A 19th century quote that influenced a 20th Century President

I posted a version of this in 2010 – it is interesting to assess what directions society continues to turn to almost a decade later.

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This framed quote was one of two personal items kept on the desk of Harry S. Truman

 

 

John J Hogan, CHA CMHS CHE CHO

John@Hoganhospitality.com    Office 480-436-0283   Cell 602-799-5375

Hotelier, Speaker, Educator, Author, Expert Witness

Heaven, by Hotel Standards | Observations from a New England Hotelier

People are drawn to hotels.  There’s something about the center of activity in a busy, full service hotel that attracts people from all walks of life globally..

The Parker House hotel in Boston Massachusetts has been open continuously since 1855, and is arguably the oldest continually operating hotel in the United States.

Mark Twain stayed here for a month  in 1877 and he is but one of literally hundreds of celebrities to have made this hotel very well known and appreciated.

Heaven, by Hotel Standards is a book about the history of the Omni Parker House, with information compiled by Susan Wilson.  On page eight of this book,  there’s a wonderful welcome letter from the current general manager, John Murtha, CHA. I had the privilege of meeting John, who is a gracious hotelier.   His letter is sincere and genuine, and  the information about the service of the general managers from 1927 until today helps to demonstrate a longevity and quality of what you seldom find in most brands or hotels today.

In addition to Mark Twain, this book identifies a Who’s Who of celebrities who have been patrons of this hotel   From the age of literature there are writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorn and Longfellow.  From baseball, there are some well known names ranging from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski to David Ortiz.  The hotel has been a center of  of activity in politics with people ranging from Ulysses S Grant, Mayor James Michael Curley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton and most recently, and former Governor Deval Patrick as guests.  Boston has a strong theatrical presence in the theater district and hosted a wide range of prominent actors including John Wilkes Booth (of Lincoln assassination infamy)  Sarah Bernhardt, as well as more contemporary entertainers as Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, James Dean, Stevie Nicks, Yo Yo Ma , Rachel Raye and Ben Affleck.

The hotel itself was built by Harvey Parker, who relocated from his family farm in Maine.  The Parker family arrived in America in the 1630s and Harvey did not want to remain in agriculture.  After number of years in Paris, he arrived in Boston and began his first venture into the hospitality business with a restaurant.  The book does a balanced review, explaining the evolution of the family from the restaurant business and to finding a location for and building what became the Parker house.

The Parker House has had a long time reputation for food and hospitality.  It is credited with creating or perfecting Boston Cream pie, lemon meringue pie, Boston Scrod and of course, the Parker House Rolls.  The book shares an anecdote about Eleanor Roosevelt looking and her request for the recipe, which had been a well kept secret until that request in 1933.

Celebrity chefs at this hotel have included television personalities Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Martha  Stewart who all wanted to link their reputation with that of the well-known Parker House.  There are stories in the book of organic farming from local farms, orchards and dairies 100 years before organic cooking became popular in the rest of the world.

The Saturday Club was a literary discussion group and included Henry David Thoreau, Henry Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, diplomat Charles Francis Adams, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes and many others, who enjoyed the culinary service and hospitality of the Parker house once a month for a number of years.  Charles Dickens resided in the Parker house during his 1867-68 lecture tour.

The Parker house is located  across the street from the old Boston City Hall and  is two blocks from the state capitol.  Every US president from Grant to Clinton stayed at this hotel at some point during their presidency.  The book and movie the Last Hurrah was based on the experiences and activities of longtime mayor James Michael Curley.  The Kennedy family were regular visitors to the hotel and former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neal is pictured in the book’s preface.

There are interesting interviews with longtime staff and stories about the wonderful jazz greats who performed at this hotel over the years. Some of the staff during the  mid 20th century  included Malcolm X and Ho Chi Min, who worked in the kitchens.

The book also discusses the business aspects of the hotel.  In the chapter called Architecturally Speaking, there are detailed explanations of the transitions and how the hotel evolved and maintained its presence.  There were major changes in operations and styles, with a series of owners over a 50 year period.  Downtown Boston today is very successful for hotels, but hotels were not considered to have a good location downtown in the late 1950s through mid seventies and the Parker House suffered. It did recover with the New England Dunfey family acquisition and management, The Parker House today is an example of exceptional hotel keeping with the Omni name and ownership.

Many grand old hotels today have reputations of ghosts, and the Parker House is no exception.  There are amusing stories of possible sightings from hotel founder Harvey Parker to Charles Dickens. We will have to decide for ourselves if this is fact or fiction.

Pages 105 to 107 lists of dozens of well-known names who enjoyed the hospitality of the Parker House from Mohammed Ali to the Who.

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I began my career as a New England hotelier, working in Vermont and Massachusetts, including at the 1500 room Sheraton Boston.   I worked for the Dunfey Hotels when they owned the Parker House and was interviewed for the #2 manager position.   A crisis at the Dunfey Hotel I was managing in Atlanta prevented that transfer, but I do recall the elegance and history of this fine hotel.  I would have enjoyed being part of the history of this fine hotel.

The title of the book is Heaven, By Hotel Standards, and it is certainly an interesting snapshot of successful and innovative Boston hotel keeping over three centuries

Strongly recommended.

John J Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO

HospitalityEducators
Hogan Hospitality

Success does not come by accident or chance.

Contact us for assistance.

Hospitality.jpg

Kathleen Hogan Ireland Sept 2013John J. Hogan CHA CHE CHO and Kathleen Hogan  MBA CHO are the  co-founders of  HospitalityEducators.com, which was created in 2010 to be a resource for hotel owners and professionals as they sought to improve market share, occupancy, operational efficiency and profitability.

The husband and wife team are transitioning the original membership site concept and evolving the business model today to a focused resource offering consulting, training, and individualized support to both hospitality and other service businesses.   Services include keynote addresses workshops, online support, metrics measurement, marketing and customer service from a group of more than a dozen experienced professionals.   While continuing to serve hospitality, the demand for these types of services is growing and can be personalized.

John Hogan is also the principal of HoganHospitality.com, which provides a range of expert professional services for hotel owners, including professional development for organizations, training, consulting and expert witness services.

John Hogan Sept 2013DSCN0215

Contact information:  Kathleen Hogan  480-436-0283,

John Hogan

602-799-5375 or service@hospitalityeducators.com

Workshops Available include: 

From the Chalkboard to the Front Line

What They Don’t Teach You at Hotel School

Focus:

  • Hotel Profitability
  • Hotel Sales
  • Marketing Ideas
  • Hotel Operations

There will always be an ongoing debate on the comparative merits of experience versus the knowledge acquired in formal educational settings.   The best lessons anyone can learn from hotel schools include an awareness of what really occurs on the front line in the actual hospitality setting.  This keynote transitions the academic message to the real world of running a profitable hospitality business.

 Click    here   for Keynotes and Workshops Available 

What does it mean to “do right” ? Ask Mark Twain


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What does it mean to “do right” ?

Mark Twain was the Will Rogers or Jon Stewart of his time.  He was both witty and sarcastic in much of his writing, yet he almost always made one smile.

This framed quote by Twain was one of two personal items kept on the desk of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd US President.  Truman, we recall, had never sought the office and he was pressured into accepting the Vice President spot in 1944.   Unlike today when literally dozens of candidates work for years to even gain a nomination, Truman became an unintentional President.

If you were to read David McCullough’s Pulitzer winning book called simply TRUMAN, you would see that this individual had to deal with literally dozens of issues of the times. Segregation, McCarthyism, the Iron Curtain, the war in Korea, the recognition of Israel, the approval of the United Nations and much more were just some of the controversies he faced. Congress was just as disruptive or partisan as today, or perhaps even more so.

Truman’s approval rating when he left office was near the lowest recorded, yet 50 years later, he is now acknowledged as one of the greatest Presidents. (see footnotes)

What does it mean to “do right” to you? 

In business or politics, there is usually an instinct that is founded on values.  Many of us tend to mistrust politicians, as too many of them have proven to be self serving.

Do the business practices of some airlines seem as ethical as others?    Why have so many of them been forced into bankruptcy when others prosper?

Do the business practices of some retailers, hotel companies, phone or cable companies meet the Twain quote?   You must decide on them, as well as for our own businesses.

Truman may or may not have been appreciated in his career, but his legacy remains intact and actually stronger.

How do we want to be remembered? What are we doing about it to make that happen?

 

John J Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO

HospitalityEducators.com
Hogan Hospitality  

Success does not come by accident or chance.

Contact us for assistance.


John J. Hogan CHA CHE CHO and Kathleen Hogan  MBA CHO are the  co-founders of  HospitalityEducators.com, which was created in 2010 to be a resource for hotel owners and professionals as they sought to improve market share, occupancy, operational efficiency and profitability.

The husband and wife team are transitioning the original membership site concept and evolving the business model today to a focused resource offering consulting, training, and individualized support to both hospitality and other service businesses.   Services include keynote addresses workshops, online support, metrics measurement, marketing and customer service from a group of more than a dozen experienced professionals.   While continuing to serve hospitality, the demand for these types of services is growing and can be personalized.

John Hogan is also the principal of HoganHospitality.com, which provides a range of expert professional services for hotel owners, including professional development for organizations, training, consulting and expert witness services.

Contact information:  Kathleen Hogan  480-436-0283,

John Hogan 602-799-5375 or service@hospitalityeducators.com

Workshops Available include: 

From the Chalkboard to the Front Line

What They Don’t Teach You at Hotel School

Focus:

  • Hotel Profitability
  • Hotel Sales
  • Marketing Ideas
  • Hotel Operations

There will always be an ongoing debate on the comparative merits of experience versus the knowledge acquired in formal educational settings.   The best lessons anyone can learn from hotel schools include an awareness of what really occurs on the front line in the actual hospitality setting.  This keynote transitions the academic message to the real world of running a profitable hospitality business.

 Click    here   for Keynotes and Workshops Available 

 

footnotes

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