In 2012, Hotel America was one of the first, if not the first, modern building to be listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places. As the NR states, “the Hotel America is significant as a well-preserved and representative example of urban renewal-era Modernist architecture as one of the few buildings of this style to be erected in downtown Hartford during this period.” Crosskey Architects collaborated with the developers to convert the hotel, now referred to as “Spectra Boutique Apartments”, into a multi-housing project consisting of 190 units with a mix of 54 studios, 123 one-bedroom, and 13 two-bedroom units with numerous luxury amenities and commercial space on the first floor.
Hotel America was part of Hartford’s first urban renewal initiative to revitalize the downtown, which resulted in part the loss of Hartford’s architectural heritage. Ironically, the loss of historic fabric and a vacant lot yielded one of Hartford’s most important modern buildings. Hotel America is a testament that modern architecture is an important marker in our architectural history and worthy of preservation.
The building should be recognized as an example of how two very different planning philosophies prevailed to create a great icon. Perhaps the greatest parody is the building, based on architectural significance, was listed to the NR at 48 years-old, two years short of meeting the fifty-year threshold, and utilized both state and federal historic tax credits. Furthermore, it is an important achievement in Hartford’s architectural and planning history, representing a shift in preservation thinking about the significance of the Brutalist style. An urban renewal pioneer in the 1960s, the building is once again part of Hartford’s revitalization.