Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 246: Hotel History: Hotel McAlpin, New York, N.Y.

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 246: Hotel History: Hotel McAlpin, New York, N.Y. (1912)

Stanley Turkel | March 30, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Hotel McAlpin (1,500 rooms)

The Hotel McAlpin was constructed in 1912 by General Edwin A. McAlpin, son of David Hunter McAlpin. As well as being the world’s largest hotel, it was also one of the most luxurious. The amenities were as breathtaking as they were opulent including a massive Turkish bath and plunge pool on the 24th floor. The hotel also had its own in-house orchestra, as well as its own fully-equipped hospital.

When construction of the Hotel McAlpin neared completion by the end of 1912 as the largest hotel in the world, The New York Times commented that it was so tall at twenty-five stories that it “seems isolated from other buildings.” Boasting a staff of 1,500, the hotel could accommodate 2,500 guests. It was built at a cost of $13.5 million ($358 million today). The hotel was designed by noted architect Frank Mills Andrews whose design included two gender-specific floors: women checking into the hotel could reserve a room on the women’s-only floor, bypass the lobby and check in directly on their own floor. Another floor, dubbed the “sleepy sixteenth”, was designed for night workers which was kept quiet during the day. The hotel also had its own travel agency.

The McAlpin underwent an expansion half a decade later. The owners had purchased an additional fifty feet of frontage on Thirty-Fourth Street two years early. The new addition was the same height as the original twenty-five story building, and provided an additional two hundred rooms, four more elevators, and a large ballroom. A major refurbishment costing $2.1 million was completed in 1928 refreshing all the rooms, installing modern bathrooms and updating the elevators.

The McAlpin family sold the hotel in 1938 to Jamlee Hotels, headed by Joseph Levy, president of Crawford Clothes, a prominent real estate investor in New York for $5,400,000. Jamlee reportedly invested an additional $1,760,000 in renovations. During the Jamlee ownership, the hotel was managed by the Knott Hotel Company until 1952 when management was taken over by the Tisch Hotel Company. On October 15, 1954, Jamlee sold the hotel to the Sheraton Hotel Corporation for $9,000,000 and it was renamed the Sheraton-McAlpin. Sheraton completely renovated the hotel five years later and renamed it the Sheraton-Atlantic Hotel on October 8, 1959. Sheraton sold the hotel to the investing partnership of Sol Goldman and Alexander DiLorenzo on July 28, 1968 for $7.5 million and it reverted to the Hotel McAlpin name. Sheraton briefly reacquired the hotel in 1976, through a default by the buyers, and quickly sold it to developer William Zeckendorf, Jr. who converted the McAlpin to 700 rental apartments and named it the Herald Square Apartments.

On Christmas Eve 1916, Harry K. Thaw, former husband of Evelyn Nesbit and the murderer of architect Stanford White, attacked 19-year-old Fred Gump, Jr., in a large suite on the 18th Floor. Thaw had enticed Gump to New York with a promise of a job but instead sexually assaulted him and beat him repeatedly with a stocky whip until he was covered in blood. According to the New York Times, Thaw had rented two rooms on either side of his suite to muffle the screams. The next day, Thaw’s bodyguard took Gump to the aquarium and zoo before the boy managed to escape. Gump’s father sued Thaw for $650,000 for the “gross indignities” that his son suffered. The case was eventually settled out of court.

In 1920, The McAlpin Hotel hosted what may have been the first broadcast from a New York hotel. The Army Signal Corps arranged the broadcast by singer Luisa Tetrazzini from her room in the hotel. Tetrazzini (1871-1940) was an Italian lyric coloratura soprano who had an enormous popularity in America from the 1900s-1920s. In 1922, the McAlpin became one of the first hotels to link ship-to-shore radios with their phone system. The hotel would later be the first to give the call letters of radio station WMCA in 1925.

In 1947, Jackie Robinson, a resident living on the 11th floor, received the phone call from the Brooklyn Dodgers that would change America forever by becoming the first African American player on a Major League Baseball team.

The hotel’s Marine Grill was considered one of the more unusual interiors in the city of New York due to “an expansive grotto of exquisite polychrome terra cotta designed by artist Frederick Dana Marsh.” In the 1970s, the building owner had closed the restaurant and historic preservationists were concerned with the future of the artwork. Their worst fears were realized when Susan Tunick, president of the non-profit Friends of Terra Cotta, saw dumpsters outside the hotel filled with fragments from the murals. Rescue efforts were eventually successful when the murals were reassembled under the oversight of the MTA Arts for Transit Program and they were reassembled piece by piece like a giant jigsaw puzzle over one summer by a group of college interns. In 2000, the restored murals were installed at the Fulton Street Station, along with the ornate iron gate that had adorned the entrance to the Marine Grill.

In the late 1970s, the building was converted to 700 rental apartments and in 2001 to condominiums. It now operates under the name Herald Towers.

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

All of the following books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf 2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand (2020)

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.86

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2020 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He had previously been so designated in 2015 and 2014.

This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion of greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 245: Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, Kentucky

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 245: Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, Kentucky (1855)

Stanley Turkel | March 09, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Boone Tavern Hotel (63 rooms)

Built on the old Dixie Highway and named after Kentucky explorer Daniel Boone, the historic Boone Tavern Hotel is located on College Square in Berea, Kentucky. The hotel is owned by Berea College and operated with student workers from the College Labor Program. Students earn money for books, room and board but pay no tuition (valued at $25,500 per year), thanks to the generosity of donors who support Berea College’s mission of providing a free high quality education for students primarily from Appalachia who have high academic potential and limited financial resources.

Berea College was founded in 1855 by abolitionists John Gregg Fee and Cassius Marcellus Clay* as a liberal arts work college which charges no tuition. Berea was the first college in the southern United States to be coeducational and racially integrated. It has a full-participation work-study program where students are required to work at least 10 hours per week in campus and service jobs in over 130 departments.

In 1866, Berea’s first full year after the Civil War, it registered 187 students (96 African Americans and 91 whites) who took preparatory study classes to ready them for college-level courses. In 1869, the first college students were admitted and the first bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 1873.

The greatest heavyweight boxer of all time, Muhammed Ali was also born Cassius Marcellus Clay. His father Marcellus Clay, a sign painter named his son for the white Kentucky anti-slavery crusader. Cassius Marcellus Clay (1810-1903), a white abolitionist who was Kentucky’s greatest anti-slavery crusader and one of the founders of Berea College.

