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Lieutenant Colonel George Washington was known to frequent many taverns that sprung up on School Street; two colonial-era buildings still stand—King's Chapel, a rough-hewn granite church completed in 1754, and Old Corner Bookstore building, constructed in 1718 as an apothecary.
With remodeled 551 rooms and 21 suites, The Omni Parker House enters its third century.
The concept of a "hotel" is a fairly recent one. In colonial Boston, travelers found rest and refreshment not in hotels or motels, but at local taverns and inns. Women were rarely on road, so colonial males usually frequented roadside taverns. They often even shared beds after quaffing pints of colonial beer. I guess after too many pints they began foment for freedom and rise of a radical cause—Independence.
The earlier hotels were known as "houses." As more travelers arrived in Boston by coach or ship, lodging and dining houses bore patriotic names like American House, The Shawmut, Adams, and The Revere House. The resident houses were genteel and sometimes luxurious, and some began to even accommodated ladies!
In midst of this period of expansion and change, a 20-year-old farm boy named Harvey D. Parker arrived in Boston Harbor on a packet from Maine. The year was 1825, and with less than one dollar in his satchel, he was in immediate need of employment. His first job was as a caretaker for a horse and cow, which gave him eight dollars a month. Then as a coachman for a wealthy Watertown woman, he was set up on his career path.
Whenever Parker trotted horse-drawn coach into Boston, his noon meal was at a dark, cellar café on Court Square, owned by John E. Hunt. By 1832, ambitious Parker bough Hunt's café for $432, and renamed it Parker's Restaurant. A combination of excellent food and service won over a regular clientele of businessmen, lawyers, and newspapermen. By 1854 he embarked on a grander enterprise.
His plan was to build a new, first class hotel and restaurant at School Street base of Beacon Hill, just down road from domed Massachusetts State House. Parker purchased former Mico Mansion and razed decrepit boarding house. In its place, Parker built an ornate, five story, Italianate-style stone and brick hotel, faced with gleaming white marble. The first and second floors featured arched windows, while marble steps led from sidewalk to marble foyer within. Once inside, thick carpets and fashionable horsehair divans completed an air of elegance. Above front door, an engraved sign read simply, "Parker's." Even visiting British author Charles Dickens marveled at splendor of Boston's finest new hotel. To read this entire feature FREE with photos cut and paste this link: http://www.jetsettersmagazine.com/archive/jetezine/hotels/omni/parker/house.html
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