Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 189; Hotel History: The Boar’s Head

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

The Boar’s Head (1834), Charlottesville, Virginia (175 rooms)

On August 13, 2017, the New York Times wrote in “A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath”:

“On Saturday afternoon, President Trump met criticism for condemning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” without singling out white nationalists or neo-Nazis”.

My hotel research about the 183-year old Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville reveals its relationship to the Boar’s Head in London which has been synonymous with warm hospitality and good food since Shakespeare’s day. In the 1730s, the Inn was the site of Terrell’s Ordinary where travelers spent the night. In 1965, the epicurean heart of The Boar’s Head was built from the timbers of an abandoned gristmill along the banks of the Hardware River, which dated back to 1834. The relocation of the mill was an opportunity to preserve and transform a treasured Virginia artifact. It had survived because of the orders of Generals Grant and Custer during their march through Charlottesville in the Civil War.  Indeed, it had continued to operate some 60 years after the war’s end. For 26 years running, the Old Mill Room has earned AAA’s Four-Diamond designation in recognition of its culinary artistry, distinctive Virginia ambiance and superior service.  The Inn was purchased in 1988 by the University of Virginia Foundation with many renovations and upgrading.

Charlottesville is known chiefly as the home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, which he founded. But the area’s softly rolling hills in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains were home also to other men who shaped the early United States.  Presidents Madison and Monroe lived nearby. Albemarle County, in which Charlottesville lies, was settled by pioneers who left the security of Virginia’s eastern shore in the 18thcentury.  Their enterprising spirit was epitomized in the 19th century by native son Meriwether Lewis, Jefferson’s personal secretary who undertook with William Clark to find the Northwest Passage. The early tobacco plantations around Charlottesville vanished long ago, but the rural life-style remains.  Even today the landscape is one of rustic beauty, of cattle and horses farms, of stately mansions, of historic markets and of small country stores. The area around Charlottesville is particularly beautiful in the spring when the vast apple and peach orchards are in bloom, the dogwoods and magnolias flower and the smell of honeysuckle is in the air.

The Boar’s Head Inn was ranked as one of “America’s Top College Hotels” by Travel and Leisure Magazine in its June 2012 issue. “Whether independent B&Bs or historic resorts, the top college hotels deliver much more than proximity… These hotels often embrace the personality of their local institutions and provide an exceptionally adult, dignified experience,” wrote Jason Cochran in the June 2012 article.

The Inn has received increased acclaim since completing a major renovation of all of its guestrooms in March 2012, with a warm, residential feeling of the spaces, the mix of antique and modern furnishings, and fresh color schemes. Special attention was given to the artwork: vintage photos and memorabilia reflect the connection with the University, Thomas Jefferson and the rich history of the area.

A one-hour drive from Richmond and two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., Tidewater and Roanoke, the Boar’s Head offers Four-Diamond dining, a state-of-the-art sports and fitness facility, award-winning tennis, squash, championship golf, shopping, hot-air ballooning, a luxury spa, children’s programs, 22,000 square feet of function space and close proximity to attractions such as Monticello, the Blue Ridge Mountains and numerous wineries. The Boar’s Head is owned and operated by the University of Virginia Foundation.

Frommer’s Review
Standing beside a picturesque lake and named for the traditional symbol of hospitality in Shakespeare’s England, this university-owned property is one of the better all-around resorts in Virginia.  The focal point is a 19th century gristmill that was dismantled and brought here in the early 1960s. The place is loaded with antiques and art, and its plank flooring and huge old ceiling beams give ancient charm to the Old Mill Room, the resort’s signature restaurant offering fine dining accompanied by an excellent selection of Virginia wines.

*excerpted from “Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi” AuthorHouse 2011

My Newest Book

“Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi” is available in hardback, paperback and Ebook format.

Ian Schrager writes in the Foreword:

“This particular book completes the trilogy of 182 hotel histories of classic properties of 50 rooms or more… I sincerely feel that every hotel school should own sets of these books and make them required reading for their students and employees.”

This trilogy consists of the following three books:

  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi

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

My Published Books

Attorneys Take Note:

For the past twenty-four years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 40 hotel-related cases.

My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

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

Don’t hesitate to call me on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related litigation support assignments.

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 a well-known consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases, providing 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.

All of these books can be ordered from the publisher (AuthorHouse) by visiting and clicking on the book title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel / 917-628-8549