New York newspaperman, magazine publisher,
and multimillionaire, Frank Munsey (1854-1925) owned a number of popular
publications including Golden Argosy for children and Munsey’s
Weekly, the country’s first cheap illustrated magazine in general
circulation. It sold for ten cents an issue. Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan
serials made their first American appearances
in Munsey’s All-Story magazine. Hoping to avoid troubles with New York labor unions and reduce production costs by moving out of the metropolis, in 1895 Munsey purchased New London property at the corner of State and Meridian Streets. The following year he built the Mohican to house his presses, but the move proved problematic and within a year he transferred the publishing business back to New York. In 1898 Munsey turned the building into a hotel with shops, but the hotel business was slow and by the end of the century Munsey converted the building into a department store called Mohican Dry Goods. It was not long before the dry goods business failed and the Mohican was a hotel once again. Eventually the enterprise succeeded. A number of additions were made, including three stories and a glamorous roof garden. In its heyday the Mohican was one of the finest hotels in Connecticut. With the closing of the Crocker House, it was the only hotel in downtown New London for decades. In the 1980s the Mohican Hotel was converted for elderly housing.
Eugene O’Neill did not mention this landmark, but it was built during his youth. It represents the hope that New London had for its future, making James O’Neill’s extensive real estate speculations more understandable.
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