Omni Parker House

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Omni Parker House Hotel
Omni Parker House hotel in October 2010
Hotel chain Omni Hotels
General information
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Address 60 School Street
Opening 1855 (original hotel), 1927 (current building)
Management Omni Hotels
Other information
Number of rooms 551

Built in 1927, the Omni Parker House is a historic hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. The original Parker House Hotel opened on the site on October 8, 1855, making it the longest continuously operating hotel in the United States. Founder Harvey D. Parker ran the hotel until his death in 1884, when the business passed on to his partners. Omni Parker House, Boston, is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[1]


19th century[edit]

The second incarnation of the early Parker House. The two buildings on the right are from 1866, eleven years after opening.

Opened in 1855 by Harvey D. Parker and located on School Street near the corner of Tremont, not far from the seat of the Massachusetts state government, the hotel has long been a rendezvous for politicians.[2]

The hotel was home to the Saturday Club, which met on the fourth Saturday of every month, except during July, August, and September. The Saturday Club included literary luminaries such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and John Lothrop Motley.

Charles Dickens resided in the Parker House for five months in 1867-1868 in his own apartments; he first recited and performed "A Christmas Carol" for the Saturday Club at the Parker House.[3] The Parker House currently holds possession of the door to Dickens' guest room when he stayed in 1867 and the mirror used by him for rehearsals.

The hotel introduced to America what became known as the European Plan. Prior to that time, American hotels had included meals in the cost of a room, and only offered them at set times. The Parker House charged only for the room, with meals charged separately and offered whenever the guest chose.[2]

Actor John Wilkes Booth stayed at the hotel April 5–6, 1865, eight days before assassinating Abraham Lincoln. He was apparently in Boston to see his brother, actor Edwin Booth, who was performing there. While in Boston, Booth was seen practicing at a firing range near the Parker House.[2]

The Parker House created Massachusetts’ state dessert, Boston cream pie;[2] invented the Parker House roll; and coined the term "scrod."

Jacques Offenbach stayed at the hotel during an 1876 tour of the U.S., and, inspired by the rolls, sang a tune to friends as a joke. He would later use it as a theme in his opera, The Tales of Hoffmann.[2]

20th century[edit]

The Parker House in 1910, showing a later extension, with the earlier wings behind it on the left.

The original Parker House building and later architectural additions were demolished in the 1920s and replaced with an entirely new building. "Four of the five buildings Harvey D. Parker built between 1854 and 1866 were demolished in 1926 by the Whipple Hotel Co., which had earlier purchased the property from Parker's partners."[4] One wing of the original hotel remained open until the new building was completed in 1927. This wing is still in use.[5]

John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for Congress at the Parker House in 1946 and also held his bachelor party in the hotel's Press Room there in 1953.[2]

The hotel was bought by Dunfey Hotels in 1968.[6] In 1983, that chain bought Omni Hotels and reorganized itself, with the Dunfey name phased out and the Parker House placed in the Omni division.[7]

21st century[edit]

The hotel currently has 551 rooms and suites.[8] In 2009, AAA named the hotel one of the top 10 historic U.S. hotels.[9] The Omni Parker House is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America program.

Famous workers[edit]

Ho Chi Minh worked as a baker at the hotel from 1912 to 1913. Malcolm X, then going by the name Malcolm Little, worked as a busboy at the hotel in the 1940s.[2]

In literature and music[edit]

Edith Wharton included a private meeting between characters Mr. Newland Archer and Countess Ellen Olenska at the Parker House in her celebrated work of the early 20th century, The Age of Innocence.[10] Archer is told that the Countess Olenska is staying in Boston at the Parker House, and he flees Newport to meet her there.[11]

Although many "haunting" books and “ghost tours” claim that Stephen King's 1999 short story 1408—about a writer who experiences a haunted stay at a New York hotel called the Dolphin—was based on Room 303 of the Parker House hotel and the supernatural events surrounding the room, that claim is false.

The 2011 Grammy award winning Parker Quartet, both founded and currently based in Boston, is named after the hotel.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Omni Parker House, Boston, a Historic Hotels of America member". Historic Hotels of America. Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g
  3. ^ Payne, Edward F. Dickens' Days in Boston: A Record of Daily Events. Cambridge, MA: Riverside, 1927, p. 231.
  4. ^ Ask the Globe. Boston Globe, Aug 7, 1987
  5. ^ "Boston's Literary Hotel". Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ International Directory of Company Histories 12, St. James Press, 1996 – via Boston Public Library Reference & Reader's Advisory Department 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "AAA Inspectors Pick Their Top Ten Historic Hotels for Independence Day". press release. American Automobile Association. 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Wharton, Age of Innocence, p. 147
  12. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′29.50″N 71°03′35.07″W / 42.3581944°N 71.0597417°W / 42.3581944; -71.0597417