Thursday, February 19, 2009
When we went to New York this summer on holiday and to do some interviews for our documentary...we had the support of The Algonquin Hotel who lent us their famous Oak Room to conduct interviews.
The Algonquin Hotel was originally designed as an apartment hotel, whose owner planned to rent rooms and suites on year-long leases. When few leases sold, the owner decided to turn it into a hotel which he was originally going to name "The Puritan." Frank Case, upon discovering that the Algonquin tribe had been the first residents of the area, convinced the owner to christen it "The Algonquin" instead
In June 1919 the hotel became the site of the daily meetings of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of journalists, authors, publicists, and actors who gathered to exchange bon mots over lunch in the main dining room. The group met almost daily for the better part of ten years. Some of the core members of the "Vicious Circle" included Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Jane Grant, Ruth Hale, George S. Kaufman, Neysa McMein, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood and Alexander Woollcott.
In the late 1930s a rather disheveled feline wandered into the hotel searching for food and shelter. Ever the quintessential host, owner Frank Case welcomed the furry traveler into the Algonquin and a tradition was born.
Matilda, the current resident, is very popular with our guests. She has the run of the house (except in dining areas and kitchen) but prefers to oversee the comings and goings of the many guests who cross her threshold.
Matilda receives mail weekly from friends around the world and has been the subject of countless stories. On one occasion, when her collar was stolen, the "Algonquin Cat-Burglary" was the talk of the town.
Each year Matilda is given a birthday party, as befits a New York celebrity. A memorable one occurred in 2002 when, while celebrating her seventh birthday with 150 of her closest friends, she jumped on her cake and ran out of the room, leaving a trail of paw prints.