April 2023 Insider | Preservation Month
April 17, 2023 | DEI
Throughout the early 1900s, National and State Parks were being developed all over the country. As the parks grew in popularity, lodging, and other accommodations became needed to provide guests with the best possible experience. Today, many of these parks and their facilities still stand as symbols of an era long gone, providing a glimpse into the past for visitors and guests alike. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, Guest Services has the privilege of operating many hotels that offer a fascinating historical perspective while still providing modern amenities and unparalleled hospitality. In honor of National Preservation Month, we would like to highlight some of our most storied destinations.
Bear Mountain Inn
Located in Bear Mountain State Park, New York, Bear Mountain Inn was constructed in 1915 using all-natural materials. It was declared one of the finest examples of rustic Adirondack architecture in America by The American Architect. Over the years, the Inn has hosted famous dignitaries, entertainers, and sports teams such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and New York Knickerbockers. The hotel closed for six years in 2005 for extensive renovations and now features 15 luxury guest rooms and suites, along with over 20,000 square feet of flexible event space.
National Park Inn
In 1883, James Longmire and William Packwood discovered mineral hot springs near Mount Rainier while exploring the area to develop a main route from Puget Sound to Mount Rainier. Longmire filed a claim and constructed a small cabin, which was later expanded to become the first tourist Inn on Mount Rainier. The Inn offered mineral baths, mud baths, and sulfur plunges, which were reputed to have curative powers.
In 1916, the Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) was founded, obtained a 20-year concession contract, and purchased the Longmire family buildings for $12,000. The company intended to market the hot springs but was prohibited by the Park Service when the waters were tested and proved to have no medicinal value. RNPC decided to burn down the old Longmire Springs Hotel and move an annex next to the National Park Inn. A fire completely destroyed the original National Park Inn in 1926, but the annex was untouched. The annex exists today as the National Park Inn.
Located in the southwest corner of the park, Paradise is aptly named as there are few locations within the entire national park system that are as stunning. In early 1895, a coffee shop called the Paradise Hotel and a tent camp were established, providing services to the ever-increasing numbers of people visiting the area. In 1898, John L. Reese combined the two operations and named it Camp of the Clouds.
As the need increased for a hotel and other services in the Paradise area, a corporation of local Tacoma businessmen formed the Rainier National Park Company (RNPC) and began construction of the Paradise Inn. John Reese sold his camp to RNPC in 1916 to house construction crews as they worked on the new first-class Paradise Inn. In spite of the short construction season, the crew nearly completed the Paradise Inn during the summer of 1916 at an initial cost of $91,000, not including furnishings or equipment.
Over the next century, the park and area developed gradually, welcoming bigger crowds every year. In spite of the many changes, Paradise Inn remains in its grand old state, barely changed from the 1920s when travelers came looking for a place to stay amidst the great beauty of grandeur of Mount Rainier.
De Leon Springs State Park
From its origins as a sacred place for the Timucua Native Americans to the present-day De Leon Springs State Park, this enchanting location has inspired its visitors for generations. In 1570, the Spanish established a Franciscan mission in the area, followed by English and American settlements in the 1800s. The Spring Garden Inn was built in 1925 and became a popular destination for tourists, while the nearby Fountain of Youth attraction opened in 1949. In 1982, the state of Florida purchased the land and created De Leon Springs State Park, which offers swimming, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.
The Lodge at Wakulla Springs
The Lodge at Wakulla Springs, located in northern Florida, has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. The natural springs were famously used as a filming location for several Tarzan movies. In 1937, the current lodge was built, which quickly became a popular destination for celebrities and politicians. During World War II, the lodge was used as a training facility for soldiers and later as a rehabilitation center for veterans. Today, the lodge is a National Historic Landmark and offers guests a chance to experience the history and natural beauty of Wakulla Springs.
Big Sur Lodge
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is named after John Pfeiffer, son of Michael Pfeiffer and Barbara Laquet, who were amongst the first European settlers in the area. Big Sur Lodge is a historic hotel located in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, surrounded by redwood forests and scenic mountains. The lodge has been welcoming guests since 1949, originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a campsite for workers building the nearby highway. In the 1950s, the lodge was expanded to accommodate guests and became a popular vacation spot for families, artists, and writers. The lodge has survived several natural disasters, including a major fire in 2008, and was restored to its original design. Today, the lodge offers guests comfortable accommodations with a rustic feel and easy access to nearby hiking trails and natural attractions.