In 1904, the Kentucky state legislature’s passage of the “Day Law” disrupted Berea’s interracial education by prohibiting education of black and white students together. The college challenged the law in state court and further appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in Berea College v. Kentucky. When the college failed, the college had to become a segregated school, but it set aside funds to help establish the Lincoln Institute near Louisville to educate black students. In 1925, famed advertiser Bruce Barton, a future congressman, sent a letter to 24 wealthy men in America to raise funds for the college. Every single letter was returned with a minimum of $1,000 in donations. In 1950, when the law was amended to allow integration of schools at the college level, Berea promptly resumed its integrated policies.

Boone Tavern Hotel features 63 guestrooms furnished with hand-made early American furniture made by Berea students in the College woodcraft shop. The Boone Tavern Restaurant is so well known for its long-standing tradition of excellent food that in 2003 it received the Duncan Hines Excellence in Hospitality Award. The Tavern’s spoonbread, a corn meal-based concoction, is so beloved, that the city holds an annual Spoon bread Festival.

In order to support its extensive scholarship program, Berea College has one of the largest financial reserves of any American college when measured on a per-student basis. The endowment stands at $950 million, down from its 2007 height of $1.1 billion. The base of Berea College’s finances is dependent on substantial contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations that support the mission of the college and donations from alumni. A solid investment strategy increased the endowment from $150 million in 1985 to its current amount.

In 2010, the Boone Tavern Hotel was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council making it the first LEED certified hotel in Kentucky. The Boone Tavern Hotel is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Before the Civil War, Cassius Marcellus Clay wrote “For better or worse, the black people are among us… We must educate them, for one day they will be part of our governing society.”

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

All of the following books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)

  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand (2020)

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2020 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He had previously been so designated in 2015 and 2014.
This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion of greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History. Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

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Heroes of the American Reconstruction webinar invitation

Heroes of the American Reconstruction

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Join us for a fascinating conversation

about the post-Civil War Reconstruction period

as we highlight and celebrate stories of

some of its forgotten and unsung heroes 

featuring

Stanley Turkel

2020 Historian of the Year

Author, Heroes of the American Reconstruction

Saturday, February 27 at 10:00 AM (EST)

* Advanced registration is required and space is limited *

Upon successful registration, you will receive a confirmation email with link to join the webinar

Click Here to Register for our Webinar Now

moderated by

Jacques E. Boubli

This event is expected to last about one hour.

In celebration of Black History Month, this webinar recognizes and honors some fascinating individuals whose post-Civil War efforts should not be overlooked.

Stanley Turkel was named 2020 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He is a well-known consultant in the hotel industry, and his work continues to encourage a wide discussion and a greater understanding of and enthusiasm for American History.

Jacques E. Boubli, CFP is an Investment Advisor with The Portfolio Strategy Group in White Plains, New York.

Jacques E. Boubli, CFP® | VP, Investment Advisor

(914) 288-4900 | jboubli@thepsg.com | portfoliostrategygroup.com | vcard

The Portfolio Strategy Group

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormely Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormley Hotel

Stanley Turkel | February 16, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Wormley Hotel (150 rooms)

James Wormley, a pioneering Black nineteenth-century businessman opened the first integrated hotel in Washington, D.C..  He was also known for his business acumen and lobbying efforts to secure adequate funding for the first Washington, D.C. public schools for black Americans.

Wormley was born to Pere Leigh and Mary Wormley. Both parents had lived as free people and servants with a wealthy Virginia family prior to moving to Washington, D.C. in 1814. On January 16, 1819, while living in a small, two-room, brick building located on E Street, near Fourteenth Street, northwest, James was born. His father owned and managed a hackney carriage business, which he purchased for $175. Being located in the hotel section of Washington on Pennsylvania Avenue allowed his business to flourish. James, the eldest of five children, acquired his first job there. James began driving his own hack, learned skills and values, and won the confidence and trust of his patrons, which allowed him to monopolize the trade of the capital’s two leading hotels, the National and Willard. Many of his patrons, some of the most wealthy and influential citizens of Washington, became lifelong mentors and benefactors.

In 1841, Wormley married Anna Thompson of Norfolk, Virginia. From this union three sons and a daughter were born: William H. A., James Thompson, Garret Smith, and Anna M. Cole. His second son, James Thompson, became the first graduate of the School of Pharmacy at Howard University. In 1849, at the age of 30, Wormley went to California to prospect gold and subsequently served as steward on Mississippi River steamboat and various naval vessels. After returning to Washington, Wormley contacted some of his friends and used his new skills to become a steward at the elite Metropolitan Club in Washington, D.C. Unlike his father, he had acquired the rudiments of an education at the community schools and had become confident about his business talents and contacts. As a result, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War he accumulated enough capital and support to open a catering business on I Street near Fifteenth, next door to his wife’s candy store.

In 1868, Maryland Senator Reverdy Johnson was appointed minister to England. He had heard of Wormley’s reputation as a caterer and decided to offer him a position as his personal caterer. Even though he had a wife and four children, Wormley accepted the offer, and moved to a more spacious location near the White House. At this location, with the aid of U.S. Representative Samuel J. Hooper, the silent partner and nominal owner, Wormley opened an elegant hotel which became known as the Wormley Hotel. The older property on I Street was used as an annex to the hotel. The five-story building boasted 150 rooms, including a bar, a barbershop, and a world-renowned dining room noted for its cuisine. It was also renowned for its well-managed rooms and became the first hotel in Washington, D.C. to have an elevator and a telephone connected to the city’s first switchboard. For more than two decades the hotel was the meeting place for black and white elites as well as distinguished foreigners.

It was said that Wormley’s hotel was primarily for the wealthy and powerful white males in the capital but Wormley’s granddaughter, Imogene indicated that people of color were guests at the hotel. One person in particular was the Haitian minister and noted African scholar. Edward Wilmot Blyden. Other distinguished guests, friends, and allies included George Riggs, a banker, William Wilson Corcoran, philanthropist and financier, and U.S. Senator Charles Sumner, a frequent visitor to the Wormley Hotel.

With Wormley’s help, Sumner, a Massachusetts Republican and an abolitionist, persuaded Congress to provide legislation for funding the first public schools in Washington, D.C. for black Americans. As a result of these efforts, in 1885, a school known as the Wormley Elementary School for the Colored was built in Georgetown at Thirty-fourth and Prospect Streets. The school, the last physical monument attesting to Wormley’s life and time, remained an all black school until 1952. Subsequently, it was used as a vocational training center for special needs students. The building was condemned in 1994 and was purchased in 1997 by Georgetown University with the intent of housing its graduate policy program. Unfortunately, the university later decided to sell the property.

Wormley continued to operate his hotel and expanded his properties. In the 1870s and 1880s, Wormley and his eldest son, William, owned two country houses on what was then called Peirce Mill Road near Fort Reno in upper northwest Washington, D.C.

In the aftermath of November 2021 U.S. presidential election, scholars, jurists and civil rights activists have dredged history for insights, guidance and possibly justifications. Inevitably, the presidential election of 1876 comes up.

The outlines of this election are well-known to history buffs, but even they may be unaware of the central role a black entrepreneur and his elegant Washington hotel played in the drama. The 1876 contest, which pitted Republican Rutherford B. Hayes against Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, was too close for an easy call. The result was a months-long stalemate.

In order to declare a winner, Congress finally created an electoral commission to oversee the vote count in the disputed states of Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida. The three southern states all had carpetbagger governments and remained occupied by federal troops as part of Reconstruction.

The commission, in a decision that was widely considered tainted, tilted the election to Hayes, who had lost the popular vote but, thanks to the commission’s work, won the Electoral College by one vote, 185 to 184, and with it the presidency.

The nation reacted by moving to the edge of anarchy. Washington was awash in rumor and veiled threats of violence from the Democrats. A “bloody shirt” editorial in a leading Republic newspaper warned that any violence from the Democrats would be met with violence. Tilden urged a filibuster, which could have run out the clock in the waning days of the Grant administration.

A nervous country remembered the 1874 Battle of Liberty Place in New Orleans, during which black federal troops were employed in an effort to quell a white supremacist mob intent on overthrowing the state’s carpetbagger regime. The political fallout of that bloody confrontation put the Democrats in control of the House, signaling the coming end of radical Reconstruction and the start of Jim Crow government. Both parties feared that the volatile atmosphere in Washington could have a similarly destabilizing effect on the country. Emissaries both the Hayes and Tilden camps decided to meet privately at the Wormley Hotel to strike a bargain about the election. It was renowned for its well-managed rooms and world-class cuisine, and boasted not only an elevator but also one of the capital’s first telephones.

Although neither Tilden nor Hayes was present at the Wormley meetings, both were kept posted by telegram. A “secret deal,” later known as the Compromise of 1877, was struck on Monday, Feb. 26, 1877, only days before the end of the Grant administration. The agreement paved the way for an end of Reconstruction, because Haye’s negotiators provided written assurances to the former Confederate states that in return for conceding the election, U.S federal troops would be withdrawn and that these states would be given back the right “to control their own affairs.”

Two days after that fateful Wormley meeting, the tide shifted, as House Speaker Samuel J. Randall (D-Pa.) reversed himself, blocked the filibusterers, allowing the Hayes forces to reign supreme. He was proclaimed the winner of March 2 at 4:10 A.M. and was quietly sworn in at the White House that same morning.

As the election crisis subsided, President Hayes ordered U.S. troops withdrawn from the South. But he was soon disillusioned by the devastating effect this decision had on allowing former Confederate Army soldiers to regain political power for the next 130 years. He left office after one term and afterward devoted much of his energy and resources to black education.

Wormley continued to operate his hotel, which remained a favorite residence for a cosmopolitan clientele. He expanded his properties, secured a patent on a boat-safety device and fought for better education for black children. He was 65 when he died after a kidney stone operation in Boston on October 18, 1884. A year later the Wormley School in Georgetown was erected in his honor.

It is unknown whether James Wormley ever commented on how the “bargain” consummated in his hotel resulted in a betrayal for black Americans, but he continued to battle the tide of segregation and left a strong foundation of family values.

The hotel hosted famous guests, including Frederick Douglass, African American Congressman John Mercer Langston, and Thomas Edison. Wormley was also the private confidant and host to some of the most famous individuals of the nineteenth century: Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Vice President Henry Wilson, and Presidents Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield.

James Wormley died in Boston, Massachusetts, after a surgical procedure on October 18, 1884. Wormley House continued to operate until its sale in 1893.

2020 Historian of the Year

I am pleased to report that I received the 2020 Historian of the Year Award by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Historic Hotels of America Historian of the Year Award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion of greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand (2020)

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.56

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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hotel historynobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkelWormley Hotel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 243: Hotel History: Hotel Roanoke, VirginiaNobody Asked Me, But… No. 242: Hotel History: Fisher Island, Miami, FloridaStanley Turkel Named the Recipient of the 2020 Historic Hotels of America Historian of the Year AwardNobody Asked Me, But… No. 241: Hotel History: Menger HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 240 Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (1893)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: The Algonquin Hotel, NY (1902)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 238: Hotel History: The Fairmont Hotel in San FranciscoNobody Asked Me, But… No. 237: Hotel History: Hotel Allegro, Chicago, IllinoisNobody Asked Me, But… No. 236: Hotel History: The Hermitage HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 235: Hotel History: Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate (1901)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 234: Curt R. Strand, President, Hilton InternationalNobody Asked Me, But… No. 233: Hotel History: The Adolphus HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 232: Hotel History: Union Station HotelNobody Asked Me But… No. 231: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, ColoradoNobody Asked Me, But… No. 230: Hotel History: Four Seasons HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: Admiral Fell InnNobody Asked Me, But… No. 228: The Barbizon Hotel, New YorkNobody Asked Me, But… No. 227: Hotel History: The Carlyle Hotel, New York (1929)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 226 Hotel History: Peninsula Hotel, New York

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 243: Hotel History: Hotel Roanoke, Va

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 243: Hotel History: Hotel Roanoke, Virginia

Stanley Turkel | January 26, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke, Va (332 rooms)

Roanoke was a little town named Big Lick when enterprising railroad magnate Frederick J. Kimball chose it as the site of a major railroad juncture. After Kimball combined two of his railroads into the Norfolk and Western Railroad, he built a comprehensive community with the Hotel Roanoke as its grand centerpiece.

Built in a wheat field on a little hill, the Hotel Roanoke began as a rambling wooden structure of less than three dozen rooms. As the city grew, the railroad consistently provided resources for hotel additions, remodeling and furnishings to maintain the hotel’s reputation for excellence. Even in the Depression year of 1931, the railroad spent $225,000 for a new addition with 75 rooms, a 60-car garage and such “modern” amenities as circulating ice water, movable telephones and electric fans. By then, the hotel’s Queen Anne appearance had evolved into something Tudorean, the finishing touches of which were added in the major alterations of 1937-38, when the Hotel Roanoke acquired its distinctive Tudor facade and entrance. Additional new wings were added in 1947 and 1955.

In 1989, Norfolk Southern Corporation, direct descendent of Kimball’s Norfolk and Western Railroad, concluding that its transportation business meant rail service, not room service, closed the hotel it had owned and operated for 107 years and gave it to the Virginia Tech Real Estate Foundation.

In 1992, the “Renew Roanoke” campaign was launched to raise enough money to reopen the hotel. Virginia Tech set a deadline of December 31, 1992 to raise enough money to own and operate the hotel. By late fall, the campaign was still short $1,000,000. In an unprecedented Christmas-time fundraiser, the campaign succeeded in raising $5,000,000. Norfolk Southern then donated an additional $2,000,000, 30 times what it received for the hotel.

After being closed for four years, the Hotel Roanoke began a multi-million dollar restoration and renovation project, funded by a package of public and private financing in conjunction with the City of Roanoke and Virginia Tech.

Re-opening in April of 1995, Hotel Roanoke carefully preserved the past with features such as an antique-filled lobby, original Czech-made chandeliers, a restored Regency Room (home of the famous Peanut Soup), Pine Room (formerly an Officers’ Club in World War II), and the Palm Court, the original ceiling of which was painted to show the constellations as they appeared in the skies on the day the first train came to Roanoke in 1852. Simultaneously, the Hotel Roanoke embraced the future by building a 63,000 square-foot meeting space, featuring state-of-the-art technology and accommodating more than 1,200 people, evolving into the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.

A pedestrian bridge was also constructed over Norfolk Southern’s railroad tracks to link the hotel and conference center to downtown Roanoke near the Wachovia Tower. Roanoke’s landmark former passenger rail station across the street from the hotel was converted into a museum as well as housing the Roanoke Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Over its 131-year history, the Hotel Roanoke has hosted the following famous guests:

·        Dwight Eisenhower·        Mahalia Jackson
·        Richard Nixon·        Aerosmith
·        Gerald Ford·        Hilary Duff
·        Jimmy Carter·        Jerry Seinfeld
·        George H. W. Bush·        Henry Ford
·        Douglas MacArthur·        Thomas Edison
·        Dwight Eisenhower·        Harvey Firestone

The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center is operated under the Curio Collection by Hilton brand.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

2020 Historian of the Year

I am pleased to report that I received the 2020 Historian of the Year Award by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Historic Hotels of America Historian of the Year Award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion of greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand (2020)

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 242: Hotel History: Fisher Island, Miami, Florida

Stanley Turkel Named the Recipient of the 2020 Historic Hotels of America Historian of the Year Award

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 241: Hotel History: Menger Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 240 Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (1893)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: The Algonquin Hotel, NY (1902)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 238: Hotel History: The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 237: Hotel History: Hotel Allegro, Chicago, Illinois

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 235: Hotel History: Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate (1901)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 234: Curt R. Strand, President, Hilton International

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 233: Hotel History: The Adolphus Hotel

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Nobody Asked Me But… No. 231: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: Admiral Fell Inn

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 228: The Barbizon Hotel, New York

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 227: Hotel History: The Carlyle Hotel, New York (1929)

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 242: Hotel History: Fisher Island, Miami, Florida

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 242: Hotel History: Fisher Island, Miami, Florida

Stanley Turkel | January 05, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Fisher Island, Miami, Florida

Fisher Island is in Miami-Dade County, Florida, located on a barrier island of the same name. As of 2015, Fisher Island had the highest per capita income of any place in the United States. The CDP had only 218 households and a total population of 467.

Named for automotive parts pioneer and beach real estate developer Carl G. Fisher, who once owned it, Fisher Island is three miles offshore of mainland South Florida. No road or causeway connects to the island, which is accessible by private boat, helicopter, or ferry. Once a one-family island home of the Vanderbilts, and later several other millionaires, it was sold for development in the 1960s. The property sat vacant for well over 15 years before development began for very limited and restrictive multi-family use.

Fisher Island was separated from the barrier island which became Miami Beach in 1905, when Government Cut was dredged across the southern end of the island to make a shipping channel from Miami to Atlantic Ocean. Construction of Fisher Island began in 1919 when Carl G. Fisher, a land developer, purchased the property from the Black real estate developer Dana A. Dorsey, southern Florida’s first African-American millionaire. In 1925, William Vanderbilt II traded a luxury yacht to Fisher for ownership of the island.

Despite Fisher’s extraordinary accomplishments, however, no beach, no highway, no hotels, and no race track is named for Carl Graham Fisher. Only Fisher Island bears his name.

Most of the laborers in Fisher’s workforce were Blacks from southern states, from the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands. The center of the South Florida black community was Colored Town which was created in 1896 in northwest Miami. Blacks were denied equal housing, business opportunities, voting rights and the use of the beaches. But one black construction laborer who worked as a carpenter for Florida’s East Coast Railroad recognized the need to provide housing for black workers. Dana Albert Dorsey was the son of former slaves whose formal education stopped at fourth grade. After moving to Miami, Dorsey engaged in truck farming but soon began to invest in real estate. He purchased lots for $25 each in Colored Town and constructed one rental house per parcel. He built many of the so-called shotgun houses and rented them out, but never sold any.

