Nine Historically and Culturally Rich Hotels
|WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 2005 – National Trust Historic Hotels
of America announces the addition of nine new members. This selection brings
the program’s total membership to 210 hotels, representing 41 states, the
District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Historic Hotels of America represents some of America’s classic properties and destinations. Travelers can visit a ranch in Wickenburg, Ariz., one of the south’s grande dames in Memphis, Tenn., two mountain resorts in New Hampshire, a hotel at a military academy and a small hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter dating to 1856 which survived Mother Nature’s latest wrath.
“Travelers today continue to seek historically and culturally rich locations for vacation and business travel,” said Thierry Roch, executive director of National Trust Historic Hotels of America. “The nine new members showcase America’s hospitality from as early as the mid-18th century while allowing guests to experience the amenities and service of the 21st century. From a railroad hotel near Yellowstone National Park to a picturesque Main Street town in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, we are proud to add these nine hotels as members of Historic Hotels of America.”
Here’s a sampling of interesting facts highlighting the history and architecture of the hotels as well as personalities who have walked through the doors.
The tradition of The Peabody ducks in Memphis, Tenn., is rooted in history. In the 1930s, General Manager Frank Shutt returned from a hunting trip and mischievously placed their live duck decoys in the hotel’s lobby fountain. The prank was well-received and the tradition continues daily.
Every four years, The Balsams garners national attention as the citizens of Dixville Notch, N.H., cast the first ballots in the presidential election in the hotel just after midnight on Election Day.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt began every one of his successful campaigns for governor and president from the front porch of the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, N.Y.
True to the spirit of the Old West, Rancho de los Caballeros located in the Sonoran Desert of Wickenburg, Ariz., features cookouts while dining under the stars and listening to the tunes of a cowboy balladeer.
The Gallatin Gateway Inn in Gateway, Mont., was built in 1927 by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad as a grand destination for visitors to nearby Yellowstone Park. More than 500 men worked to complete the building in just four short months.
The Bienville House Hotel in New Orleans, which dates to 1856, has a long and colorful history including serving as part of a rice milling complex in the mid-twentieth century.
The Thayer Hotel in West Point, N.Y., was originally built at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to house academy personnel and their guests. Today, the hotel is privately owned by a group of West Point graduates.
Stonewall Jackson Hotels & Conference Center in Staunton, Va., is located in a Great America Main Street Award-winning community. The hotel has a circa 1924 restored Wurlitzer organ in its ballroom.
Mountain View: The Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield, N.H., became a guest house in 1865 quite by chance when a stagecoach accident promoted owner William Dodge to accept stranded travelers in his home. The next morning the guests were so captivated by the spectacular views they extended their stay.
National Trust Historic Hotels of America 2006 New Members
Rancho de los Caballeros, Wickenburg, Ariz.—Ranch de los Caballeros is located in the rugged hills of the Sonoran Desert one hour northwest of Phoenix. During the 1930s, Dallas Gant managed a guest ranch in Wickenburg during the winter months. In 1941, he brought his bride Edie back to Wickenburg and together they became renowned for their hospitality and service. Several years later, the Gants partnered with two former guests and Rancho de los Caballeros was born. Rough-hewn beams, Mexican tiles and whitewashed walls invoke the flavor of a welcoming hacienda. Surrounded by 20,000 acres, Rancho de los Caballeros offers guests the chance to experience the desert: in a variety of ways including: an 18-hole championship golf course, horseback riding, jeep tours, mountain biking, trap and skeet shooting, children’s program and more. The ranch, now under the guidance of a second generation of Gants, is open from October to May. Rates include three meals a day. The ranch’s popular cookouts offer dining under the stars and the tunes of a cowboy balladeer. (79 casitas)
Bienville House Hotel, New Orleans— Dating to 1856, the property was named in honor of Jean Baptiste Sieur de Bienville, the French Canadian who founded New Orleans in 1718. Classic wrought iron balconies and a lush courtyard convey the appearance of a stately manor home, an ambiance that is further reflected in the hand-painted murals, over-stuffed furnishings and graceful appointments that adorn the hotel’s interior spaces. Located in the French Quarter, just steps away lie some of the Big Easy’s most famous features, including Bourbon and Royal Streets, jazz clubs, restaurants, shopping and the mighty Mississippi River. (83 guest room and suites; rates from $99) Note: The full impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Bienville House Hotel has not been fully determined.
