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.
Haddon Hall Hotel
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
Ocean Tower: 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, the main retail and dining level and a 350-seat theater.
Rendezvous Tower: 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.