Hotel Online  Special Report

 An Estate in Vermont, a Former Tavern on Martha’s Vineyard, An Old-world
Florida Inn and an Art Deco Hotel in Milwaukee Added to
Historic Hotels of America
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 31, 2006–National Trust Historic Hotels of America announces the addition of four new members. This selection brings the program’s total membership to 211 hotels, representing 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The new member hotels offer travelers a diversity of locales from an estate in Vermont to a former tavern on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., to an old-world Florida inn and an Art Deco boutique hotel in Milwaukee.

“More and more people are seeking heritage and cultural experiences when they travel,” said Thierry Roch, executive director of Historic Hotels of America. “Historic Hotels of America gives travelers the opportunity to enhance their journey by staying in a historic hotel—an authentic experience. We are pleased to add these four hotels to our collection. Their diversity showcases the variety of experiences available through Historic Hotels of America.”

Here’s a sampling of interesting facts highlighting the history of the hotels as well as personalities who have walked through the doors.

Gasparilla Inn and Cottages, Boca Grande, Fla., takes its name from the legendary Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar, who reputedly plundered the Gulf of Mexico in the 18th century. The construction of the railroad to serve the phosphate & Tarpon fishing ports opened the quiet, remote island of Boca Grande, Fla., to travelers in 1907. Today, a small preserved village is popular for fishing & boating.

The Kelley House in Edgartown, Mass., opened its doors as a tavern in 1742 and served as a gathering place for locals, visitors and as respite for generations of weary sailors.

The Castle Hill Resort & Spa in Ludlow, Vt., was the dream of Alan Fletcher, who served as governor of Vermont from 1912 until 1915. European craftsman worked five years creating old-world details. The building was a technical marvel of its time—the first home in the state with an elevator and fully wired for electricity. Fletcher used locally-quarried stone for the façade.

The Ambassador Hotel, Milwaukee has undergone a decade long revitalization which has served as a cornerstone in the rebirth of the surrounding neighborhood near Marquette University.

National Trust Historic Hotels of America - New Members
April 2006

Gasparilla Inn and Cottages, Boca Grande, Fla.—At the turn-of-the-last century, Boca Grande was little more than a quiet island port. The American Agricultural Chemical Company was granted nearly all the property on the island in return for building the railroad system along the west coast of Florida. The railroad had been constructed by 1907 opening Boca Grande up to travelers. In 1912 the hotel opened as part of a joint venture between the railroad’s president and another executive. The hotel takes its name from the legendary Spanish pirate Jose Gaspar, who reputedly plundered the seas in the 18th century. While his very existence and that of his hidden treasure are open to debate, the natural bounty of these waters is indubitable. The inn’s pale yellow exterior and elegant columns exude the essence of “old Florida.” Its tropical colors and motifs lend a casual, seaside atmosphere. Amenities include a Pete Dye-designed 18-hole golf course, beach club, tennis facility, marina, spa, fitness room and heated pool. Boca Grande is situated on a barrier island on Florida’s west coast between Ft. Myers and Sarasota, Fla. The resort is open seasonally from October through mid-June and does not accept credit cards. (149 rooms in the main hotel and guest cottages)

Kelley House, Edgartown, Mass.—The Kelley House opened its doors as a tavern in 1742 and instantly became a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. Over the subsequent decades, the island community grew, developing into a hub of fishing and whaling activity. The tavern prospered and was a welcome respite for generations of weary sailors. For more than 250 years, the Kelley House has continued this tradition of New England hospitality. A complete renovation in 2000 brought back the inn’s original maritime ambiance, complete with seafaring artifacts and artwork. Its classic clapboard exterior and dark wood shutters are hallmarks of 18th century New England architecture. The lobby fireplace and period antiques enhance the inn’s comfortable atmosphere. Continental breakfast, afternoon tea and bedtime treats are included in the room rate. The Kelley House is located near the waterfront in downtown Edgartown on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. It is open seasonally from mid-May through mid-October. (60 guest rooms in five buildings)

The Castle Hill Resort & Spa, Ludlow, Vt.— Tucked in the Green Mountains of Vermont is The Castle Hill Resort, the dream of Alan Fletcher, who served as governor of Vermont from 1912 until 1915. European craftsmen worked for five years to create the elaborate details that give it an authentic old-world ambiance. Fletcher, a timber and quarry magnate, used locally-quarried stone on the façade while intricately carved California redwood and ornamental plasterwork bring warmth and elegance to the interior. Castle Hill was a technical marvel of its time, the first home in the state to be equipped with an elevator and fully wired for electricity. Each floor was outfitted with nickel plated faucets that would accommodate a hose in the event of fire. The home has retained many of Fletcher’s design hallmarks, including the grand staircase, original 1905 wallpaper and decorative woodwork. While guests will enjoy the latest in modern comfort and convenience, the gracious hospitality, fine dining and breathtaking natural beauty that distinguished Castle Hill a century ago remain unchanged. Resort amenities include downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, sleigh rides, golf, tennis, hiking, biking, fly fishing, gondola rides, swimming, fitness classes and spa. (45 guest rooms)

The Ambassador Hotel, Milwaukee—A fixture on the west side of downtown Milwaukee for nearly 80 years, The Ambassador Hotel was designed in 1927 by architects Urban Peacock and Armin Frank. Its gleaming marble floors, stylized sconces, bronze elevator doors and ornate plasterwork, all hallmarks of Art Deco design, made the hotel a favorite spot for society weddings and gatherings. Sadly, the hotel and the surrounding area fell into disrepair during the 1970s and 1980s. The hotel was purchased in 1995 by an alumnus of nearby Marquette University. A slow, painstaking restoration over the next decade totally revamped the hotel’s image. Rooms were reconfigured to allow for more spacious accommodations and gleaming new bathrooms were installed along with vintage radios. Dropped ceilings and drywall were removed to reveal intricate details and archways. The Ambassador’s ambitious effort has served as a cornerstone in the rebirth of the surrounding neighborhood. The hotel is located on the west side of downtown Milwaukee, a few blocks from Marquette University (133 rooms and suites).

A program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Historic Hotels of America is a membership-based 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.


Mary Billingsley 
Historic Hotels of America 

Also See: National Trust Historic Hotels of America Adds Nine Historically and Culturally Rich Hotels / October 2005
Historic Hotels of America Announces 2005 Board of Advisors / January 2005

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