According to his daughter Dana Dorsey Chapman, in a 1990 interview, her father’s excellent penmanship was the product of his early formal education at the Freedman’s Bureau during Reconstruction. Dorsey’s business expanded as far north as Fort Lauderdale. He donated land to the Dade County Public Schools on which the Dorsey High School was built in 1936 in Liberty City. In 1970, its purpose was changed to meet the needs of the adults in the community by becoming the D.A. Dorsey Educational Center. In Overtown (formerly Colored Town), the Dorsey Memorial Library which opened on August 13, 1941, as built on land he donated shortly before his death in 1940. That building was renovated and restored under the direction of my late brother, Leonard Turkel, a Miami philanthropist and businessman. The first black-owned hotel in Florida was the Dorsey Hotel in Overtown. The hotel placed advertisements in black and white newspapers and was constantly upgraded by Dorsey, including adding hot and cold running water. Marvin Dunn in his book, Black Miami in the Twentieth Century reports that,

The Dorsey house was always filled with important dinner guests. Some of the white millionaires who visited were awed by Dorsey’s accomplishments, achieved under difficult circumstances. Some even went to him for financial help. According to his daughter, during the Depression, Dorsey lent money to William M. Burdine to keep his store open. When Dorsey died in 1940 flags were lowered to half-staff all over Miami.

In 1918, Dorsey purchased a 216-acre island sliced from the tip of Miami in 1905 when the government dredged out a sea-lane from Biscayne Bay. His intention was to create a beach resort for blacks because they were forbidden to use all other public beaches. When his efforts were rebuffed by the blatant racism of the time, he sold the island in 1919 to Carl Graham Fisher who named it Fisher Island. It is now one of the wealthiest enclaves in South Florida.

After Vanderbilt’s death in 1944, ownership of the island passed to U.S. Steel heir Edward Moore. Moore died in the early 1950s, and Gar Wood, the millionaire inventor of hydraulic construction equipment, bought it. Wood, a speedboat enthusiast, kept the island a one-family retreat. In 1963, Wood sold to a development group that included local Key Biscayne millionaire Bebe Rebozo, Miami native and United States Senator George Smathers and then former U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, who had promised to leave politics. During his subsequent presidency from 1968-1973, and during the Watergate scandal, Nixon maintained a home on nearby Key Biscayne known as the “Key Biscayne Whitehouse” that was the former residence of Senator Smathers and next door to Rebozo, but none of the three ever resided on Fisher Island.

After years of legal battles and changes in ownership, further development on the island was finally started in the 1980s, with architecture matching the original 1920s Spanish style mansions. Although no longer a one-family island, Fisher Island still remains somewhat inaccessible to the public and uninvited guests, and is as exclusive by modern standards as it was in the days of the Vanderbilts, providing similar refuge and retreat for its wealthy residents. The island contains mansions, a hotel, several apartment buildings, an observatory, and a private marina. Boris Becker, Oprah Winfrey, and Mel Brooks are among the celebrities with homes on the island.

The Fisher Island Club is made up of 216 acres and approximately 800 residences representing over 40 countries. Accessible only by ferryboat or private yacht, Fisher Island is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S. The private membership-only club boasts a Beach Club with one of the country’s only truly private beaches; a 15-room all suite luxury hotel; a 9-hole, award-winning P.B. Dye championship golf course; 17 tennis courts featuring all four “Grand Slam” surfaces plus 4 pickleball courts, two deep-water marinas; a variety of casual and formal dining venues; a full-service spa, salon and fitness center; the Vanderbilt Theater; an aviary with over a dozen exotic birds; and an observatory for stargazing.

Fisher Island Club Hotel & Resort, a member of Leading Hotels of the World, is a boutique property comprised of a collection of just 15 graciously-appointed historic and reimagined cottages, villas and guesthouse suites that surround the now iconic limestone and marble Vanderbilt Mansion – mere steps from the beach, pool, spa, restaurants and marina. In April 2018, Bloomberg reported that the average income for Fisher Island was $2.5 million in 2015, making Fisher Island’s zip code the wealthiest in the United States.

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand (2020)

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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RELATED NEWS:

Stanley Turkel Named the Recipient of the 2020 Historic Hotels of America Historian of the Year AwardNobody Asked Me, But… No. 241: Hotel History: Menger HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 240 Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (1893)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: The Algonquin Hotel, NY (1902)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 238: Hotel History: The Fairmont Hotel in San FranciscoNobody Asked Me, But… No. 237: Hotel History: Hotel Allegro, Chicago, IllinoisNobody Asked Me, But… No. 236: Hotel History: The Hermitage HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 235: Hotel History: Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate (1901)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 234: Curt R. Strand, President, Hilton InternationalNobody Asked Me, But… No. 233: Hotel History: The Adolphus HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 232: Hotel History: Union Station HotelNobody Asked Me But… No. 231: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, ColoradoNobody Asked Me, But… No. 230: Hotel History: Four Seasons HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: Admiral Fell InnNobody Asked Me, But… No. 228: The Barbizon Hotel, New YorkNobody Asked Me, But… No. 227: Hotel History: The Carlyle Hotel, New York (1929)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 226 Hotel History: Peninsula Hotel, New YorkNobody Asked Me, But… No. 225: Hotel History: The Grand Hotel, Point Clear, AlabamaNobody Asked Me, But… No. 224: Hotel History: The Red Lion InnNobody Asked Me, But… No. 223: Hotel History: The Wales Hotel (1902)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 241: Hotel History: Menger Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 241: Hotel History: Menger Hotel

| December 15, 2020

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Menger Hotel (316 rooms)

The Menger Hotel, one of the most iconic and historically significant buildings in San Antonio, was constructed on Alamo Plaza in 1859 by German immigrants Mary and William Menger. Mary arrived in San Antonio in 1846 and when her husband died soon after her arrival, she opened a boarding house. The building provided studio space for renowned sculptor Gutzor Borglum, most famous for his work at Mt. Rushmore. After William Menger opened the Menger Brewery in 1855, he married Mary and the success of the Brewery operation led to the construction of the Menger Hotel.

The original two-story, 50-room structure was designed by San Antonio’s first prominent architect, John M. Fries who was responsible for the original City Market House and Casino Hall, both since demolished. He is also credited with repairing the Alamo in 1850 and saving it from destruction. Menger commissioned a three-story, 40-room addition in 1859 between the hotel and the brewery.

The San Antonio Herald on January 18, 1859, reported on the hotel project:

“The Menger Hotel is rapidly drawing towards completion. The main room on the second floor is unsurpassed for beauty. The finishing of the walls and ceilings being developed and executed by our fellow citizen P.C. Taylor. The walls and ceilings unite the smoothness of glass to the whiteness of alabaster, whilst the mouldings are conceived in fine taste and executed in the best style of art.”

Mr. Menger ran the following ad in local newspapers:

Menger Hotel
Alamo plaza           San Antonio

The undersigned has with great care and expense built and fitted out a large & commodious hotel on Alamo Square which [will] be opened on the 1st of February 1859.

He flatters himself that his establishment will be large and well ventilated stable, which will at times be kept supplied with the best provender, and attended to by experienced hostlers.

W.A. Menger

During four years of the Civil War, the hotel housed many Confederate Army soldiers including Sam Houston and Robert E. Lee. It provided food service in order to feed the officers and soldiers. The hotel also offered hospital beds and nursing services for medical care of wounded soldiers.

After William Menger died at the age of forty-four years in 1871, Mary and her son Louis William continued to operate the brewery and the hotel. In 1877, newly-built railroad service to San Antonio contributed to the growing success of the Menger. The hotel offered a unique mail chute on each floor that allowed guests to simply drop mail into the chute which would then be collected, taken to the post office and delivered to the address on the envelope. Talk about progress!

For many years, another popular draw to the hotel was the cuisine offered by Mary Menger herself. Mary had long been preparing meals for her guests at her boarding house and she felt doing so at the Menger Hotel would strengthen its appeal. The Mengers purchased the best beef, chicken, fresh country butter and eggs the markets had to offer. They also prided themselves on providing their guests with the finest delicacies of the time. The Mengers also sent out a wagon with benches that would drive around downtown San Antonio picking up businessmen in order to take them to the hotel to dine on the delicious fare. Mary made up the menu for her guests, which included a selection of soups, beef, pasta, veal, and a variety of tasty desserts. All of this would be served in one sitting and every person left the dining room feeling quite satisfied. Mary was also known for throwing lavish dinner parties for celebrity guests that only further proved her culinary excellence. Many of Mary’s recipes are still offered today in the hotel’s Colonial Dining Room.

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has just been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

Categories

Instagram

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hotel historymenger hotelnobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkelthe menger hotel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 240 Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (1893)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: The Algonquin Hotel, NY (1902)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 238: Hotel History: The Fairmont Hotel in San FranciscoNobody Asked Me, But… No. 237: Hotel History: Hotel Allegro, Chicago, IllinoisNobody Asked Me, But… No. 236: Hotel History: The Hermitage HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 235: Hotel History: Cavallo Point, The Lodge at the Golden Gate (1901)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 234: Curt R. Strand, President, Hilton InternationalNobody Asked Me, But… No. 233: Hotel History: The Adolphus HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 232: Hotel History: Union Station HotelNobody Asked Me But… No. 231: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, ColoradoNobody Asked Me, But… No. 230: Hotel History: Four Seasons HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: Admiral Fell InnNobody Asked Me, But… No. 228: The Barbizon Hotel, New YorkNobody Asked Me, But… No. 227: Hotel History: The Carlyle Hotel, New York (1929)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 226 Hotel History: Peninsula Hotel, New YorkNobody Asked Me, But… No. 225: Hotel History: The Grand Hotel, Point Clear, AlabamaNobody Asked Me, But… No. 224: Hotel History: The Red Lion InnNobody Asked Me, But… No. 223: Hotel History: The Wales Hotel (1902)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 222: Hotel History: YMCA of Greater New York

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 240: Hotel History: Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (1893)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 240 Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, Canada (1893)

Stanley Turkel | November 24, 2020

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Château Frontenac (611 rooms)

Listed as a National Historic Site of Canada, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is among the nation’s most celebrated historic landmarks. This spectacular retreat is located in the heart of Old Québec, which served as the seat of colonial French power in North America over the better part of two centuries. It was from this location that France presided over thousands of acres that stretched from the Great Lakes to the bayous of Louisiana. Old Québec then became the headquarters in Canada for the British when they wrestled control of the region away from France during the Seven Years’ War. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac resides on the grounds of the former Château St. Louis, which functioned as the main administrative office for both the French and British colonial governments in Québec City until it burnt down in 1834.

American William Van Horne, President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, chose the site of the former Château St. Louis as the location for an extravagant hotel. The ambitious railroad magnate had hoped to spur travel along his company’s new rail lines by developing a series of ornate lodgings that could appeal to upscale travelers. As such, he decided to construct what would become the Fairmont Le Château in downtown Québec City for just that purpose. Van Horne hired the renowned American architect Bruce Price to create the building’s design and construction began shortly thereafter in 1892. Price had used a special architectural style known as “Châteauesque,” which borrowed heavily from Revivalist and French Renaissance design aesthetics. As such, the new hotel resembled a grand historic manor native to France’s Loire Valley. When it finally debuted a year later, Van Horne chose to name the building as the Château Frontenac Hotel” in honor of the region’s legendary colonial governor, Louis de Buade de Frontenac.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has since emerged as one of the world’s preeminent hotel destinations Countless international luminaries have stayed at this spectacular hotel over the years, including military aviator Charles Lindbergh, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, French President Charles de Gaulle and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in the past. The hotel’s magnificent architecture and beautiful décor also inspired the famous film director, Alfred Hitchcock to shoot portions of his classic thriller, I Confess, onsite in 1953 starring Montgomery Clift and Anne Baxter. But Fairmont Le Château Frontenac has been the site of major historical events as well, such as the Québec Conferences of World War II. Held between 1943 and 1944, these meetings were chaired by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. Together, they discussed invasion plans for Western Europe, as well as the shape of the postwar world.

In 1993, the hotel saw another expansion, with the addition of the new wing that included a pool, fitness centre, and outdoor terrace. On June 14, 1993, Canada Post issued ‘Le Château Frontenac, Québec’ designed by Kosta Tsetsekas, based on illustrations by Heather Price. The stamp features an image of the hotel building, and is printed by Ashton-Potter Limited.

In 2001, the hotel was sold to Legacy REIT, which is partially owned by Fairmont, for $185 million. The hotel was renamed the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in November 2001, shortly after Canadian Pacific Hotels reformed itself as Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, taking the name of an American company it acquired in 2001.

In 2011, the hotel was sold to Ivanhoé Cambridge. Shortly after acquiring the hotel, Ivanhoé Cambridge announced an investment of $9 million for the restoration of the building’s masonry work, and to replacement of the building’s copper roofs. The company further announced another $66 million investment for general improvements and renovations throughout the hotel. When the roof was being replaced, an image of the roof was printed on polypropylene safety netting and hung from scaffolding to hide the refurbishing project from view. The extensive renovation saw conference rooms expanded, restaurants remodeled, modernization of the lobby, and the gutting and rebuilding of three-fifths of hotel’s rooms.

My New Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” has been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely-published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: The Algonquin Hotel, NY (1902)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: The Algonquin Hotel, NY (1902)

Stanley Turkel | November 03, 2020

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Algonquin Hotel (181 rooms)

The Algonquin Hotel was originally planned as an apartment hotel with the idea of renting unfurnished rooms and suites on yearly leases to permanent tenants. When few leases sold, the owner decided to turn it into a transient hotel, which he was going to name “The Puritan”. Frank Case, the first general manager, objected and told the owner “it… contradicts the spirit of innkeeping. It is cold, forbidding and grim. I don’t like it.” When the owner replied, “You think yourself so smart, suppose you find a better name,” Case went to the public library to find out who were the first and strongest people in this neighborhood. He stumbled on the Algonquins, liked the word, liked the way it fit the mouth, and prevailed upon the boss to accept it.

The Algonquin Hotel was designed by architect Goldwin Starrett with 181 rooms. General Manager Frank Case assumed the lease in 1907 and then bought the hotel in 1927. Case remained owner and manager until his death in 1946.

The famous Algonquin Round Table was initiated by General Manager Case with a group of New York City actors, journalists, publicists, critics and writers who met daily at lunch starting in June 1919. They met for the better part of ten years in the Pergola Room (now called the Oak Room). Charter members included Franklin P. Adams, columnist; Robert Benchley, humorist and actor; Heywood Broun, columnist and sportswriter; Marc Connelly, playwright; George S. Kaufman, playwright and director; Dorothy Parker, poet and screenwriter; Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker; Robert Sherwood, author and playwright; John Peter Toohey, publicist; and Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist. By 1930, the original Round Table members had scattered, but the so-called “Vicious Circle” remained alive in the mellow and pleasant memory. When asked what became of the Round Table, Frank Case would answer “What became of the reservoir at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street? These things do not last forever. The Round Table lasted longer than any other unorganized gathering that I know of.” Case continued. “I know of no other (group) where the percentage of success was so high. There was scarcely a man among them who failed to place his name high in the field in which he worked, and while perhaps I was rather casual, taking the whole thing for granted, I wasn’t stupid enough not to realize that it was a definite asset to the hotel in a business way, and a constant personal delight to me to be sure of good company every day. That, I think, is one of the pleasantest aspects of hotel keeping especially if your hotel be small; the good companions, good talk, and general gaiety of life. You don’t even have to make any effort; it is delivered fresh every day, charges prepaid.”

In October 1946, Ben and Mary Bodne of Charleston, SC, bought the Algonquin for just over $1 million. They had fallen in love with the hotel on their honeymoon. During their stay, they spotted Will Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Sinclair Lewis, Eddie Cantor and Beatrice Lily. For the former Mary Mazo (Bodne), the Algonquin was the final address in an odyssey that began in Odessa, Ukraine, where she was the second child in a large Jewish family that fled the pogroms when she was an infant. The Mazo family emigrated to Charleston, where her father Elihu opened the city’s first Jewish delicatessen. When George Gershwin and Du Bose Heyward were working on “Porgy and Bess, they were frequent customers. They would also discuss the creation of the show at dinners in the Mazo family home. Decades later, the Mazo tradition of hospitality would continue at the Algonquin. Mary Bodne cooked chicken soup for an ailing Laurence Olivier, and she babysat for Simone Signoret, who called her “one of my three truest friends.”

The Bodnes played host to a new generation of literary and show business celebrities – like the writer John Henry Falk, when he was blacklisted and exiled from Hollywood. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe made so much noise working on a new musical that other guests complained: the show was the hugely successful “My Fair Lady.”

Mr. Bodne, who died in 1992, said that he would sell the Algonquin when it needed self-service elevators. He sold it in 1987 to Aoki Corporation, the Brazilian subsidiary of a Japanese corporation which installed self-service elevators in 1991. In 1997, Aoki sold the hotel to the Camberley Hotel Company which embarked on a $4 million renovation. The company’s British-born president, Ian Lloyd-Jones, hired interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud to update the public spaces without destroying the feeling and character of the historic Algonquin.

In 2002, Miller Global Properties bought the hotel and hired Destination Hotels and Resorts to manage and update its operation. For example, they installed a cutting-edge computerized check-in database that instantly retrieves the personal preferences for arriving guests. Following a $3 million renovation, the hotel was sold again in 2005 to HEI Hotels & Resorts, owner and operator of 25 other full-service properties. HEI embarked on a $4.5 million renovation to upgrade the lobby, the Oak Room restaurant and cabaret, the Blue Bar, the renowned Round Table Room and all suites and guestrooms.

The Algonquin was designated a New York City Historic Landmark in 1987 and National Literary landmark by the Friends of Libraries USA in 1996. The Algonquin historic guest list is a Who’s Who in world culture; Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin, William Faulkner, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Laughton, Maya Angelou, Angela Lansbury, Harpo Marx, Brendan Behan, Noel Coward, Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, among many others.

More recently, the hotel’s Oak Room has featured Harry Connick, Jr., Andrea, Marcovicci, Diana Krall, Peter Cinotti, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Steve Ross, Sandy Stewart and Bill Charlap, Barbara Carroll, Maude Maggart, Karen Akers, among others.

When Frank Case, the first General Manager (and later owner) of the Algonquin wrote his memoir. “Tales of a Wayward Inn” in 1938, he asked 30 regular guests to write their recollections. The more famous were Jack Barrymore, Rex Beach, Louis Bromfield, Irvin S. Cobb, Edna Ferber, Fannie Hurst, H. L. Mencken, Robert Nathan, Frank Sullivan, Louis Untermayer, Henrik Willen Van Loon. However, Frank Case’s wife Bertha had the last word, She wrote,

October 10, 1938

Dear Frankie,

The general tone of the letter to you from friends is scarcely what one might call a knock; in fact while reading them I think of the funeral where the friends of the deceased spoke so glowingly, so fulsomely, of the deceased that the (widow) seated among the mourners, leaned over to her young son, saying, “Tommy, run up now, take a peek and see if that is your father in the box.”