Gallatin Gateway Inn, Gateway, Mont.— The Gallatin Gateway Inn was built in 1927 by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad as a grand destination for visitors to nearby Yellowstone National Park. More than 500 men worked to complete the building in just four short months. The hotel’s opening on June 17, 1927, was a “mammoth celebration,” locally eclipsing even the news of Charles Lindbergh’s miraculous trans-Atlantic flight. The Gallatin Gateway Inn quickly became one of the finest hotels in the Rocky Mountains, hosting as many as 20,000 guests a year. However, as the railroad’s fortunes declined, so did the inn. It gradually descended into squalor with a raucous bar and cheap apartments. In 1990, the inn underwent a multi-million dollar restoration. The original railroad clock greets guests in the lobby. The Gallatin Gateway Inn is located 12 miles southwest of Bozeman, Mont. Yellowstone National Park is one hour away. (33 guest rooms and suites)
The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel, Dixville Notch, N.H.—The Balsams has been in continuous operation since it first opened as the Dix House in 1866. Local innkeeper George Parsons named the rustic 25-room property in honor of Colonel Timothy Dix, Revolutionary War patriot, founding father of Dixville Notch and business partner of Daniel Webster. Its simple architecture has been embellished over the years with an extensive verandah, four-story tower and the addition of an expansive new wing in 1918. Every four years, the Balsams garners national attention as the citizens of Dixville Notch cast the first ballots in the presidential election at just after midnight on Election Day at the hotel. Dixville Notch is in the White Mountains of N.H., providing year-round recreational activities including golf, tennis, boating, fishing, hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing, ice-skating, a children’s program and more. The resort is a four-hour drive from Boston. (202 rooms and suites)
Mountain View: The Grand Resort & Spa, Whitefield, N.H.—On a rainy night in 1865, a group of travelers en route to Montreal was stranded when their stagecoach hit a muddy rut and overturned. They found a warm welcome at the Dodge farmhouse and were so captivated by the hospitality of their hosts and the spectacular surroundings that they prolonged their stay. The following summer, the group returned and convinced the Dodges to open a boarding house, aptly named Mountain View House. A number of additions were made to the original structure, including a dramatic two-story piazza and observatory towers, as well as a bowling alley, billiard hall and dancing parlor. The hotel remained in the Dodge family until 1979 and the 1980s saw the once-grand hotel fall into decline. A $20 million restoration was completed in 2002 and included the addition of the full-service Tower Spa. Recreational activities include golf, tennis, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and children’s program. The hotel is located 150 miles northwest of Boston offering stunning views. (146 guest rooms)
Beekman Arms & Delamater Inn, Rhinebeck, N.Y.—In 1766, Arent Traphagen relocated his father’s successful tavern—constructed of sturdy timber and stone to withstand possible Indian attacks—to the crossroads of “Ryn Beck.” A few years later, the inn was a haven for revolutionaries, hosting George Washington, Benedict Arnold and Alexander Hamilton. The 4th Regiment of the Continental Army drilled on the lawn and the townspeople took refugee here when the British burned the state capital at Kingstown, just across the river. The property was sold to Asa Potter in 1802 and became the epicenter for political and social life in the community. It was inside the inn that rivals Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton exchanged insults that led to their infamous duel and Hamilton’s death. Years later, Hyde Park neighbor Franklin Delano Roosevelt began every one of his successful campaigns for governor and president from the front porch of the Beekman Arms. Rhinebeck, N.Y. is located 95 miles north of New York City. (22 guestrooms in the Beekman Arms, 50 guest rooms and suites in the Delamater Inn)
The Thayer Hotel, West Point, N.Y.—Standing like a medieval fortress atop the banks of the Hudson River sits the Thayer Hotel, constructed in 1926 on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Originally built to house Academy personnel and their guests, the hotel was named in honor of Colonel Sylvanius Thayer, superintendent of the Academy from 1817 to 1833. Its impressive Gothic-style facade is constructed of granite from local quarries and the crenellated roofline and turrets heightens its imposing presence. Over the years, the hotel has hosted an array of dignitaries including Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Bush; Generals Omar Bradley and Douglas Mac Arthur and the 52 American hostages who were released from Iran in 1981. Recently, a group of West Point graduates set about the daunting task of renovating the hotel—this also included privatizing the hotel’s ownership. The Thayer Hotel is located on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point, 50 miles north of Manhattan. (147 guest rooms)
The Peabody, Memphis, Tenn.— The original Peabody Hotel, named for philanthropist George Peabody, opened in 1869 and was a symbol of the South’s rebirth. The Peabody was the center of Memphis social life, hosting plantation owners and presidents, Hollywood stars and high-stakes gamblers. In 1925, the Peabody was rebuilt in its present Union Avenue location. A few years later, general manager Frank Shutt gave birth to another Memphis institution when he and some friends returned from a hunting trip and mischievously placed their live duck decoys in the hotel’s lobby fountain. The prank was well-received and the tradition has continued daily, on a grand scale, ever since. In the 1970s, Memphis like many other urban areas experienced a period of economic decline, which caused the Peabody to close its doors. In 1981, the Peabody opened after an extensive, six-year restoration which breathed new life into downtown Memphis and restored the hotel to its original grandeur. The Peabody is located in downtown Memphis, just 15 minutes from Memphis National Airport and Elvis Presley’s Graceland and within walking distance of Beale Street and the Gibson Guitar factory. (468 guest rooms and suites)
Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center, Staunton, Va.—
The Shenandoah Valley is rich in history and natural beauty. The city of
Staunton, founded in 1747, has long been a center of social and commercial
activity for the region. Its fine collection of antique homes and buildings
reflects every style from Queen Anne to Colonial Revival and many have
been painstakingly preserved. In honor of these efforts, the city was recognized
as the first Virginia community to receive the National Trust for Historic
Preservation’s Great American Main Street Award. Adjacent to the Main Street
district sits the Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center, named
for Confederate General and Virginia native Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
The impressive brick structure, designed by H.L. Stevens, opened in 1924
and boasted a one-of-a-kind Wurlitzer organ. The hotel quickly became the
premier gathering spot for Shenandoah Valley Society. Today, the property
is undergoing a comprehensive renovation to restore its vintage charm while
incorporating the finest in modern guest amenities and services. Staunton
is two hours southwest of Washington, D.C. (124 guest rooms and suites)
A program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Hotels of America is a marketing association. To qualify for membership, hotels must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance. Established in 1989 with 32 original hotel members, Historic Hotels of America recognizes and promotes these hotels for their historic integrity, architectural quality and outstanding preservation efforts made by owners and managers.
|Also See:||John Power, Developer of Sea Ranch in Northern California, Pumping New Life into the Historic Gallatin Gateway Inn near Bozeman, Montana / September 2004|
|Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, a Historic New Hampshire Resort, Acquired by Great American Life Insurance Company; Stephen Wright Appointed Managing Director / June 2005|