Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 249: Hotel History: Ocean House at Watch Hill

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 249: Hotel History: Ocean House at Watch Hillimage.png | June 01, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Ocean House at Watch Hill (49 rooms)

Ocean House is a large, Victorian-style waterfront hotel originally constructed in 1868 on Bluff Avenue in the Watch Hill historic district of Westerly, Rhode Island.

The original 1868 hotel closed in 2003; it was demolished in 2005 and a new facility opened in 2010 on the same site which retained much of the original structure’s form and appearance, as well as the original name. Both the original and its reconstruction are noted for their rambling Victorian architecture and distinctive yellow siding.

The original Ocean House was the last waterfront Victorian-era hotel on mainland Rhode Island.

The Ocean House was originally built in 1868. It was smaller than the other hotels located in Watch Hill, but it expanded with numerous additions over the years. The original Ocean House was a central structure in the Watch Hill Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In March, 2004, Girouard Associates of New Canaan, Connecticut purchased the facility from heirs of the Louis D. Miller family, which had owned the hotel since 1938. Girouard Associates intended to raze Ocean House and build five large oceanfront homes, but a protest ensued. A new buyer was ultimately found, and while the spirit of the original building was preserved, the actual building was not.

Factors related to the closing of the original Ocean House included its lack of modern amenities, its dilapidated condition, and its non-compliance with current building codes. The original Ocean House operated seasonally, open roughly three months a year, and the building lacked a heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system. In the last years of its operation, the top two floors were unused and only 59 rooms were serviceable out of its original 159. The aging facility lacked requisite amenities, service functions, egress requirements, handicapped accessibility requirements, and parking to meet modern codes. A newspaper article described its final condition: “Grand staircases lead nowhere. Rainwater seeps through the walls and runs down wired-in-place gutters. The oak elevator is broken.”

The 138-year-old building was non-compliant with current building and life safety codes. Its timber structure had been compromised by indiscriminate installation of electric, gas, and plumbing utilities, as well as a subsequent reconfiguration of rooms to include private bathrooms. Rhode Island’s fire codes were revised and more rigorously enforced after the 2003 Station nightclub fire, rendering the deficiencies insurmountable at Ocean House. Compliance with current life-safety standards, including those for hurricane-rated windows with new frames, a new concrete foundation with steel tie-downs throughout, stripping off all interior and exterior lead paint, and removal of interior mold requiring demolition of interior finishes.

In 2004, the Ocean House was not permitted to open because of code deficiencies; the original hotel ceased operations in 2003 and was sold. The community learned in March 2004 that a developer from out of town planned to raze Ocean House and build five homes in its place, so organizers began a campaign to save the building and preserve the site’s public oceanfront access and beach. These organizers included representatives from Preserve Rhode Island, Rhode Island Historical Preservation, and Heritage Commission, as well as the National Trust. Another buyer was found who deemed it economically and physically unfeasible to make the building functional and code compliant, but he promised to rebuild it from the ground up. The original building was demolished and a new facility constructed on-site.

Project architects met resistance with the demolition of Ocean House, but they successfully argued for reconstruction. They suggested a building modeled after the original Ocean House as it was its zenith, around 1908. This would permit a 49-room hotel appropriate in scale to its adjacent streets, while expanding toward the beach where 23 condominiums could be accommodated. It also would enable it to have the amenities and service functions that could make the project functionally and economically feasible.

The original Ocean House structure was demolished in December 2005 and the subsequent facility opened in 2010.

The new design is 50,000 square feet larger than the original at 156,000 square feet. It reconstructs much of the original massing and restores certain original details that have been removed during the ongoing operation of the facility, such as the original mansard roof and lobby fireplace. It also incorporates new elements, including subterranean facilities and two new wings extending from the main building, which also shield neighboring residential areas from hotel activities.

The original facility was documented and overall dimensions and heights were preserved, including the size and location of windows. Actual pieces of the original building were salvaged and the design replicates columns, capitals, and woodwork. Materials within human reach are wood while detailing which is out of reach is made of synthetic materials that are more easy to maintain.

The new facility features 49 guest rooms and 23 residential condominium suites as well as meeting rooms, spa, lap, pool, fitness center, and restaurants. The design also accommodates service functions requisite to a modern facility: up-to-date kitchens, loading docks, mechanical rooms, fire egress requirements (e.g. redundant stairs), and staff facilities.

My Newest Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” was published in 2020.

All of my 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 TURKELimage.png

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 historic hotels 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.

Categories

• Industry Happenings (25,760) • Latest news (6,661)
• Technology (5,078)
• Operations (3,831)

• All Things Independent (3,728) • Market Reports (1,812)
• Development (1,573)
• Finance (1,207)

• Smart Strategies (1,144)
• Appointments/People on the Move (1,083)

Instagram

hotelonlinenews

Tags

Follow on Instagram

hotel historynobody asked meocean houseocean house at watch hillstan turkelstanley turkel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 248: Hotel Theresa, New York, N.Y. (1913)
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 247: Hotel History: Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 246: Hotel History: Hotel McAlpin, New York, N.Y. (1912) Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 245: Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, Kentucky (1855)
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormley Hotel
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 243: Hotel History: Hotel Roanoke, Virginia
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
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 236: Hotel History: The Hermitage Hotel
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
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 232: Hotel History: Union Station Hotel
Nobody Asked Me But… No. 231: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 230: Hotel History: Four Seasons Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 248: Hotel Theresa, New York, N.Y (1913)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 248: Hotel Theresa, New York, N.Y. (1913)

Stanley Turkel | May 11, 2021

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Hotel Theresa, “The Waldorf of Harlem” (300 rooms)

On September 18, 1960, four months before the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, Fidel Castro arrived in New York City for the 15th session of the United Nations General Assembly. He and his staff first checked into the Shelburne Hotel at Lexington Avenue and 37th Street. When the Shelburne demanded $10,000 for alleged damage that included cooking chickens in their rooms, the Castro entourage moved to the Hotel Theresa in Harlem. Castro’s group rented eighty rooms for a total of $800 per day. The Theresa was the beneficiary of worldwide publicity when Nikita Khrushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union, General Abdul Nasser, president of Egypt, Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime minister of India, and Malcom X, all visited Castro there.

In the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations, Castro transitioned seamlessly from his hotel experience to the discrimination faced by North American blacks to the broader evils of “imperialist financial capital” and the “colonial yoke”.

At the end of 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy made a campaign stop at the Hotel Theresa with Jacqueline Kennedy, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Senator Herbert Lehman, Governor Averill Harriman, Mayor Robert Wagner and Eleanor Roosevelt. “I am delighted to come and visit,” said Kennedy. “Behind the fact of Castro coming to this hotel, Khrushchev coming to visit Castro, there is another great traveler in the world, and that is the travel of a world revolution, a world in turmoil. I am delighted to come to Harlem and I think the whole world should come here and the whole world should recognize that we all live right next to each other, whether here in Harlem or on the other side of globe.”

The Hotel Theresa opened in 1913 on 125th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem and closed its doors as a hotel in 1970. It was built by German-born stockbroker Gustavus Sidenberg and named for his recently-deceased wife. Coincidentally, Sidenberg’s second wife was also named Theresa. Architects George and Edward  Blum were trained at the famous Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and they designed a full-blockfront all-white apartment hotel, 13 stories high with 300 guestrooms. Like its façade, the newly-opened Hotel Theresa had an all-white clientele and staff for its first twenty-eight years.  In 1940, reflecting the changing population of Harlem, the hotel was acquired by Love B. Woods, an African American businessman who accepted all races, hired a black staff and management. The Hotel Theresa was integrated when most mid-Manhattan hotels wouldn’t accept Blacks. They could perform at the clubs, hotels and theaters in mid-Manhattan but couldn’t sleep in the hotel rooms or eat in their restaurants. Black America’s most famous stars: Josephine Baker, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Dorothy Dandridge, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Lena Horne and Count Basie had to go to Harlem for a night’s sleep. For many blacks the existence of the Hotel Theresa’s luxurious rooms, bars and swank shops was regarded as a sign that they had finally arrived, at least in Harlem. The hotel became known as the “Waldorf of Harlem.”

Seventh Avenue and 125th Street was called the Great Black Way. The neighborhood contained the Salem Methodist Church; the studio of James Van Der Zee, Harlem’s most famous photographer; the African Memorial National Bookstore; the mafia-owned Diamond Jewelry Store; the M. Smith Photo Studio; the Apollo Theater; Blumstein’s Department Store; Frank’s Restaurant; Harlem Opera House; Oscar Hammerstein’s Play House; Hartz and Seamon’s Music Hall; the Cotton Club; Mike’s Place; Savoy Ballroom; Nest Club; Smalls Paradise and The Club Baron.

In 1940, the following announcement appeared in the New York Age:

Harlem Hotel Seeks Negro Trade; Picks Manager: The Hotel Theresa at Seventh Avenue and 125th Street, which catered to white patronage for several years, has changed its policy as of March 20 and will cater to both races, under Negro management with a Negro staff, according to an announcement by Richard Thomas, publicity manager of the hotel. In carrying out its new policy for the accommodation of Negroes and whites, the Gresham Management Company, operators of the Theresa, appointed Walter Scott as the hotel’s manager. Extensive renovations and improvements of the service and facilities of the hotel have been undertaken. A staff of 80 persons has been employed.

The African American General Manager Walter Scott had been the business manager at the Harlem YMCA on 135th Street. A graduate of New York University and a World War I veteran, Scott had worked as a bellhop and waiter on the Hudson River Dayline boats. Early in April 1940, Scott and his wife Gertrude and their sixteen year-old daughter, Gladys moved into a six-room suite on the tenth floor.

In 1941, heavyweight champion Joe Louis attracted 10,000 fans when he stayed at the Hotel Theresa after a victory at the Polo Grounds. Soon thereafter, entrepreneur John H. Johnson was a guest at the Theresa when he started a new pocket-size magazine called Negro Digest and, in 1945, Ebony which was followed by Jet in 1951. After splitting with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X rented offices at the hotel for his Organization of Afro-American Unity.

In 1948, when GM Walter Scott resigned because of illness, Gresham Management hired William Harmon Brown as resident manager. Brown graduated from Howard University where he had earned a National Youth Administration scholarship, funded by a New Deal program. President Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary Ron Brown, the manager’s son, grew up in the hotel. U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel (D. New York) once worked there as a desk clerk. Earlier in 2016 Congressman Rangel retired after serving in the U.S. Congress from 1971-2016.

In 1971, the hotel was converted to an office building with the name Theresa Towers and was declared a landmark in 1993 by New York’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

My Newest Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” was published in 2020.

All of my 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.83

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.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenewsInstagram post 18072439732009889Instagram post 18037678936156831Instagram post 17870090452391124Instagram post 17976176743256949Instagram post 17993811919233333Follow on Instagram

Tags

hotel historyhotel theresanobody asked mestanley turkel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 247: Hotel History: Driskill Hotel, Austin, TexasNobody Asked Me, But… No. 246: Hotel History: Hotel McAlpin, New York, N.Y. (1912)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 245: Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, Kentucky (1855)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormley HotelNobody 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 Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 247: Hotel History: Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 247: Hotel History: Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas

Stanley Turkel | April 20, 2021

facebook sharing button

by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Driskill Hotel (188 rooms)

The Driskill, a Romanesque-style building completed in 1886, is the oldest operating hotel in Austin, Texas, and one of the best-known hotels in Texas. The Driskill was conceived and built by Col. Jesse Driskill, a cattleman who spent his fortune constructing “the finest hotel south of St. Louis”. Flush with cash from his service to the Confederate Army to which he supplied beef throughout the Civil War. In 1884, Driscoll purchased land in downtown Austin for $7500 and announced plans for a new hotel. Today, the Driskill remains one of the premier hotels in Austin, featuring lavish bridal suites, two restaurants, and a grand ballroom.

Cattle baron Jesse Driskill opened the hotel in 1886 in what was then a frontier town. He lost it two years later when his fortune went kaput after his herd died during a severe drought and a freeze.

The Driskill is composed of two interconnected buildings; the original four-story Romanesque Revival building constructed in 1886, and a 13-story annex constructed in 1930.

The original building, designed by local Austin architect Jasper N. Preston, was constructed with over six million pressed bricks and white limestone accents. The building contains two porticos on the southern and eastern facades, which contain large Richardsonian-style arches that were reputed to be the largest in Texas. The façade contains three limestone busts of Driskill and his sons; J.W. “Bud” Driskill facing Brazos Street, A. W. “Tobe” Driskill facing an alley on the west side, and Jesse Driskill facing Sixth Street, whose bust is surrounded by decorative carvings including longhorns on the gable ends.

The hotel opened with 60 rooms including 12 corner rooms with attached baths, a rare feature in hotels of the region at the time. At the center of the hotel was a four-story open rotunda capped by a domed skylight, which functioned as a flue to suck up the hot air and cool the building; the skylight was removed when air conditioning was installed on the roof in 1950. The building was designed for separate entrances for men and women. Two entrances, one on Sixth Street and another facing the alleyway on the west side the building, were reserved for men and were flanked by a saloon, billiard room cigar shop, a newsstand and a barbershop featuring baths. The women’s entrance on Brazos Street allowed female guests to proceed directly to their rooms, thereby avoiding the cigar smoke and rough talk of the cattlemen in the lobby. The second floor contained the main dining room and ballroom, separate parlors for men and women, a children’s dining room, and bridal suites. Other embellishments included an electric bell system, marble bureaus, steam heating, and gas lighting.

The 13-story annex, designed by the El Paso architecture firm Trost & Trost, opened in 1930. The 180-room annex contains a bungalow penthouse that is only accessible from the building’s roof. The bungalow contains two bedrooms with private baths, a living room, and a full kitchen. The bungalow was originally used as a private residence by superintendents of the Southern Pacific Railroad, but was later rented to high-profile guests including Jack Dempsey, Bob Hope, and President Lyndon Johnson. In 1979, the hotel manager restored the bungalow to use as his private residence.

In 1934, a young Texas congressional aide named Lyndon B. Johnson met Claudia Alta Taylor for their first date: a breakfast at the Driskill Dining Room. He was so enamored that he proposed marriage that very day. He and Lady Bird continued to have a strong relationship with the hotel, even watching election returns for his vice presidential and presidential campaigns. And today guests can stay in a room named after him.

The hotel held a grand opening on December 20, 1886, and was featured in a special edition of the Austin Daily Statesman. On January 1, 1887, Governor Sul Ross held his inaugural ball in its ballroom, beginning a tradition for every Texas governor since. In May 1887, less than a year after it opened, Driskill was forced to close the hotel, as he could no longer afford to operate the hotel following a harsh winter and drought that killed his cattle inventory. In addition, S.E. McIlhenny, the hotel’s general manager, and half of the staff were hired by the Beach Hotel in Galveston, which expedited the closure. Driskill sold the hotel in 1888 to his brother-in-law, Jim “Doc” Day, who reopened the hotel late in 1888.

Austin magnate George Littlefield, responsible for other Austin landmark’s opened the Austin National Bank on the southeast corner of the building; the old bank vault still remains. Littlefield later purchased the hotel for $106,000 in 1895 and vowed that it would never close again. Littlefield invested over $60,000 in renovations, including ceiling frescoes, electric lighting, steam heating, and 28 additional lavatories, but still sold the hotel at a loss of $25,000 in 1903 to banking competitor, Wilmot. Wilmot added a barbershop and women’s spa featuring Turkish baths, oversaw the construction of the annex, and adorned the former smoking room with eight antique Austrian gold leaf-framed mirrors previously owned by Maximilian and Carlota of Mexico.

In 1950, the hotel embarked on a renovation, which closed off the Sixth Street entrance and removed the rotunda’s skylight to make way for air conditioning units on the roof. In 1952, the former Austin National Bank was transformed into a television studio for KTBC, the very first television station in Central Texas.

In 1969, the Driskill closed its guest rooms in anticipation of a renovation and new tower containing a modern glass façade, which never materialized. Most of its furnishings were sold, and an American-Statesman article declared, “Driskill Hotel’s Fate ‘Sealed’.” The hotel was saved from the wrecking ball at almost the last minute, however, when a nonprofit organization called the Driskill Hotel Corporation raised $900,000.

In 1908, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas met at the Driskill hotel to discuss the fate of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio. At the meeting, a divide between two factions of the group erupted over whether to demolish or preserve the structure.

Braniff International Hotels, Inc., a division of Braniff Airways, Inc., of Dallas, Texas, bought the hotel in 1972 and began a $350,000 restoration of the grand lobby of the historic facility. Braniff reopened the hotel to customers on January 15, 1973, to very strong bookings and conference business. Braniff threw an official grand reopening celebration on February 10, 1973. Over 1000 guests attended the gala event that included a parade of every Texas Governor and/or their descendants, since 1886. All proceeds from the event went to the Austin Heritage Society, who was strategically instrumental in the resurrection of the Hotel Driskill.

In 1995, The Driskill was purchased by Great American Life Insurance, who embarked on a $30 million renovation to restore the hotel to its original appearance, which had been heavily modified over the years. The hotel closed for four years for renovation work and was re-opened in a Millennium celebration on December 31, 1999.

In 2013, The Driskill was purchased by Hyatt Hotels Corporation for $85 million, who embarked on an $8 million renovation of the hotel which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 25, 1969.

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.164

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.

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenewsInstagram post 18072439732009889Instagram post 18037678936156831Instagram post 17870090452391124Instagram post 17976176743256949Instagram post 17993811919233333Follow on Instagram

Tags

Driskill hotelhotel historynobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 246: Hotel History: Hotel McAlpin, New York, N.Y. (1912)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 245: Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, Kentucky (1855)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormley HotelNobody 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 Hotel

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.

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenewsInstagram post 18072439732009889Instagram post 18037678936156831Instagram post 17870090452391124Instagram post 17976176743256949Instagram post 17993811919233333Follow on Instagram

Tags

historic hotelhotel historyhotel mcalpinJamlee Hotelsnobody asked meSheraton-McAlpinstan turkelstanley turkelTisch Hotel Company

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 245: Boone Tavern Hotel, Berea, Kentucky (1855)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormley HotelNobody 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)New Owners for Historic Maxwell Mansion Hotel in Lake Geneva, WisconsinNobody 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 York

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.

Categories

  • Industry Happenings (25,682)
  • Latest news (5,874)
  • Technology (5,012)
  • Operations (3,804)
  • All Things Independent (3,728)
  • Market Reports (1,733)
  • Development (1,506)
  • Finance (1,192)
  • Smart Strategies (1,080)
  • Real Estate (990)

Instagram

hotelonlinenews

Tags

2020 Historic Hotels Awards of ExcellenceBoone Tavernhistoric hotelhotel historynobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkel

Follow on Instagram

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 244: Hotel History: Wormley Hotel
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 243: Hotel History: Hotel Roanoke, Virginia
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
2020 Historic Hotels Awards of Excellence Winners Announced
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)
New Owners for Historic Maxwell Mansion Hotel in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
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
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 236: Hotel History: The Hermitage Hotel
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
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 232: Hotel History: Union Station Hotel
Nobody Asked Me But… No. 231: Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 230: Hotel History: Four Seasons Hotel
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 239: Hotel History: Admiral Fell Inn
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 228: The Barbizon Hotel, New York

Heroes of the American Reconstruction webinar invitation

Heroes of the American Reconstruction

image.png

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

81 Main Street, #201 | White Plains, NY 10601

Investments | Planning | Consulting

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

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenewsInstagram post 18072439732009889Instagram post 18037678936156831Instagram post 17870090452391124Instagram post 17976176743256949Instagram post 17993811919233333Follow on Instagram

Tags

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

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenews

Instagram post 18072439732009889

Instagram post 18037678936156831

Instagram post 17870090452391124

Instagram post 17976176743256949

Instagram post 17993811919233333

Follow on Instagram

Tags

hotel historyhotel roanokenobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkel

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

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

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

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 232: Hotel History: Union Station Hotel

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

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 230: Hotel History: Four Seasons Hotel

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)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 226 Hotel History: Peninsula Hotel, New York

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 225: Hotel History: The Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Alabama

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 224: Hotel History: The Red Lion Inn

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

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenewsInstagram post 18072439732009889Instagram post 18037678936156831Instagram post 17870090452391124Instagram post 17976176743256949Instagram post 17993811919233333Follow on Instagram

Tags

fisher islandFisher Island Club Hotel & Resorthotel historyleading hotels of the worldnobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkel

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

hotelonlinenewsInstagram post 18072439732009889Instagram post 18037678936156831Instagram post 17870090452391124Instagram post 17976176743256949Instagram post 17993811919233333Follow on Instagram

Tags

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