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Top 10 Historic U.S. HotelsJune 24, 2009 By: Meagan Drillinger
In just a few days, the United States will be celebrating its 233rd birthday. To commemorate this year's 4th of July, AAA inspectors have selected their Top Ten Historic Hotels in America.
The following 10 were selected from 65 polled properties:
Boston Omni Parker House Hotel, Boston, MA:
Built in 1855 by Harvey Parker, this hotel claims to be the oldest of Boston's inns. Many notable names have passed through its doors including writers like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other greats include Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and John F. Kennedy.
Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, Denver, CO:
This hotel first opened its doors in 1892. Since then it has seen residents like Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and the Beatles, all of whom have suites named after them. Interesting fact: President Eisenhower, while practicing golf in his room, hit a golf ball at the fireplace mantel causing a dent that still remains there today. Now the hotel is known for its spa, restaurants and tea service.
Casa Marina Resort, Key West, FL:
Part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, this hotel was opened in 1920. It was built by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler with the intention to accommodate wealthy customers of his Overseas Railroad, which was meant to stretch from Key West to the Florida mainland. Unfortunately this goal was never met as Flagler died before construction even began. In 1942 the hotel was purchased by the US Navy and was used to house officers during World War II. During the Cuban Missile Crisis it was used by the Army's Sixth Missile Battalion.
The Dearborn Inn, Dearborn, MI:
Henry Ford built this hotel in 1931 as an accommodation to those flying to Ford Airport. This makes it the country's official first airport hotel. In 1937, five colonial homes were added to the inn, designed as replicas of the homes of Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Barbara Fritchie, Oliver Wolcott and Patrick Henry.
Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, MI:
Located on Michigan's Mackinac Island, this hotel, built in 1887, sits high on a bluff overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. Mark Twain lectured at this hotel in 1895. In keeping with its historic tradition, the only forms of transportation permitted on the island are horse and carriage, walking or bicycles. This ensures that visitors will take in all of the island's historic sites.
The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, TN:
The Hermitage takes the title as Nashville's first million-dollar hotel, built in 1910 and named for Andrew Jackson's Hermitage estate. It was a meeting spot for the city's socialites and often a stop for presidents, actresses, war heroes and gangsters. Its history also includes the headquarters of the state Democratic party.
The Settlers Inn at Pingham Park, Hawley, PA:
This 1927 hotel is located in the lake region of the Poconos. Its rooms are decorated with antiques and stained-glass lamps. Guests can enjoy walks along the Lackawaxen River and dine on local ingredients thanks to the inn's "farm to table" restaurant.
Sir Francis Drake Hotel, San Francisco, CA:
To open a luxury hotel for $5 million would be impossible today. But back in 1928 when this hotel was opened, that was really shelling out the bucks. For that hefty sum, the hotel provided an indoor golf course, ice water on tap and radios in every guest room. Since then, it has become a destination for stars like Elizabeth Taylor, used during wartime for soldiers and still is one of the most popular hotels for weddings. It is also one of the last hotels with rooftop dancing.
West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs, IN:
When it was first opened in 1902, this hotel was referred to as "The Eighth Wonder of the World." These generous words were due to its grand dome, the largest free-spanning dome in the US until 1963, and mineral baths, which were said to cure many ailments.
The Wort Hotel, Jackson, WY:
This Jackson Hole hotel was built in 1941. Visitors to this hotel should check out its famous Silver Dollar Bar, which was built in 1950. The bar was added using 2,032 uncirculated silver dollars from the Federal Reserve in Denver. Gambling has always been illegal in Wyoming, but for a time it was tolerated in resort areas. This resort had gambling from its opening through the 1950s.