Monday, 3 August 2009

Hotel de Boulogne, Soho

Just to continue with yesterday's theme about French presence in Soho, here is the doorstep mosaic of the former Hotel de Boulogne.
27 Gerrard Street was built in 1783 but it was only in 1874 that a hotel opened in its walls. The street facade was 'Victorianized' that same year and one can assume this took place prior to the arrival of the first guests at the Hotel de Boulogne. The leaseholder at the time was a certain Philippe Ganosse, a Frenchman born in 1843, and who, according to the 1881 census had his residence at nearby 84 Dean Street. With such a name, I would strongly suspect he came originally from southeastern France, something that the name of the hotel clearly does not reflect! Following the death of Philippe, his English wife Kate and later on their daughter Eugenie Elise Jeannette took over the business. The Hotel de Boulogne was certainly popular enough and around 1910 the ground floor front was glazed in Art Nouveau style. However the First World War must have dealt it a serious blow. The hotel closed in 1917, only to be replaced one year later by the Restaurant de Boulogne. Documents of the 1920s and 1930s point to a growing presence of Italians interests in the building itself and the running of the restaurant. In 1962 the Restaurant de Boulogne was still occupying the premises and may have done so for another number of years. By the mid-1970s though, many of the traditional businesses of Gerrard Street were closing down and were replaced by Chinese restaurants and shops. Nowadays this is the very heart of Chinatown and the London China Town Restaurant occupies the premises of what used to be the Hotel de Boulogne.

Location: 27 Gerrard Street / Picture taken on: 14/08/2008

No comments: