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

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

Stanley Turkel | January 14, 2020

Hotel History: Grand Hotel, Point Clear, Alabama (306 Rooms)

The site on which The Grand Hotel sits today has seen two earlier hotels so named and the area surrounding the hotel and grounds has had a long and exciting history. It begins in 1847, when a Mr. Chamberlain built a rambling, 100-foot long, two-story hotel with lumber brought down from Mobile by sailboats. There were forty guest rooms and a shaded front gallery with outside stairs at each end. The dining room was located in an adjacent structure, and a third two-story building, called The Texas, housed the bar. Destroyed in an 1893 hurricane, the bar was rebuilt and, according to one contemporary report, “It was the gathering place for the merchants of the South, and poker games with high stakes, and billiards enlivened with the best of liquors were their pastimes.” A fourth building, a two-story frame mansion called Gunnison House, was originally a private summer residence. It became a popular meeting place before the Civil War.

As one of the remaining Confederate strongholds during the Civil War, the port in Mobile was a popular spot for blockade runners. During the 1864 battle between the Confederates and Union, led by Admiral David Farragut- in which he famously proclaimed “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”- the confederates bombarded the Union soldiers with torpedoes, eventually sinking the Tecumseh. A large hole was found in the wall of the Gunnison House, located on the site of the Convention Center today. The city of Mobile remained in Confederate hands until 1865 while the hotel was turned into a base hospital for Confederate soldiers. Farragut was a Southern Unionist who strongly opposed Southern secession and remained loyal to the Union after the outbreak of the Civil War.

300 Confederate soldiers died while at the hospital and are buried in the on-site cemetery, Confederate Rest. The soldiers were buried shoulder-to-shoulder, in mass graves. In 1869, a fire destroyed the documents that identified the deceased and a monument to the unknown soldiers was later constructed at the cemetery, which still stands today.

The hotel reopened after the war, but was almost destroyed by a fire in1869. Miraculously, none of the 150 guests was injured, and all their personal effects, as well as the hotel linens and most of the furniture, were saved.

Repairs were made and the hotel was soon again enjoying a prosperous existence. But then, in August 1871, tragedy struck. The twenty-seven-ton steamer Ocean Wave exploded at the Point Clear pier and scores of hotel guests died. For years afterward, sections of the wrecked steamer could be spotted during low tide.

After the explosion, Captain H. C. Baldwin of Mobile acquired the property, and built a new hotel that resembled the earlier 100-foot-long structure, but was three times longer. Baldwin’s son-in-law, George Johnson, Louisiana State Treasurer, took an active role in the business and became the owner upon Baldwin’s death. This two-story facility of sixty suites was opened in 1875. Steamers stopped at Point Clear three times a week bringing hotel guests. By 1889, boats arrived daily. The winter rates were two dollars a day, ten dollars weekly, and forty dollars by the month. The resort flourished.

In the 1890s, Point Clear was the center of the most brilliant social life in the Deep South. Boats crowded with pleasure-seekers from Mobile and New Orleans docked at the pier; carriages and tandem bikes dashed in and out of the drive; blaring bands and picnickers flocked to the broad lawns. The Grand Hotel was known as “The Queen of Southern Resorts.”

By 1939, however, the place was so badly rundown that its new owners, the Waterman Steamship Company, had it razed and, in 1940, built Grand Hotel III. This was a modern air-conditioned building with ninety rooms; it spread long and low, with giant picture windows and glassed-in porches. A few years later, cottages were constructed, utilizing lumber, especially the fine heart-pine flooring and framing, from the old building. During World War II, when the shipping company turned over the facilities to the United States government for $1 million, it was with the stipulation that the soldiers were not to wear shoes indoors lest they damage the pine floors.

In 1955, the hotel was acquired by McLean Industries, and ten years later J. K. McLean himself bought it and formed the present Grand Hotel Company. A new fifty-room addition was built and extensive improvements were made.

In 1967, a second 9-hole golf course and the first conference center were added. In 1979, the hotel closed as a result of Hurricane Frederick and after repairs reopened on April 10, 1980. In 1981, the Marriott Corporation bought The Grand Hotel and added the North Bay House and the Marina Building, bringing total guest rooms to 306. In 1986, the old Gunnison House was torn down to make way for The Grand Ballroom. Marriott added an additional 9-hole golf course for a total of 36 holes. Major renovations to the hotel were completed in 2003, including a new spa, pool and additional guest rooms. Renovation of the Dogwood course was completed in 2004. The renovation of the Azalea course was completed in 2005.

An expansion of the Grand’s grounds and new real estate opportunities were announced in 2006. The Colony Club at the Grand Hotel opened in spring 2008 and featured condominiums overlooking picturesque Point Clear and Mobile Bay. A new aquatics facility and a tennis center opened at the resort in July 2009.

Daily patriotic military salute and cannon firing started in 2008. The hotel continues to honor the military influence. Each day a processional begins at the lobby, weaves around the grounds, and concludes with the firing of a cannon at 4:00 PM. The Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa, is a member of the Historic Hotels Autograph Collection of America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.118

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Starwood Capital Group Plans Summer 2020 Opening of The Grand Hotel in Birmingham, UKNobody 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 YorkDavidson Hotels & Resorts Adds Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island to Management PortfolioNobody Asked Me, But… No. 221: Hotel History: Hotel FlorenceNobody Asked Me, But… No. 220: Hotel History: The Heathman HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 219: Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years AgoStolen Coffee Pot Wins New Orleans Local $15,000 Roosevelt Hotel StayNobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles LindberghNobody Asked Me, But… No. 217, Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort HotelsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 216: Hotel History: Ellsworth M. StatlerNobody Asked Me, But… No. 215: Hotel History: The TWA HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 214: Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, EgyptNobody Asked Me, But… No. 213: Hotel History: Sheraton’s Classic Advertising CampaignsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 212: Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California (1888)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)

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

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

Stanley Turkel | December 23, 2019

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Red Lion Inn (108 Rooms)

For more than 246 years, the Red Lion Inn has been welcoming visitors to the Berkshires with traditional New England hospitality. Sometime in 1773, Anna and Silas Bingham opened a general store which became a stagecoach stop, tavern and the Stockbridge House. In 1786, Daniel Shays led a group of more than 100 local farmers and citizens to protest post-war taxation. Stockbridge was the headquarters for “Shays Rebellion.”

In 1807, Anna Bingham sold the eight-room inn to store owner Silas Pepoon. Over time, the Inn changed hands many times and in 1862 Charles and Mert Plumb began a ninety-year family ownership dynasty. The arrival of the Housatonic Railroad in 1842 and its extension to Pittsfield in 1850 made Stockbridge more accessible and attractive to wealthy families who built grand “cottages”. In 1884, the Inn was enlarged to accommodate 100 guests and the quality of food and amenities improved. Under Mert Plumb’s direction the Inn was renamed “Plumb’s Hotel” and became a museum-like repository of antique furniture, crockery, pewter and teapots.

In 1896, a fire nearly destroyed the property but the Berkshire Courier in Great Barrington reported that “Mrs. Plumb’s noted collection of colonial china, pictures, wearing apparel and furniture, the largest of its kind in the country, and to the delight of everyone who went to Stockbridge, was saved.” Mr. Plumb’s nephew, Allen T. Treadway (aided by his assistant James H. Punderson, whose daughter Molly later became the third wife of famed illustrator Norman Rockwell) undertook the restoration and in May 1897, the Red Lion was opened, more attractive than ever.

From the Red Lion Inn’s inception until it was leveled by fire in 1896, its crest was a red lion waving a green tail. It is believed that while the red lion was symbolic of the Crown, the green tail indicated sympathy for the colonists during the Revolutionary War. At its rebirth in 1897, Mr. Treadway unveiled a new crest in the form of a shield. At the top were a lion and two dates: 1773 and 1897, indicating the birth and rebirth of the Inn. Within the body of the shield were a teapot, plate, Franklin stove, highboy, clock and two large keys representing the Inn’s fine collection of antiques. In the early 1920s, the shield was replaced by the traditional lion that we see today, plump and well-fed sporting the familiar red tail.

In November 1968, the Inn was nearly demolished for construction of a gasoline station. It was rescued by John and Jane Fitzpatrick, the founders of Country Curtains, a mail order business. The Fitzpatricks were so intrigued by the Inn’s history that they installed a large new kitchen and dining room called Widow Bingham’s tavern. On May 29, 1969, the Inn was opened for year-round business for the first time. In 1974, several nearby buildings, including the former village firehouse, were purchased to be used as guesthouses. Mr. Fitzpattrick served four terms as Massachusetts state senator from 1972-1980 and once again the Red Lion Inn became the center of political activity in Berkshire County.

A charter member of Historic Hotels of America since 1989, The Red Lion Inn has been providing food and lodging to guests for more than two centuries. The Red Lion is recommended by National Geographic TravelerThe New York Times, and The Boston Globe. It offers 108 antique-filled rooms and suites, formal and casual dining with an emphasis on contemporary regional specialties, and the Lion’s Den pub with nightly entertainment, a year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub (with radiant-heated patio).

The inn has hosted six presidents and numerous other notable figures including Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Cullen Bryant and Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. The Red Lion’s quintessential New England charm was immortalized by Norman Rockwell in his painting Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.90

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.

Website: (www.stanleyturkel.com)

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 223: Hotel History: The Wales Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 223: Hotel History: The Wales Hotel (1902)

Stanley Turkel | December 03, 2019

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: The Wales Hotel

One of the most charming historic hotels in New York, the Wales Hotel is closing its doors in 2020. It opened in 1902 as the 92-room Hotel Chastaignery on 92nd Street and Madison Avenue in the neighborhood called Carnegie Hill. After four name changes over one hundred years it became the Hotel Wales in 2000. Its earlier names after Chastaignery were Hotel Bibo, Hotel Bon Ray, the Carnegie Hill Hotel and the Wales Hotel.

An original 1902 hotel brochure described the opening of the Hotel Chastaignery as follows:

A new fireproof family hotel and public restaurant just opened by Mr. Charles Jaimes of the Brevoort House. Situated at Madison Avenue and Ninety-second Street, it is undoubtedly destined to prove a brilliant and permanent success.

The Chastaignery is a new and splendid building situated at the highest altitude and in the heart of the wealthy residential centre of the city. It is a nine-story structure, fronting 100 feet on Madison Avenue and 63 feet on Ninety-second Street.

Mr. James has created this establishment at an enormous cost, and in doing so he has benefited the entire neighborhood. It gives to New Yorkers or to visitors from other cities, a splendid resort in a magnificent neighborhood, which does away with the necessity for a journey down town.

That Mr. Jaimes will make a brilliant and permanent success of his new departure may be regarded as a foregone conclusion. No man stands higher as a hotel keeper, or is more widely known or more universally respected, and none has a greater body of friends. A native of France, Mr. Jaimes was for many years with the Grand Hotel of Paris. Then he was a long time with Delmonico and for the last seven years or so he has been proprietor of the Brevoort.

The Carnegie Hill neighborhood encompasses roughly the area from 86th Street to 96th Street between Central Park and Lexington Avenue. It contains the former Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Sloan mansions on Fifth Avenue. More than a half dozen major museums including the Metropolitan, Guggenheim, Cooper-Hewitt and Jewish Museum are in close proximity to galleries, haute couture designers, chic boutiques and up-scale restaurants.

In the early years of the twentieth century, the Hotel Chastaignery was renamed the Hotel Bon Ray by its new proprietor, Morris Newgold. The hotel published the following well-written brochure:

Madison Avenue at Ninety-second street is on the topmost rise of the highest hill in New York’s centre, and nearly every apartment in the Bon Ray overlooks Central Park and obtains an extended vista over the reservoir, a large lake and the trees. Walks extending in all directions within this enchanting spot. An ideal playground for children, furnishing beautiful and invigorating walking grounds for older folks. No more healthful location can be found in this greatest of cities.

While the hotel appeals to the many families in the great Southland who visit New York, especially in summer, when they wish to escape the heat and turmoil of a great throbbing city with all its noises, yet the main support it receives is from those who live all the year round in the city and engage in business, those who want a quiet, restful retreat at night when they get home to spend the time with their families. It is to this class of patrons that the Bon Ray offers apartments on long leases, either furnished or unfurnished, at such rates as to provide a home at reasonable cost. Only by inspection can one arrive at a knowledge of what we have to offer, and those who investigate receive the same courtesy, should they not become tenants, as those who do.

Dining-Room.

The owner of the Bon Ray, by careful attention to the quality of the food, its preparation, service to the table and rooms, has established a high standard of excellence, and furnishes American plan board that will satisfy the connoisseur.

Construction.

The Hotel Bon Ray is of steel construction and absolutely fireproof, with fire escapes connecting with every suite, fire tanks on the roof connected with separate stand pipes, and long lines of fire hose, in perfect order, on every floor.

There are long distance telephones in each apartment.

The rooms are light and airy, the parlors fitted with parquet floors, and the decorations the best that good taste can devise. The toilet appointments are complete and superb.

The bathrooms are finished entirely in white Italian marble.

Ball Room and Mezzanine Floor.

An exquisite Ball Room with a perfect floor and ventilating system, Banquet Room and Special Kitchen, together with Ladies Parlor and Gentlemen’s Smoking Room. Medium sized rooms for private dinner are located on the Mezzanine Floor, which is used for weddings, receptions, announcements, dancing, card parties, etc. Special prices and terms are made for any of these events upon request. The tableware, candelabra, napiery and silverware of rare beauty and in good taste. Frequent dances are given by the Bon Ray during the season, which are free to the guests and their friends.

A Parting Word.

To those who are dissatisfied with their present living quarters, and to those who are about to establish a new home, this booklet is addressed. It is hard for some people to find satisfactory homes even among the abundance to be had in New York. This is partly due to the fact that apartment houses do not, as a rule, contain all the advantages wished for, and there are often important features lacking. The Hotel Bon Ray combines about every advantage in its arrangements that is possible to obtain, and those interested in the task of finding a new home are cordially invited to call and inspect for themselves.

In recent years the strip of territory next to the easterly wall of the city’s greatest park has been recognized as the choicest residential section of America. The Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Sloan group of mansions (one block from the hotel), occupy the choicest positions with reference to the Park and aid in furnishing the beautiful view obtained from the hotel windows.

Come and see for yourself. Out-of- town patrons should have in mind that they can secure apartments of several rooms and bath at a price no greater than they would pay at some other hotels for a single room and bath. To those in Europe, South America or Cuba, especially we urge that they write and get our rates.

The Hotel Wales is scheduled to close in January 2020. The real estate firm Adelloo LLC bought the Wales for $56.25 million and is promoting what it calls a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience classic New York City” with a Hotel Wales Curtain Call Package that includes a 20% off regular rates on stays two nights or more from June 23 until closing in January 2020. The building will be converted to luxury condos after that.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.122

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

Categories

Instagram

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hotel historynobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkelthe wales hotel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 222: Hotel History: YMCA of Greater New YorkNobody Asked Me, But… No. 221: Hotel History: Hotel FlorenceNobody Asked Me, But… No. 220: Hotel History: The Heathman HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 219: Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years AgoStolen Coffee Pot Wins New Orleans Local $15,000 Roosevelt Hotel StayNobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles LindberghNobody Asked Me, But… No. 217, Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort HotelsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 216: Hotel History: Ellsworth M. StatlerNobody Asked Me, But… No. 215: Hotel History: The TWA HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 214: Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, EgyptNobody Asked Me, But… No. 213: Hotel History: Sheraton’s Classic Advertising CampaignsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 212: Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California (1888)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, MichiganNobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.:  Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 222: Hotel History: YMCA of Greater New York

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 222: Hotel History: YMCA of Greater New York

Stanley Turkel | November 13, 2019

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: YMCA of Greater New York

Do you know that there is a 167-year old organization located in New York City which owns and operates more than 1,200 hotel rooms in five separate locations in three boroughs? Some of its facilities are housed in landmark buildings and contain world-class athletic and fitness centers that surpass all private competitive facilities.

It’s the YMCA of Greater New York which traces its roots to 1852 and has evolved as a flexible organization serving people of both genders, all ages, races, and religious beliefs. Its history is one of responding energetically and consistently to the times and the changing needs of its constituents and communities.

From its initial evangelical Christian orientation, the YMCA has grown to be a secular, values-oriented organization with a special focus on positive development in city youth. Historically it has served the urban poor as well as the middle class with programs ranging from educational courses and employment bureaus to gymnasiums and resident accommodations. Some people interpret “YMCA” to mean that YMCAs are only for “young Christian men.” Not true. Despite its name, the YMCA is not just for the young, not just for men and not just for Christians. All ages, all religions, all genders are welcome at the YMCA.

There are currently five YMCA properties in the New York area providing accommodations for transient guests. These YMCA’s house both male and female guests who are interested in finding safe, clean, affordable and centrally located guest room facilities, fitness centers and restaurants.

Guest rooms at the YMCA are singles and twin rooms (bunk beds) with shared bathroom facilities located down the corridors. There are a limited number of premium rooms with double beds and rooms with private baths at an additional cost.

Amenities at all the YMCA’s include daily housekeeping service, free group fitness classes, cardio strength training, basketball court/gymnasium, sauna, teen programs, youth sports, swim lessons, electronic door locks, guest laundry, luggage storage and restaurant.

West Side YMCA – 480 Rooms

The world’s largest YMCA opened to the public on Monday, March 31, 1930. It was designed by Architect Dwight James Baum who designed 140 houses in the Riverdale area from 1914 to 1939.

The West Side Y has two swimming pools: the Pompeiian pool (75’ x 25’) with glazed Italian tiles. The slightly smaller Spanish pool (60’ x 20’) is surfaced with Andalusian tiles of rich cobalt blue flecked with yellow, a gift from the Spanish government. The Y has three gymnasiums, one with a running track above; five handball/racquetball/ squash courts, two group exercise studios, 2,400 sq. ft. free weight room, boxing room with both heavy and speed bags, stretching and martial arts rooms, mediation studio for yoga and mediation classes. The building also houses the jewel-box Little Theater, where one-time resident Tennessee William’s play “Summer and Smoke” was presented in 1952.

Any number of famous people have stayed at the West Side Y while establishing their careers; among them Fred Allen, John Barrrymore, Montgomery Clift, Kirk Douglas, Eddie Duchin, Lee J. Cobb, Douglas Fairbanks, Dave Garroway, Bob Hope, Elia Kazan, Norman Rockwell, Robert Penn Warren and Johnny Weismuller.

A recent renovation to the bathrooms reflects an important amenity improvement that will be installed on the remainder of the West Side Y’s floors and ultimately to the other New York City YMCA’s. The shared bathroom facilities have been converted to private bathrooms, each with a stall shower, toilet, wash basin, good lighting, mirror, electrical outlet, hooks and new colorful tile from floor to ceiling. These locked private bathrooms are accessible only with the guests’ electronic room key card. These bathrooms are better than country club standard.

Vanderbilt YMCA – 367 Rooms

Located on Manhattan’s fashionable East Side, the Vanderbilt Y building has a classic design matching that of its neighbors, which include the United Nations and Grand Central Station. Over the doorway of the Vanderbilt Y these words are etched into the stone: “Railroad Branch Young Mens Christian Association”. It was initiated under Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s leadership in 1875 when the YMCA’s had grown enormously, spreading from Manhattan and the Bronx to Brooklyn and Queens.

The new Railroad YMCA opened in 1932 at a cost of $1.5 million at 224 East 47th Street between Second and Third Avenues. In 1972 its name was changed to honor Cornelius Vanderbilt. The building has 367 guest rooms, a full-sized gymnasium, a modern four-lane indoor swimming pool with a one-meter diving board. There are shower rooms for men and women; weight training and exercise rooms; and massage, sunlamp and sauna departments.

The Vanderbilt’s spacious, air conditioned restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday through Friday. The facility seats 122 persons and serves more than 250,000 meals per year.

Harlem YMCA – 226 Rooms

The 135th Street YMCA traces its roots to the summer of 1900 which was marked by racial disturbances in the still predominantly white Harlem and Manhattan’s Tenderloin district over the growing inequality of black citizens. Earlier a “colored” YMCA operated at 132 W. 53rd Street in the heart of San Juan Hill, an African American residential area where fashionable clubs fueled artistic life and gave the district its reputation as a “black Bohemia”. Between 1910 and 1930, Harlem’s black population doubled creating the only large-scale, fully developed African American community in the nation.

Julius Rosenwald, a top executive of Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago, gave a total of $600,000 in challenge grants to build YMCA’s and YMCA’s for African Americans in many North American cities. One of those was the 135th Street Y which opened in 1919 at a cost of $375,000. The Branch quickly established itself as a pillar of the community in civic and social affairs and of the Harlem Renaissance that began in the 1920s. Writing in theOutlook, Booker T. Washington noted that the gifts from his friend Julius Rosenwald to the YMCA “have been a help to my race….in what they are doing to convince the white people of this country that in the long run schools are cheaper than policemen; that there is more wisdom in keeping a man out of the ditch than in trying to save him after he has fallen in; that it is more Christian and more economical to prepare young men to live right than to punish them after they have committed a crime.” By 1940, the original Harlem Y was inadequate, overcrowded and worn and needed program space for boys, a supervised dormitory and counseling facilities for the thousands of African American youth seek work in New York City. Transient “Red Caps”, Pullman porters and dining car men, who were not allowed to use the segregated Railroad YMCA’s, also needed accommodations. In 1933, a new Harlem YMCA was built on West 135th Street directly across from the existing Harlem Y. By 1938, the original Y was remodeled as the “Harlem annex” to house its boys’ department. In 1996, it was remodeled again, reopening as the Harlem YMCA Jackie Robinson Youth Center.

A cultural center unto itself, the Branch hosted and housed renowned writers such as Richard Wright, Claude McKay, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes; artists Jacob Lawrence and Aaron Douglas; actors Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Cicely Tyson and Paul Robeson. In years gone by, the Harlem YMCA’s 226 rooms were often occupied by African American visitors and performers to New York City who couldn’t get rooms in midtown hotels because of racial discrimination.

Flushing YMCA – 127 Rooms

Citizens in Flushing broke ground in 1924 for a YMCA Branch on Northern Boulevard near La Guardia Airport to serve residents of Bayside, Douglaston, College Point, Whitestone, Kew Gardens and other nearby communities. The building with 79 guest rooms opened in 1926. Subsequent expansion took place in the following two years with new playgrounds, athletic leagues, and summer camps. Flushing added a new wing with an Olympic-sized pool and a businessmen’s athletic club in 1967 and 1972, 48 guest rooms.

Greenpoint YMCA – 100 Rooms

The Brooklyn Association raised capital for new buildings through the 1903 Jubilee Fund, a drive that marked its 50th Anniversary. Between 1904 and 1907, the Association completed three new buildings: Eastern District in Williamsburg; Bedford between Gates and Monroe Streets; and Greenpoint. Each of these branches contained a swimming pool, running track, gymnasium, club rooms, lounges and residence guest rooms. In 1918, the Greenpoint Branch added two floors of dormitory rooms. In its early days, it was known as the workingmen’s YMCA because of its focus on the needs of employees in many nearby factories.

William Sloane Memorial YMCA-1,600 Rooms

Opened in 1930 on West Thirty-Fourth Street and Ninth Avenue, the building was built primarily to serve more than 100,000 young men seeking their fortune during the Great Depression as well as the thousands of soldiers, sailors and marines during and after World War II. Finally, in 1991, the Association closed the Sloane House and sold the building.

In 1979, the singing group, the Village People, scored their biggest all-time hit in the form of “YMCA”, a disco smash recording. The band promoted the song with a folk dance routine that features hand signals illustrating the letters of the title. This caught on at discos around the world and has since become a part of pop-culture folklore. Anytime the song is played on a dance floor, it’s a safe bet that many people will perform the dance routine with the appropriate YMCA hand signals.

Y.M.C.A

“Young man, there’s no need to feel down.

I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.

I said, young man, ‘cause you’re in a new town

There’s no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there’s a place you can go.

I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough.

You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find

Many ways to have a good time.

It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A

It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A”

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.111

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.co/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 221: Hotel History: Hotel Florence

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 221: Hotel History: Hotel Florence

By Stanley Turkel | October 22, 2019

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Hotel Florence

The Hotel Florence is a former operating hotel located in the Pullman Historic District on the far south side of Chicago, Illinois. In 1880, the railroad pioneer George Pullman purchased a site of 3,500 acres near Lake Calumet on the Illinois Central Railroad. With demand exploding for his sleeping railroad cars. Pullman decided to build the largest factory to produce them and a company town to house his employees and their families. Pullman believed that if he built a town without saloons and agitators, his workers would be forever loyal to the Pullman creed. Pullman City ultimately grew to 12,000 inhabitants. It had its own shopping center, a savings bank, theater, church, schools and playgrounds. It also had a library of 8,000 books and the luxurious Hotel Florence (named after Pullman’s daughter). Pullman City and the Hotel Florence were designed by architect Solon Spencer Beman (1853-1914). Several of Beman’s largest commissions including the Pullman Office Building, Pabst Building and the Grand Central Station in Chicago have since been demolished. Beman also designed many Christian Science churches. Celebrated at first for good planning Pullman City’s reputation suffered when the Pullman Palace Car Company refused to lower rents after cutting wages, starting the violent national Pullman strike.

The Hotel Florence was chiefly remarkable for the elegance and beauty of design and finish, together with its luxury in furniture, fixtures and appliances, all combined making it equal, save that of size, to the most costly hotels in any of the large cities.

The building rises to a height of four stories above the half basement, the upper lines being broken by a fanciful roof of gables and dormer windows, which makes the building resemble a fine large mansion more than it does a hotel. A veranda 16 feet wide and 268 feet long extends along the front and sides of the building which is treated in East Lake and Queen Anne designs, the ceiling being painted a light sky blue, which harmonizes perfectly with the deep red of the brick of which the walls are constructed. A short flight of steps give approach to the central portion of the veranda in front, upon which the office and rotunda opens through wide doors of polished cherry. When entering the lobby, the Tennessee marble counter surmounted at one end by a handsome cherry desk, is in full view of the entrance to the parlor and the gentlemen’s reading room. Immediately beyond the latter is the billiard room across the hall from the lunch room and saloon designed for guests of the hotel. Large open fire places welcome you upon entering the lobby, parlors and dining room.

The furniture of the parlor is made of solid mahogany and upholstered with heavy Maroon velvet plush. The dining room is immediately across the hall from the parlor and is L shaped. The original portion of the hotel had 50 sleeping rooms, a dining room, a billiard room barber shop, separate men’s and women’s parlors and the only bar in Pullman City. The building was originally lighted with gas lights and heated with steam radiators, the steam generated by the Corliss Engine located across the street in the factory buildings.

The first floor and the Pullman Suite were trimmed with cherry woodwork and accented by multicolored stained glass windows. On the second floor, the Pullman Suite was kept for George Pullman when he visited the factory and town as the Pullman family lived in the fashionable Prairie Avenue District, just south of downtown.

The second through the fourth floors housed the hotel rooms and suites. Each floor, similar to train cars, provided a different “class” of service. The more elegant and expensive rooms were located on the second floor, where they were closer to the lobby. These rooms were outfitted with Eastlake furniture and included larger suite layouts. The rooms on the third and fourth floors were smaller and furnished in different styles on each floor.

The hotel was off limits to Pullman workers. George Pullman did not want his laborers to drink and banned the sale of alcohol within town limits. An exception was made for guests of the Hotel Florence, however. A bar served whiskey and other beverages inside the hotel. The hotel restaurant specialized in pork chops which were featured on the hotel menu in 1902.

The Historic Pullman Foundation bought the Hotel Florence in 1975 to save the aging building from demolition and to renovate it. In 1991, it was sold to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as an integral part of the Pullman State Historic Site. The Hotel is open for tours and special events.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.237

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 220: Hotel History: The Heathman HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 219: Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years AgoStolen Coffee Pot Wins New Orleans Local $15,000 Roosevelt Hotel StayNobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles LindberghNobody Asked Me, But… No. 217, Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort HotelsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 216: Hotel History: Ellsworth M. StatlerNobody Asked Me, But… No. 215: Hotel History: The TWA HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 214: Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, EgyptNobody Asked Me, But… No. 213: Hotel History: Sheraton’s Classic Advertising CampaignsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 212: Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California (1888)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, MichiganNobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.:  Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)Hilton Singapore Welcomes New Executive Chef Kazi HassanNobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris LapidusNobody Asked Me, But… No. 200: Hotel History: Cesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 220: Hotel History: The Heathman Hotel

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 220: Hotel History: The Heathman Hotel

Stanley Turkel | October 02, 2019

Hotel History: The Heathman Hotel

The original Heathman Hotel was built in 1926 one block from the current structure by George Heathman for $1 million. Because of the success of the original hotel, Heathman immediately started construction of a new 10-story concrete structure designed by the architectural firm of DeYoung and Raold. The New Heathman Hotel was designed in the Jacobean Revival style and was Portland’s largest construction project to that date. When it opened, Governor I. L. Patterson and Mayor George Luis Baker made dedication speeches while radio station KOIN featured a live band. The Oregon Journal described the Heathman Hotel as “Portland’s newest and most modern hotel. Its planning, construction and general appointments are as modern as human ingenuity and talent could possibly make it.”

Because it was located on Portland’s “Great White Way”, ablaze with theatre marquees, restaurants and shops, it became the focal point of downtown’s entertainment center.

George Heathman died at age 49, less than three years after the new Heathman Hotel was opened. His wife, Katherine and their two children remained active and retained an interest in the operations until Harry Heathman, George’s son, passed away in 1962.

By the 1950s, most of the commercial and retail establishments left downtown Portland for the suburbs. It was not until the late 1960s that city leaders sought to convince major retail stores to resume operating down town. In addition, the city created a performing arts center in the old Paramount Theatre which had originally opened as the Portland Public Theatre. It was designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp in Italian Rococo Revival style in 1928. It was renamed the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in 1984 and redesigned by ELS Architects.

The Heathman Hotel’s public spaces were remodeled by Portland architect Carter Case and interior designer Andrew Delfino including the eucalyptus-paneled Tea Court. A 100-year-old crystal chandelier from the U.S. Embassy in Czechoslovakia was installed in the Tea Court.

On April 17, 2019, Conde Nast’s Traveler featured the Heathman Hotel as the hotel of the week:

Built in 1927, this much-loved Portland landmark, elevated to international stardom by its cameo in the steamy 2011 bestseller 50 Shades of Grey, got a fashionable facelift earlier this year, and those used to its old-money library will either love or hate the 10-story historic hotel’s bright and stylish refresh. What hasn’t changed are the opulently costumed doormen, prime downtown location (next door to the popular Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall), and robust Russian-themed afternoon tea in the luxe downstairs tea court. After a day of shopping, museum-hopping, or hiking in nearby Washington Park, pluck a good book off the lobby library shelf, secure a spot on the blue velvet sofa by the fireplace, and order a dozen oysters and a bottle of Sancerre from James Beard Award—winning chef Vitaly Paley’s onsite restaurant, Headwaters.

Sounds lovely. Who’s staying here?
Weekend wanderers, wedding parties, honeymooners, and 50 Shades of Grey superfans.

Tells us everything about the rooms.
The 151 guest rooms are beautifully redone in white, gray and sea blues, with bright white wooden wall panels at the head of each bed, elegant bar carts, plump cozy chaises, pretty blue-and-white patterned throws, and locally produced Water Avenue Coffee and Steven Smith teas. If you want space to spread out, book a Corner King Room; it’s nearly 500 square feet, with a leather lounger in the sitting area and plenty of natural light.

Any stand-out features or services?
The all-local honor bar sports wee bottles of Burnside Bourbon, fig vinegar sourced from Red Ridge Farms in the Willamette Valley, and Sourdough and Olive Oil bars by Portland chef turned chocolatier David Briggs of Xocolatl de Davíd. Feel like a pint of Salt & Straw’s Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons in bed while you catch up onThe Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Whether it’s 9 p.m. or 9a.m., room service will deliver it with a spoon—and a smile.

What’s the deal with food and drink?
Upon check-in, choose a pint of Oregon craft beer or glass of wine, and mark your calendar for 5 p.m. when the hotel hosts a complimentary spirits hour featuring a craft cocktail of the day. Headwaters, James Beard Award—winning chef Vitaly Paley’s seafood restaurant, serves three solid meals a day, but you’re in the center of one of the most exciting food cities in the country, so get out and about.

Any thoughts about the hotel’s facilities?
You’ll be eating well and often during your Portland stay, so best take advantage of the hotel’s small but mighty gym, with its mini rock-climbing wall, punching bag, and live-streaming Peloton bikes. If leaving the room isn’t part of your workout, order a Well-Fit Kit, equipped with a Manduka yoga mat, barrel bands, weights and core ball, and workout-video loaded iPad. The hotel also has discounted and complimentary passes to local fitness studios; just stop by the front desk.

What’s the bottom line?
The Heathman is a fresh-faced piece of authentic Portland history with the perfect downtown location, lots of local amenities, and the library of your dreams.

The Heathman Hotel has been a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation since 1991. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.103

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

Categories

Instagram

hotelonlinenewsFollow on Instagram

Tags

hotel historynobody asked mestan turkelstanley turkelthe heathman hotel

RELATED NEWS:

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 219: Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years AgoStolen Coffee Pot Wins New Orleans Local $15,000 Roosevelt Hotel StayNobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles LindberghNobody Asked Me, But… No. 217, Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort HotelsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 216: Hotel History: Ellsworth M. StatlerNobody Asked Me, But… No. 215: Hotel History: The TWA HotelNobody Asked Me, But… No. 214: Hotel History: Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo, EgyptNobody Asked Me, But… No. 213: Hotel History: Sheraton’s Classic Advertising CampaignsNobody Asked Me, But… No. 212: Hotel History: Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California (1888)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 211: Hotel History: Asian American Hotel Owners Association*Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 210: Hotel History: John Q. Hammons (1919-2013)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 209: Hotel History: The Americana of New York (1962)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 208: Hotel History: Grand Hotel (1887) Mackinac Island, MichiganNobody Asked Me, But… No. 207: Hotel History in Brooklyn, N.Y.:  Hotel Bossert (1909) and St. George Hotel (1885)Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 203: Hotel History: The Skirvin Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (225 Rooms)Hilton Singapore Welcomes New Executive Chef Kazi HassanNobody Asked Me, But… No. 202: Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C.Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 201: Hotel History: Architect Morris LapidusNobody Asked Me, But… No. 200: Hotel History: Cesar Ritz and Auguste EscoffierNobody Asked Me, But… No. 199: Hotel History: Fanciful Prediction, Definition of “Turnpike”, The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality, Hokusai, the Great Japanese Printmaker

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 219: Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years Ago

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 219: Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years Ago

Stanley Turkel | September 11, 2019

Hotel History: Josh Billings on Hotels One Hundred and Forty-Eight Years Ago

Josh Billings was the pen name of the 19th century American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw (1818-1885). He was a famous humor writer and lecturer in the United States during the latter half of the 19th century. He is often compared to Mark Twain.

Shaw was born in Lanesborough, Massachusetts. His father, Henry Shaw, served in the United States House of Representatives from 1817 and his grandfather, Samuel Shaw, also served in the Congress from 1808-1813.

Shaw attended Hamilton College but was expelled in his second year for removing the clapper of the campus bell. Shaw worked as a coal miner, farmer and auctioneer before becoming a journalist in 1858. Under the pseudonym “Josh Billings”, he wrote humorous columns in the slang of the day often with eccentric phonetic spellings dispensing folksy wit and humor:

Josh Billings on Hotels

New Albany Weekly Ledger, New Albany, Indiana

March 22, 1871:

“I don’t know of any business more flattersome than the tavern business. There don’t seem to be anything to do but to stand in front of the register with a pen behind the ear, and see that the guests enter the house, then tell John to show the gentleman to 976, and then take four dollars and fifty cents next morning from the devil of traveller, and let him went.

This seem to be the whole thing (and it is the whole thing) in most cases.

You will discover the following description a mild one of about nine hotels out of ten between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, across the United States in a straight line.

Your room is 13 foot 5 inches, by 9 foot 7 inches, parallelogramly. It being court week (as usual), all the good rooms are employed by the lawyers and judges.

Your room is on the uttermost floor.

The carpet is ingrain – ingrained with the dust, kerosene oil, and ink spots of four generations.

There is two pegs in the room to hitch coats onto; one of them broke off, and the other pulled out and missing.

The bureau has three legs and one brick.

The glass on the bureau swings on two pivots, which have lost their grip.

There is one towel on the rack, thin but wet.

The rain water in the pitcher came out of the well.

The soap is as tough to wear as a whetstone. The soap is scented with cinnamon oil and variegated with spots.

There is three chairs, cane setters; one is a rocker, and all three is busted.

There is a match safe – empty.

There is no curtain to the window, and there don’t want to be any; you can’t see out, and who can see in?

The bell-rope is come off about six inches this side of the ceiling.

The bed is a modern slat-bottom, with two mattresses – one cotton and one husk, and both harder and about as thick as a sea biscuit.

You enter the beds sideways, and can feel every slat at once as is you could the ribs of a gridiron.

The bed is inhabited.

You sleep some, but roll over a good deal.

For breakfast you have a gong, and Rio coffee too cold to melt butter; fried potatoes, which resemble chips that a two-inch auger makes in its journey through an oak log.

Bread, solid; beefsteak, about as thick as a blister plaster, and as tough as a hound’s ear. Table covered with plates, a few scared to death pickles on one of them, and six fly-indorsed crackers on the other.

A pewterinkum castor with three bottles in it, one without any pepper in it, one without any mustard, and one with two inches of drowned flies and some vinegar in it.

Servant girl, with hoops on, hangs around you earnestly, and wants to know it you want another cup of coffee.

You say, “No, ma’am, I thank you,” and push back your chair. You haven’t eat enough to pay for picking your teeth.”

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

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)

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.Download Nulled WordPress ThemesDownload Best WordPress Themes Free DownloadDownload WordPress ThemesDownload Premium WordPress Themes Freefree download udemy paid course69

ABOUT STANLEY TURKEL

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

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

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles Lindbergh

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles Lindbergh

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 218; Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles Lindbergh

August 20, 2019

(Original Caption) Colonel Charles A. Lindbergh and Raymond Orteig posed together at Hotel Brevport here after Lindy had received the $25,000 Orteig prize for first nonstop flight from New York to Paris.

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Raymond Orteig and Charles Lindbergh

Raymond Orteig (1870-1934) was the New York City hotel owner who offered the $25,000 Orteig Prize to the first aviator to fly between New York City and Paris.

In 1919, Raymond Orteig, a practically unknown New York City hotel owner, issued an extraordinary challenge to the fledgling flying world. Enthralled by tales of pioneer aviators, the French-born Orteig, who owned the Brevoort and Lafayette Hotels in New York City, offered a purse of $25,000 to be awarded to “the first aviator who shall cross the Atlantic in a land or water aircraft (heavier than air) from Paris or the shores of France to New York, or from New York to Paris without a stop.”

Orteig said his offer would be good for five years, but five years came and went without anyone accomplishing this feat. No one even tried. In 1926, Orteig extended the term of his offer for another five years. This time around, however, aviation technology had advanced to a point where some thought that it might, indeed, be possible to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. Charles A. Lindbergh was one who thought it could be done, but few people believed that this obscure mail pilot had any chance of collecting Orteig’s $25,000 prize.

Born in France, Raymond Orteig emigrated to the United States in 1882. He began a career in the hotel and restaurant business and eventually became the maitre d’ at the Lafayette Hotel in New York City, which was located not far from the Brevoort Hotel in Greenwich Village. In 1902, he purchased the Brevoort, which was known for its basement café. Comprising three adjoining houses on Fifth Avenue between 8th and 9th Street, the Brevoort had gained a reputation in the late 19th century as a stopping place for titled Europeans. The Brevoort Café’s French menu, enriched by Orteig’s yearly wine-buying trips to France attracted an illustrious crowd of Greenwich Village artists and writers. Among them was the popular Mark Twain who took up residence between 1904 and 1908 in the Gothic-revival town house located on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and East 9th Street. (That house had been built in 1870 by James Renwick, architect of nearby Grace Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, completed in 1878.) In 1954, the entire block, including the hotel and Mark Twain’s townhouse, was razed to make way for the 19-story Brevoort apartment building.

“Lucky Lindy” and the Spirit of St. Louis landed at Curtis Field on Long Island from California on May 12, 1927. En route, pilot and plane set a new record for the fastest United States transcontinental flight. Eight days later, Lindbergh took off for Paris from New York’s Roosevelt Field. Fighting fog, icing, and sleep deprivation, Lindbergh landed safely at Le Bourget Field in Paris at 10:22 PM on May 20, 1927 – and a new aviation hero was born. The plane had carried him over 3,600 miles in under 34 hours and won the $25,000 Orteig prize.

The first trans-Atlantic flight heralded the “Lindbergh Boom” in aviation. Aircraft industry stocks rose in value, and interest in flying skyrocketed. During Lindbergh’s subsequent U.S. tour and goodwill flight to Central and South America, the flags of the nations he visited were painted on the cowling of his plane. At the invitation of Chief Executive Officer Juan Trippe, he then joined Pan Am World Airways. Trippe recalled that he was present at Roosevelt Field when Lindbergh started his history-making flight.

Conversely, Raymond Orteig is all but forgotten. His Lafayette Hotel (known as the Hotel Martin from 1863 to 1902, when Orteig acquired and rechristened it) was patronized by international celebrities who were drawn by its French food and service. When the Brevoort faltered in 1932 during the Great Depression (as did so many other hotels), Orteig sold it and nurtured the Lafayette through the depression. In 1953, the Lafayette was demolished for a modern apartment building, the six-story Lafayette Apartments at University Place and 9th Street.

Advancing public interest and aviation technology, the Prize occasioned investments many times the value of the prize. In addition, lives were lost by men who were competing to win the prize. Six men died in three separate crashes. Another three men were injured in a fourth crash. During the spring and summer of 1927, 40 pilots attempted various long-distance over-ocean flights, leading to 21 deaths during the attempts. For example, seven lives were lost in August 1927 in the Orteig Prize-inspired $25,000 Dole Air Race to fly from San Francisco to Hawaii.

1927 saw a number of aviation firsts and new records. The record for longest flight distance, and longest overwater flight were set and all exceeded Lindbergh’s effort. However, no other flyer gained the fame that Lindbergh did for winning the Orteig Prize.

The Orteig Prize inspired the $10 million Ansari X Prize for repeated suborbital private spaceflights. Similar to the Orteig Prize, it was announced some eight years before it was won in 2004.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

My Other Published Hotel Books

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.Free Download WordPress ThemesFree Download WordPress ThemesDownload Premium WordPress Themes FreeDownload WordPress Themesudemy course download free

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 217, Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort Hotels

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 217, Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort Hotels

Stanley Turkel | July 30, 2019 109 Shares

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Catskill Mountain Resort Hotels
This is the story of an area of 250 square miles, approximately an hour and a half drive northwest of New York City, which over the course of last century became a resort phenomenon unlike any other. The area had attracted tourists since the post-Civil War years because of its visual appeal and accessibility via two railroad lines, the Ontario & Western and the Ulster & Delaware. The new arrivals came up to the Catskill Mountains to settle, to farm, and to escape the unhealthy environment of urban tenement life.

The message came back to New York’s lower East Side: the air was clean and fresh, the scenery was beautiful, and the climate in July and August was cooler than the city. Farmhouses were converted into boarding houses to accommodate visitors seeking simple pleasures of fresh air, farm-fresh food, mountain vistas and a stroll down a shady lane.

These summer resorts in parts of Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties were called the “Borscht Belt” which attracted Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. These resorts were a popular vacation spot for New York City Jews between the 1920s and 1970s. The hotels, bungalow colonies, summer camps and self-catered boarding houses were mostly frequented by families of middle and working class Jewish New Yorkers. Some of these Catskill hotels were converted from farms that immigrants had started in the early 1900s. The area catered specifically to Jewish families providing kosher foods, bedrooms and entertainment. Nearly all famous Jewish performers and comedians would hone their skills at these resorts including Sid Caesar, Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, Gabe Kaplan, Jerry Seinfeld, Henry Youngman, Andy Kaufman, Buddy Hackett, Jerry Lewis, Joan Rivers and many others.

In its heyday, as many as 500 resorts catered to guests of various incomes. Some of the larger hotels had producers such as Moss Hart at the Flagler, Neil Simon at the Taminent. They performed scenes from Kingsley’s Dead End or Odets’ Waiting For Lefty or musicals like the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union’s Pins and Needles. Staff members would sing selections from The Barber of Seville or Pagliacci.

Famous prize fighters Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston and Muhammed Ali trained there. Millions of tourists, especially New Yorkers, swam in the lakes and oversized swimming pools and chose to ski or ice skate, to take lessons in tennis and golf. The best known resorts were The Concord, Grossinger’s, The Nevele (“Eleven” spelled backwards), Brickman’s, Kutcher’s, Friar Tuck Inn, Gilbert’s, the Woodbine Hotel, the Tamareck Lodge, the Raleigh, and the Pines Resort.

Two of the larger hotels in High View (north of Bloomingburg) were the Shawanga Lodge and the Overlook. In 1959, the Shawanga hosted a conference that marked the beginning of serious research into lasers. The hotel burned to the ground in 1973. The Overlook had entertainment and summer lodging through the late 1960s and was operated by the Schrier family. It included a main building and about 50 other bungalows, plus a five-unit cottage just across the street.

The New York, Ontario & Western Railway carried passengers to the resort from Weehawken, New Jersey, until 1948. The railroad was abandoned in 1957.

The decline of the Catskills resorts was apparent as early as 1965. Entertainment in America was changing as the country ushered in the jet age. As ethnic barriers in the U.S. began to fall and travel to distant resorts became easier and cheaper, fewer Jewish American families in New York City went to the Catskills. By the early 1960s, between a quarter and a third of Grossinger’s annual visitors were non-Jewish. Even the universalization of air-conditioned hotels across America drew customers away from the aging resorts primarily built before this innovation became common. In the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s, traditional resort vacations lost their appeal for many younger adults.

Smaller, more modest hotels such as Youngs Gap and the Ambassador found themselves in a niche with a vanishing clientele and closed by the end of the 1960s. By the mid-1990s, nearly 300 hotels and motels had gone out of business in Sullivan County.

The 1970s took a toll on more lavish establishments such as the Flagler and The Laurels. In 1986 Grossinger’s closed for renovations, and the work was never completed by new owners. Grossinger’s largest historic rival (and the largest of all the Borscht Belt resorts), the Concord, benefitted only temporarily, filing for bankruptcy in 1997 and closing a year later.

Long-delayed plans are now being implemented by those who purchased the Concord Resort Hotel and Grossinger’s to work with local Native Americans to bring gambling to the region. Because the Borscht Belt’s prime market has long passed and many of the resorts are abandoned, developers believe that the only way to revitalize the region is by attracting guests to world-class casinos and resorts such as those in New Jersey and Connecticut.

On February 8, 2018, the Resorts World Catskills Casino opened in the heart of the old “Borscht Belt” in Monticello, New York about 80 miles northwest of New York City. It features an 18-story hotel, 150 table games and 2,150 slot machines. The casino will be the cornerstone of a $1.2 billion resort complex that will include an entertainment village, an indoor waterpark lodge and an 18-hole golf course Charles A. Degliomini, executive vice president of Resorts World Catskills said, “With our opening, we look forward to driving tourism to the Catskills, stimulating the economy and making meaningful contributions that help put the Catskills back on the map as a premier getaway and true destination.”

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” is Available
My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

My Other Published Hotel Books

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.Download Best WordPress Themes Free DownloadDownload WordPress ThemesFree Download WordPress ThemesFree Download WordPress Themesudemy course download free

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 216: Hotel History: Ellsworth M. Statler

Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 216: Hotel History: Ellsworth M. Statler

July 09, 2019

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: Ellsworth M. Statler

In 1950, the hotel industry named Ellsworth Milton Statler “Hotel Man of the Half Century”, even though he had been dead for 22 years. Statler’s impact on inn-keeping was so great, no one else even came close.

While many considered Statler the premier hotel figure, he was not a typical executive. A plain, rugged man who started to work at the age of nine, he continued to wear twenty dollar suits and four dollar shoes even after he became successful, and resembled Will Rogers more than Rudolph Valentino.

When Statler began in the hotel business, the following practices were commonplace:

  • Some hotels embarrassed non-paying male guests by cutting off their trousers at the knees and making them parade in the lobby with sandwich signs that proclaimed them as “deadbeats.”
  • One hotel forbade guests from spitting on the carpets, lying in bed with their boots on, or driving nails into the furniture.
  • Even the better hotels had shared bathroom facilities. Bathtubs were usually built on a platform, and hot water cost 25 cents extra.
  • About 90 percent of hotels were American plan, with cheap, unlimited food included in the room rate.
  • Smoking was usually not permitted in dining rooms, bars barred women, and wine and beer sold better than liquor.
  • Rooms were heated with stoves or open fireplaces. Signs reminded guests not to blow out the gas jets.
  • No hotel owner called his house full until all double beds were fully occupied, often by complete strangers. Talk about yield management.

Statler was more interested in comfort in his hotels than fancy trimmings. “A shoe salesman and a traveling prince want essentially the same thing when they are on the road – good food and a comfortable bed – and that is what I propose to give them,” he said. To counter criticism that his hotels were not luxurious enough, Statler said, “I could run a so-called luxury hotel or a resort hotel that would beat any damn thing those frizzly-headed foreigners are doing, but I just don’t operate in that field. All I want to do is to have more comforts and conveniences and serve better food than any of them have or do, and mine will be at a price ordinary people can afford.”

Statler was born on a farm near Gettysburg, PA on October 26, 1863, the son of William Jackson Statler and Mary Ann McKinney. When he was young, the family moved to Bridgeport, Ohio across the Ohio River from Wheeling, West Virginia. Statler and his brothers worked hard and hot at the La Belle Glass Factory in Kirkwood, OH, tending glory holes, small furnaces used to heat and soften glass so it could be formed into bottles or other products. Statler landed in the hotel field as a nighttime bell-boy at the McLure House Hotel in Wheeling.

At 15, Statler who had begun work at $6 a month, board and tips, was promoted to head bellman. By the following year, Statler had learned how to keep accounting records, and at 19, he became hotel manager.

In 1878, the McLure House had an elevator, but it was reserved for guests and the manager. Bellboys had to use the stairs to carry luggage and guest necessities like hot water and kindling. Guestrooms were barely adequate, furnished only with a bed, a chair, and a large clothing hook on the door. Apparently, the McLure’s saloon was more in tune with guest needs, offering a free lunch buffet consisting of cold meats, hard-boiled eggs and rye bread. A large painting of a nude female hung over the bar.

Enterprising and innovative, Statler leased the hotel’s billiard room and railroad ticket concession and made them profitable. He got help from an unexpected source: younger brother Osceola had developed an amazing talent for billiards. Osceola’s fame brought people to the hotel to watch the local champion defeat players from out-of-town. Statler bought out the company that ran the nearby, four-lane Musee Bowling Lanes, added four additional lanes and installed eight pool and billiard tables. He then organized a city-wide bowling tournament with a grand prize of $300 for the winning team.

“The Pie House” in the Musee building, served his mother’s pies, minced chicken and minced ham sandwiches on egg-shell china with quadruple-plated table silver. The place was so busy, that the pin boys in the bowling alleys had to spend their spare time cranking the ice-cream freezers.

The family business thrived with Osceola as manager of the billiard room; brother Bill had charge of the bowling lanes; mother Mary and sister Alabama turned out sandwiches and pies. As for Ellsworth, a $10,000 annual income allowed him to pursue his dream: to own and operate a 1,000-room hotel in New York City. Ultimately, he fulfilled it, following the old vaudeville line that to get to New York City, you had to go by way of Buffalo.

Statler used to go fishing with friends in the St. Clair River at Star Island in Canada. In 1894, on his way home, he stopped in Buffalo where he observed the Ellicott Square building under construction, billed as “the largest office building in the world”. He learned that management was looking for an operation for a large restaurant for $8,500 per year rental. Statler struck a deal to lease the space provided he could raise enough money to furnish a large restaurant. That summer, Statler also married Mary Manderbach, whom he had met in Akron eight years earlier. They moved to Buffalo, opening Statler’s Restaurant July 4, 1895 with fireworks and patriotic oratory.

Statler staked all on a convention of the Grand Army of the Republic that would bring thousands of Union Army veterans and their families to Buffalo. He widely advertised a menu offering “all you can eat for 25¢.” The quarter bought bisque of oysters, olives, radishes, fried smelts with tartar sauce and potatoes Windsor, lamb sauté Bordelaise with green peas, roast young duck with applesauce and mashed potatoes, Roman punch, fruit or vegetable salad with Russian dressing, cream layer cake, Metropolitan ice cream, coffee, tea or milk. What’s more, you could eat as much as you liked.

In 1907, Statler built and opened the 300-room Buffalo Statler, launching a chain of middle-class hotels that standardized comfort and cleanliness. Seeking a competitive edge, he designed the “Statler plumbing shaft.” This enabled bathrooms to be built back to back, providing two baths for little more than the price of one and allowing him to offer many private rooms with adjoining baths. Statler’s preoccupation with comfort and efficiency brought about the following innovations: ice water circulating to every bathroom, a telephone in every room, a full-sized closet with a light, a towel hook beside every bathroom mirror, a free morning newspaper, and a pin cushion with needle and thread. In 1922, at the Pennsylvania Statler in New York City, Statler introduced the Servidor, a bulging panel in the guestroom door where the guest hung clothes for cleaning or pressing. The valet could pick up and return them without entering the room. The Pennsylvania Statler also was the first hotel to offer complete medical services including an X-ray and surgical room, a night physician and a dentist.

Statler was also concerned about making certain staff focused on guest satisfaction. When he established his first hotel, he said “a hotel has just one thing to sell. That one thing is service. The hotel that sells poor service is a poor hotel. It is the object of the Hotel Statler to sell its guests the very best service in the world.”

Statler’s precepts eventually became the “Statler Service Code,” a formulation for employees the founder’s ideals. The code aroused so much interest that it was made available to guests and became a Statler tradition. Long before “empowerment” became a cliché, every Statler employee signed off on a pledge including these:

  1. To treat our patrons and fellow employees in an interested, helpful, and gracious manner, as we would want to be treated if positions were reversed;
  2. To judge fairly – to know both sides before taking action;
  3. To learn and practice self-control;
  4. To keep our properties- buildings and equipment- in excellent condition at all times;
  5. To know our job and to become skillful in its performance;
  6. To acquire the habit of advance planning;
  7. To do our duties promptly; and
  8. To satisfy all patrons or to take them to our superior.

Statler’s widow, Alice managed to keep the company solvent during the Depression. She ran Statler Hotel Co. until 1954, when she sold it to Hilton Hotels for $111 million, merging Statler’s 10,400 rooms with Hilton’s 16,200. That was the greatest hotel merger and largest private real estate deal in history up until that time.

My New Book, “Great American Hotel Architects” Has Just Been Published

My eighth hotel history book features twelve architects who designed 94 hotels from 1878 to 1948: Warren & Wetmore, Henry J. Hardenbergh, Schultze & Weaver, Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Bruce Price, Mulliken & Moeller, McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Julia Morgan, Emery Roth, Trowbridge & Livingston, George B. Post and Sons.

You can order copies from the publisher AuthorHouse by posting “Great American Hotel Architects” by Stanley Turkel.

My Other Published Hotel Books

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.Download Premium WordPress Themes FreeDownload WordPress ThemesFree Download WordPress ThemesDownload Best WordPress Themes Free Downloadfree download udemy paid course

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.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

stanturkel@aol.com/917-628-8549