contemporary color palette

Wm. Mulherin’s Sons: Hotelier’s for life

The building’s notably restored elements — the terra-cotta exterior signs, arched windows, vestibule, interior millwork, and safe — have been melded with design features and fixtures from local makers that reflect the building’s original era, creating a setting that feels both cozy and convivial.

The predominant story and history of Wm. Mulherin’s Sons is synonymous with Fishtown in Philadelphia, an area largely founded by the influx of Polish, German and Irish immigrants whose working class roots have defined the area for over two centuries.

And like the location, the story of William Mulherin reads like a romantic 19th century drama, when many an Irish lad fled his native land on the back of the worst potato famine in the country’s history; lasting for up to five years some 1.5 million Irish men and women made their way to America; it was leave or perish and many did perish – over a million in fact.

In 1848 at the age of fifteen, invested with both the pioneering spirit and the determination to make good, the story of this Irish lad in America begins:

…William Mulherin charts the history of a man whose…life as an entrepreneur, whiskey baron and pillar of his community creates as many questions as it does answers

By 1869 William had settled in Philadelphia and married Mary, they had six sons.  Meanwhile William is apprenticed to Irish whiskey makers in the town providing the foundation stone for the WM. Mulherin & Sons establishment in 1899, subsequently experimenting with and producing whiskey blends.  Ultimately, Winner Whiskey was born in 1904. Ask for a Winner Whiskey, the confident jaunty slogan!

On the back of the Temperance movement’s powerful influence Prohibition came into force in1920 and ended in 1933, when FD Roosevelt finally rescinded it. However, that period of time (amongst other things) spelled the end for the first iteration of Wm. Mulherin & Sons.

Jump forward to 2014 when it was decided to honour the singular history, character and contribution of William Mulherin’s hotel by restoring the impressive 19th century building on the corner of N Front and Master streets, thus, Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, Restaurant and Hotel was born.

The recent incarnation encompasses bar, restaurant and accommodation. Available for short or long term stays, each of the rooms has a kitchenette, full lounge facilities and plenty of added extras.

The modest four rooms allows the hotel to significantly improve upon assumptions, ensuring visitors can indulge a one-off singular experience.

During their stay clients can tap into the history and life of Mulherin the innovative entrepreneur who took advantage of every opportunity under difficult circumstances.

It is possible to glimpse these strengths in the building itself, for instance many of the 19th century period features remain extant, enabling visitors to appreciate their stay on multiple levels: historically, culturally and practically. 

Lying in bed in the quiet early morning, the old walls tell their maker’s story in the individual bricks and mortar: likewise the floor, ceiling and wallpaper; one can almost hear the swishing of maids dresses in the hall and the horse and buggy’s passing in the street below.

Those who built the original hotel likely lived nearby in Fishtown, whose name is thought to have derived from Kensington’s shad fisheries on the Delaware and the working class they employed, folks who raised families in the small houses in a neighborhood defined by a triangle of the Delaware River…

Apart from the diverse experiences Wm. Mulherin’s Sons has to offer it is the sense and spirit of the American way of life that comes as part of the package which makes traveller’s stay a rare authentic experience: the values and lifestyle the Irish businessman subscribed to are evident in every glance and every moment.

Surrounded by a simplistic old-world color palette and whimsical wallpaper by Stacey Rozich, each room features a few relics from the buildings past….from a pulley system used for winching heavy loads to a gorgeous claw foot bathtub…

The attention to detail in the building and the design collaborations under taken by the hoteliers represent the pinnacle of high standards; the range and quality speaks to the level of dedication visitors can expect.

As distinct from the more obvious bar and restaurant, guests can enjoy tailored (and layered) realities in the laundry service, leafy greenery, hand-made porcelain, coffee makers, and personalised stationary to name just a few.  The incomparable largess designed to offer an unprecedented event, ensuring visitors to the hotel have everything at their fingertips to make the stay pleasurable and memorable.

It is about feeling pampered in a soft casual manner on one hand and making sure that all clients can individually identify with the range of bespoke elements on the other: to anything from the artworks and furniture; coffee machine and cocktail kit; cookware or tiles.

Irrespective, the level of pampering makes people feel valued and special, and importantly, to feel at home in a way delightfully distinct from their everyday life.

By checking into the Wm. Mulherin’s Sons, visitors are not merely looking for a bed to occupy overnight: they are seeking to add to their vacation (or business) adventure.

It is an adventure that makes their stay in Philadelphia that much more fulfilling and exciting.  One that exceeds all expectations.

Wm. Mulherin’s Sons

Photographer: Matthew Williams

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