On September 21, 2010, the Algonquin Hotel announced its affiliation with the Autograph Collection, a Marriott Hotel Collection.

My New Book “Hotel Mavens Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Curt Strand, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Raymond Orteig” has been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 238: The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 238: Hotel History: The Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco

Stanley Turkel | October 13, 2020

https://www.hotel-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Fairmont-San-Francisco.jpg

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA (592 rooms)

The luxurious Grande Dame atop Nob Hill in San Francisco was named after U.S. Senator James Graham Fair (1834-1894) by his daughters, Theresa Fair Oelrichs and Virginia Fair Vanderbilt. When the silver king James Fair purchased the site back in the late 1800s, his interest was to build the largest mansion in the neighborhood. However, when he died in 1894, the lot was still undeveloped until 1907 when his daughters commissioned the architectural and engineering firm of Reid & Reid to design a large hotel in Italian Renaissance style. The Reid brothers: James (1851-1943), Merrit (1855-1932) and Watson (1858-1944) designed a 600-room, seven story building made of gray granite, cream marble and terracotta stone. Before the new hotel could open, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire gutted the structure. New owners Herbert and Hartland Law, makers of a popular patent medicine, undertook the major effort to rebuild the Fairmont. They hired Stanford White of the prominent architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. Unfortunately, White was involved in a love triangle and was shot and killed by multimillionaire Harry Thaw. The Law brothers then hired local architect Julia Morgan, the first woman graduate of the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris (and the genius behind the grandiose Hearst Castle). One year later, on April 18, 1907, the Fairmont Hotel opened and in 1908, Theresa Fair Oelrichs reacquired the restored hotel. The Fairmont quickly became San Francisco’s most famous hotel attracting families for long stays of two to three months. The Fairmont provided a thoroughly-equipped school featuring music, dance, art and a complete curriculum of subject matter. In 1926, the eighth floor was added including the 6,000 square foot Penthouse Suite.

By 1917, D.M. Linnard assumed the management and in 1924 bought the controlling interest from the Oelrichs family. In 1929, he sold the Fairmont to George Smith, a mining engineer who had just completed the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Smith undertook a major renovation and installed an indoor pool, the Fairmont Plunge.

For eleven weeks in 1945, the Fairmont was the Capital of the World hosting delegates from more than forty nations representing eighty percent of the world’s population to write the United Nations Charter. On June 26, 1945, President Harry Truman signed the new Charter. At about the same time, financier and philanthropist Benjamin Swig purchased fifty-four percent of the Fairmont for $2 million which he described as follows: “When I bought the hotel, it was obsolete. It was more of an apartment house for the extremely rich, many of whom were characters in the true sense of the word. It was rundown and neglected. The plumbing was bursting – we had ten to fifteen leaks a day – there was no carpet on the floor and the whole thing was just an old ladies home.”

Swig quickly learned that the Plunge pool was not a money maker. He decided to convert it into a restaurant and bar called the S.S. Tonga after Mel Melvin, MGM’s leading set designer found an old four-masted schooner by that name rotting in the mud near Martinez. Guests were soon dining on Chinese food, enjoying exotic drinks on the schooner’s deck, gazing into the blue water of the former Plunge now featuring a floating stage for the orchestra in the Tonga Room. The ambiance was heightened by staged tropical storms, complete with lightning and misty rain falling from concealed sprinklers. Swig hired Dorothy Draper, the famous decorator, to transform the lobby and the public areas. The million dollar modernization program was completed in 1950. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that almost six miles of fabric and three miles of carpeting had been used in the renovation. One critic raved that Draper had “captured the spirit of the past, the romantic glamour of the Champagne days, the traditions of the city blended with the modern.” She added the “Draper Touch” to the Venetian Room Supper Club which opened in 1947 with 400 seats. It attracted top-flight entertainers like Ethel Waters, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, Red Skelton, James Brown, Judy Collins, Tony Bennett (who sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” for the first time here in 1962) and the Ernie Heckscher Band that played for 36 years.

In 1961, Ben Swig built an adjoining 23-story tower with the Crown Room on the top floor and a glass elevator on the outside of the tower with the best views of the city. He also added the Merry-Go-Round Bar to the famous Cirque Lounge with its wild animals murals and wrap-around bar designed by Art Deco architect Tim Pflueger in 1933.

The famous 1983 television series “Hotel” based on the best-selling novel by Arthur Hailey was filmed in the lobby of the Fairmont for the fictional “St. Gregory Hotel.”

The Swig family sold the hotel in 1994 to Maritz, Wolffe & Co. and Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talel who operated 94 hotels worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel brands. In 2012, Oaktree Capital Management and Woodridge Capital Partners acquired the Fairmont San Francisco for $200 million after Maritz, Wolffe & Co. failed to win permission to convert part of the property into residences.

In 2009, it was reported that the Fairmont’s Tonga Room, the venerable tiki bar, which opened in 1945, might be demolished to make room for a condo conversion in an adjacent tower. The New York Times reported on April 3, 2009 that “… San Franciscans have rallied around the Tonga Room. They’ve written letters, signed petitions and defiantly consumed more than their fair share of deep-dish drinks in this temple of tropical kitsch at the top of Nob Hill….one of the finest examples of faux Polynesian paradise around.” As of May, 2016, the Tonga Room has enjoyed a resurgence and there’s been no decision as to its ultimate fate.

In 2015, Oaktree and Woodridge sold the Fairmont San Francisco for $450 million to affiliated companies of Mirae Asset Global Investments, a large financial services company based in Seoul, South Korea. Since 2011, the firm has acquired commercial real estate properties valued over $8 billion including the 317-room  Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, the 531-room Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, the 540-room Fairmont Orchid Hotel and the 282-room Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Pangyo.

The Fairmont San Francisco was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 17, 2002.  It is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

My New Book “Hotel Mavens Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Curt Strand, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Raymond Orteig” has been published.

My Other Published Hotel Books

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand

All of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting www.stanleyturkel.com and clicking on the book’s title.

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

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Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and the 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of hotel history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion and a greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Turkel is the most widely-published hotel consultant in the United States. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, provides asset management and hotel franchising consultation. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 236: Hotel History: The Hermitage Hotel

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 234: Curt R. Strand, President, Hilton International

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Stolen Coffee Pot Wins New Orleans Local $15,000 Roosevelt Hotel Stay