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  • Writer's pictureRich Honiball

Today in #Brand History: The Modern Hotel

In 1829, the Tremont Hotel, considered to be the first modern hotel in the US, opened in Boston. The Tremont Hotel (sometimes referred to as the Tremont House), opened on the corner of Tremont and Beacon Streets, was a site of offering is guests several firsts including a reception area, bellboys, indoor plumbing, guest rooms that had individual locks, and even free soap. Designed by architect Isaiah Rogers (who later designed the Astor House in New York City), the building was a four-store, granite-faced, neoclassical building based on popular principles of Grecian architecture.

The hotel came about Boston, like all other American cities, had no large and comfortable hotel. The only suitable accommodations at the time, the Exchange Coffee House, had burned down in in 1818 and anyone traveling to the city had to rely on inns and taverns where a single room was not available and even a single bed was a luxury.

The 1824-1825 Massachusetts legislative session authorized a company to construct one or more buildings to be used as a public hotel to attract more people to Boston. The plan, provide a loan of up to $100,000 at 3% interest payable in ten years upon completion of the hotel, however, no one stepped forward. In 1828, a group of merchants including William Ebot, Samuel Eliot, Thomas Perkins, James Perkins and Andrew Belknap took matters into their own hands, raised the money, and celebrated the opening of their new hotel with a celebratory dinner, attended by the mayor of Boston at the time, Josiah Quincy. The top Boston gentlemen feasted on a meal of roast beef, boiled cod, pears and grapes.

The Tremont also celebrated another first. During the 19th century, it was considered socially unacceptable for women to dine alone in the public rooms of the hotels. In response, the Tremont was among the first to open a women-only dining room that they referred to as the “Ladies’ Ordinary.” The hotel hosted some of the most distinguished visitors to the city of Boston until its closure in 1894, including Charles Dickens, President Andrew Jackson, President John Tyler, Daniel Webster, and Davy Crockett. But by that time, it had inspired other hotels of its kind to open across the country.

Curious as to the first hotel chain to open in the US? Some would argue that it was the Quality Courts United, a non-profit association of seven properties that came together in 1939 (and is today known as Choice Hotels). Though the Statler Hotel, first opened in Buffalo in 1901 opened its second location in 1907 and soon expanded to Cleveland and beyond. His was the first to offer a bathroom in every room, clean and moderately priced for the average traveler. The opening price was as low as $1.50 per room, leading to the slogan “A Room and a Bath for a Dollar and a Half.”

Now this will be an interested segment to explore.


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