Bellona Hotel

Early in the Commodore’s career with Thomas Gibbons, he was captain of a steamboat named The Bellona. While the Commodore ran the boat, his wife was up to business ventures of her own. The couple purchased a New Brunswick hotel that was in ill repair and renovated it. Sophia named it Bellona Hall after the steamship her husband was running.

While browsing some of Ancestry’s historical newspapers, I decided to do some searching on the Vanderbilts and found an article from the February 10th, 1901 issue of The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana that had a sketch of the hotel. [1]

The article is not entirely legible, but it does begin by recounting some of the history of how the Commodore made his fortune. In the article, it states that the hotel was built in 1803 and at the time of the article it was being used as a tenement house. Apparently, Sophia did a great job running the hotel while it was under her command for 12 years though, as an article from the New York Times from August 4, 1901 [2] indicates that the hotel attracted so much business for the line the Commodore worked for that his salary was increased to $2,000 a year. I thought the sketch was interesting; up until now I’ve not see any images of what the building looked like. In May of 1908, the hotel was sold at auction for $15 (back taxes owed on the property) to a lawyer named Thomas H. Hagerty. [3]

Just as an FYI, that same Fort Wayne article also had a sketch of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, a great-grandson of the Commodore, which I have added to his genealogy page.

[1] The Humble Beginnings of the Great Vanderbilt Fortune. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 10 Feb 1901. [Link to]
[2] Mrs. Vanderbit Kept a Hotel. New York Times, 4 Aug 1901. [Link to article]
[3] Old Vanderbilt Hotel Sold. New York Times, 16 May 1908. [Link to article]


4 thoughts on “Bellona Hotel

  1. I saw the sketch of the Bellona Hotel–do you know that there are a couple of photos of the building, one before the addition was added and one when the building was very old and abandoned. The URL below takes you to one of them, when the building was in bad repair.

    The link below shows the original structure-don’t know the date, but it suggests that the white addition was done perhaps in the middle 1800’s, after photography because common.

  2. There’s another wrinkle to this information which I am trying to make sense of. I have strong evidence )(“proof”) that the addition to Bellona Hall was built in 1823 (and somewhere here it says the original (smaller) half was built 1803). The problem is the photo that claims to show the “original” (labeled “Original Vanderbilt Mansion”: While the photo image LOOKS like the original part (seen in later 19th or early 20th c. photos), photography simply didn’t exist before 1823 — so something does not add up here! Anyone have any ideas?
    The evidence I have for the 1823 addition (larger half) is a handwritten original “employment agreement” for the building of the addition to Bellona Hall, in a library archive… The “Vanderbilt” Hotel” was in fact Bellona Hall (not “Bellonia”) , which was leased by Cornelius and his wife Sophia….from the owner, Thomas GIbbons (who was at that time Cornelius’ employer).

    • I am just starting to look at the Bellona Hotel (Hall) to use as the topic for a local history project with my students. The photos are very strange, as the additions seem much older than the possible available time between earliest photos and the destruction of the hall. If you have any information on where you found the employment records, I would love to add it my file for students. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Where Was the Bellonia Hotel? « Vanderbilt Family Genealogy

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