Richard C. Kessler

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Richard C. Kessler
Known forChairman and CEO of hotel companies

Richard C. Kessler is an entrepreneur in the field of hotel development and operations. Kessler has been Chairman and CEO of The Kessler Enterprise, Inc. since 1984. He is also Former Chairman, President and CEO, Days Inn of America, Inc. and Former Chairman of Lutheran Brotherhood.

In 1984, Kessler founded The Kessler Enterprise which consists of several wholly owned subsidiaries consisting of development and operational companies. Some of these projects include The Kessler Collection of themed hotels and resorts, the 500-acre Silverwood Plantation residential community, the 1,000-acre Georgia North International Industrial Park, and commercial land developments.

Personal history[edit]

Kessler was born in Savannah, Georgia and is a descendant of the Salzburgers,[1] a group of Lutherans from Bavaria who came to America in 1732 seeking religious freedom.

Kessler holds bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial engineering and operations research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is married to Martha Jane Wilson of Durham, N.C. The couple has two grown children, Mark and Laura, and three grandchildren.

At the age of 23, Kessler became the right hand to real estate developer Cecil B. Day and help found Days Inn of America in August 1970.[2][vague] From 1972 to 1975, Kessler founded and led five real estate development and operational companies. In May 1975, at age 29, Kessler became President and CEO of Days Inns, and one year later, Chairman.[2] The chain was sold in 1984 and Kessler began his own independent ventures.[3]

Kessler Collection Hotels[edit]

The Kessler Collection owns, operates and creates hotels, each with its own unique theme. All of the hotels are part of the Marriott Autograph Collection Hotels marketing program, central reservation system and national sales, public relations offices, and technical services [4]

Past developments[edit]

  • Days Inn Resort & Suites / Sheraton Safari Resort, Orlando, FL – Developed as a themed hotel in 1995; sold December 1996
  • Sheraton Studio City Hotel, Orlando, FL – Renovated and opened June 1999; sold August 2007
  • Kehoe House Bed & Breakfast, Savannah, GA – Renovated and opened October 2003; sold June 2007 [5]


New Ebenezer Retreat & Conference Center[edit]

Kessler is the Founder and Chairman of the New Ebenezer Retreat and Conference Center in New Ebenezer, Georgia. Founded in 1736, the township of New Ebenezer was settled by a group of Lutheran Salzburgers seeking a new beginning and a place of religious freedom. Much of the town was destroyed by the British during the Revolutionary War and later by Union soldiers in the Civil War. In 1972 Kessler spearheaded efforts to rebuild the essence of the town.[6] New Ebenezer, has been reconstructed to resemble the original 1700’s township. The new Ebenezer Retreat and Conference Center has space for group meetings of up to 400 people opening summer of 1976. Each year 25,000 guests can participate in tennis, swimming, canoeing, volleyball, basketball, and hiking.[7] Kessler retired from the Board after serving 30 years as Chairman.

Treutlen House at New Ebenezer[edit]

Kessler spearheaded the founding of the Treutlen House at New Ebenezer in New Ebenezer, Georgia, 20 miles north of Savannah, Georgia. Opened in 2000, adjacent to the site of the first organized orphanage in America, Treutlen House provides care, housing, support, and guidance to abused children. Initially, the program’s live-in facility housed 10 children.[8]

Kessler New Ebenezer Trust[edit]

Kessler established the Kessler New Ebenezer Trust in 1984 with funds in excess of $1 million.[9] The trust continues to support the conference center, the Treutlen House, and its programming and related activities.

Georgia Tech Plaza / The Campanile[edit]

In the early 1990s, Kessler led the committee effort which designed and created the "Tech Plaza" in the heart of Georgia Tech's campus. He then commissioned the Kessler Campanile, a $450,000 carillon created by Atlanta artist Richard Hill. The 80 foot, stainless steel high tech tower is positioned in a 100-inch diameter fountain and an assortment of 100 different songs chime on the quarter-hour.[10]

During the 1996 Olympics, the set of NBC’s "Today Show" was centered directly in front of the Campanile, providing international exposure.[11] Today, the Kessler Campanile is used by Georgia Tech as their 21st Century Logo.

The Kessler Reformation Collection[edit]

Kessler chairs the Committee for the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection, an assembly of over 3,600 pieces of rare works, all dating pre-1570.[1] in Pitts Theology Library, on the campus of Atlanta’s Emory University. It is one of the largest theological libraries in the United States with nearly 130,000 items in the rare book and archive collection alone. Kessler founded the collection in November, 1987, and funded its growth in partnership with Emory University. Considered a national treasure[by whom?], the collection boasts many one-of-a-kind pieces and is a valuable resource for churches and religious scholars. It holds the largest collection in the U.S. of 1,000 pieces of original writings of Martin Luther.

Kessler scholarships[edit]

The Kessler family has established the following scholarships for outstanding professionals and students:


  1. ^ a b "The Georgia Salzburger Society". Archived from the original on 2013-10-09. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  2. ^ a b GA Tech Alumn. Association 2001
  3. ^ Mervine 2007 pg. 24
  4. ^ "Autograph Collection Hotels". Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  5. ^ United States. "History of The Kehoe House". Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  6. ^ Elliott 1998 pg. 5
  7. ^ Archived from the original on March 18, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ "Treutlen House Residential Facility for Children and Youth". Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  9. ^ "New Ebenezer Family Retreat And Conference Center Support Trust in Orlando, Florida (FL)". Retrieved 2013-11-07.
  10. ^ Georgia Tech 1996 pg. 67
  11. ^ Tang 2001
  12. ^ "Pace Academy ~Kessler Award". Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  13. ^ Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "Orlando Arts and Theater: Covering the Orlando theater, arts, classical music, dance, and visual arts with reviews and listings -". Archived from the original on 2012-07-07. Retrieved 2013-09-05.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mervin, Bob. "Art for the Art's Sake." Executive Living. April–May 2007. Pg. 20-24.
  • Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine Summer 1996
  • Wittish, Rich. From Marbles to Mansions. Savannah Magazine July/August 2004 pg. 58-63
  • McKechnie, Gary and Howell, N. Kessler's Kingdom. Orlando Magazine April 1997 pg. 66-67
  • Salter, Salley. The Atlanta Journal. Richard Kessler: Business Man with a Sense of History. March 24, 1986. Section C.
  • Rauen, Stacy S. Hospitality Design. Perspectives Interview: Richard Kessler. July 2011. Pg. 69-70.
  • Elliott, Daniel T. "Effingham County's Historical Archaeological Resources."