied property for the arrival of legalized gambling.
- May 26, 1978, with crowds of people lined up on the Boardwalk, Resorts International opened its doors for business. People waited for hours for a chance to play the 84 table games and 893 slots within the 33,735 square feet of casino space. Resorts casino floor was open from 10am and 4am, except on Saturdays, Sundays and Federal Holidays when it remained open until 6am.
- Resorts originally consisted of two hotel towers, the Ocean Tower and the Atlantic Tower. In September 2002, the 166-room Atlantic Tower was demolished making way for the new Rendezvous Tower construction.
- Recent expansion projects including the Rendezvous Tower at Resorts in July 2004, 25 Hours in July 2005, and Gallagher’s Steakhouse in 2006 continue to redefine the Resorts experience.
- Memorial Day weekend 2008, Resorts celebrates 30 years of gaming in A.C.
- 2010, Resorts Casino Hotel falls into mismanagement and is purchased by Casino Executive (and Mr. Magic) Dennis Gomes and New York real estate magnate Morris Bailey with plans to bring Resorts back to its once thriving and groundbreaking resort.
Current Haddon Hall Building
The current Haddon Hall building was constructed in stages in the 1920s. The 11-story wing facing the Boardwalk was constructed first, with the 15-story center and 11-story rear wings added later in the decade. Soon after the modern Haddon Hall was completed, it was merged by Leeds & Lippincott with the adjacent Chalfonte. The new Chalfonte-Haddon Hall complex consisted of 1,000 rooms. At the time of its completion it was the city’s largest hotel by capacity.
During World War II, under the command of Col. Robert C. McDonald, M.C., (November 27, 1943—June 30, 1944) Chalfonte-Haddon Hall was requisitioned by the US Military and put to a new use, as the Atlantic City Air Forces Training & Reception Center Hospital, renamed Thomas England General Hospital. More than 40 other local hotels were taken over by the United States Military at the same time.
The first meeting of the Section on Surgery of the American Academy of Pediatrics was held in the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall on Nov. 21, 1948.
President Nixon spoke in front of the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel on June 22, 1971.
Conversion to Resorts International
Resorts International, which was formed in March 1968, first became interested in developing a resort in Atlantic City after the company learned of a planned fourth attempt to bring casino gambling to New Jersey by limiting it to Atlantic City. The company heavily contributed to the November 1976 gaming referendum which successfully passed that year.
While campaigning for the gaming initiative, Resorts also began planning for a future Atlantic City casino by securing an option for 55 acres (220,000 m2) of land on the Atlantic City Boardwalk from the city’s Housing and Re-Development Authority as well as acquiring Leeds & Lippincott Company, which owned Chalfonte-Haddon Hall. Resorts purchased 67 percent of Leeds & Lippincott Inc. in August 1976, and completed the acquisition the following month, paying a total of $2.489 million.
Resorts International opened its doors at 10:00AM on May 26, 1978. Initial gaming laws in New Jersey only allowed casinos to operate for 18 hours during the week and 20 hours during the weekends. This situation produced massive lines outside of Resorts and people waited hours to get inside after Governor Brendan Byrne cut the ceremonial opening ribbon.
The 1904 Chalfonte Hotel building, which could not be remodeled to fit modern requirements was left vacant and finally demolished in 1980 to make room for a parking lot for Resorts International.
Towers and Attractions
Built in 1927, Ocean Tower is 260 ft (79 m) tall. The original Haddon Hall tower that reopened in 1978 contains 480 guest rooms. The tower is home to the main casino floor, spa, pool, and the main retail and dining level. The tower also contains a club reserved for qualified casino players called “Club 1133″, as well a 350-seat theater.
The 459-room Rendezvous Tower began construction in 2002 with the demolition of an existing hotel tower on the site. The Rendezvous Tower opened in 2004. The tower contains 357 luxury rooms and 42 suites. The exterior of the tower features an Art Deco design.