HEAVEN, BY HOTEL STANDARDS: The History of the Omni Parker House

The Parker House circa 1900

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven, By Hotel Standards is a delightfully anecdotal and lavishly illustrated new book by Susan Wilson. The Omni Parker House has played an integral role in the history of Boston since 1855. In the culinary world, it’s been heralded as the home of the Parker House Roll and Boston Cream Pie–and a place where Ho Chi Minh, Malcolm X, and Emeril Lagasse once worked in the kitchens. It’s where the brightest lights of America’s Golden Age of Literature–writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Longfellow–regularly met in the legendary Saturday Club, where world-class musicians and theatricians have been inspired and nurtured, and where generations of local and national politicians assembled for private meetings, press conferences, and power breakfasts.

Author Susan Wilson

When not working as the official House Historian for the Omni Parker House, Susan spends her time as a writer, photographer, lecturer, educator and consultant. Susan is also the author of Boston Sites and Insights, The Literary Trail of Greater Boston and many other history books.

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Susan with the Winikers: They were the house band at the Parker House for 14 years

Susan with Thomas P O'Neill III: This illustrious Bostonian wrote the preface to the book

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Susan with two Dunfeys--the family that brought the Parker House into the modern day

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The Fife is Right 2014: Musical Boston

The Fife is Right: The 9th Annual Old South History Challenge.

This year’s theme: Musical Boston!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014  7 -9 PM

Beloved photographer, author, and historian Susan Wilson serves as Master of Ceremonies and Quizmaster for this laugh-while-you-learn annual event.

Join us for a pitch-perfect evening of up-tempo trivia, harmonious history, all building up to a crescendo of laughs!

Historian and quizmaster Susan Wilson and the Old South Meeting House staff will challenge two teams of experts in a live-action game show exploring the musical history of our melodious city. From Beantown-bred singers to songs about the Hub and much more, this year’s competition will have feet tapping and brains stumped!

Our teams cannot win “a cappella”-they’ll need you to accompany them! Waltz your way into the program with a correct answer and hear a cheerful tune, and beware the discordant incorrect answer. This isn’t your average pub trivia! Our game show provides all the background and information with our answers so that you leave an expert!

Why is it called The Fife is Right? Because you’ll hear the cheery tune on fife if the team answers a question correctly, of course! (How else could Boston’s famous 1729 colonial gathering place signal a correct answer?!)

Tickets are $15 each; $5 for OSMH Members (with code).

Tickets are available athttp://Fifeis Right2014.bpt.me or by calling (800) 838-3006.

 


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Boston Women’s Memorial: A Story in Images

Statues of Lucy Stone, Abigail Adams, and Phillis Wheatley

 

On the Fairfield-Gloucester stretch of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston’s Back Bay is the first sculpture on this parkland to celebrate women’s accomplishments. Beginning in 1993, representatives from the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, City Hall, the Boston Women’s Commission, the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, and other interested parties met, processed, planned, fundraised, and consciousness-raised for this project.
The women selected for the monument were three Boston writers who had progressive ideas and a commitment to social change: enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), feminist editor Lucy Stone (1818-1893), and revolutionary-era scribe, Abigail Adams (1744-1818).

Sculptor Meredith Bergmann with Abigail Adams

Like the women depicted, sculptor Meredith Bergmann broke from eighteenth and nineteenth century tradition by making the memorial engaging and interactive, and placing the women in and around—rather than on—their respective pedestals.

What's going on here? Watch the video to find out.

 

Melodic Vision’s Susan Wilson was a board member of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail during this period. Week after week throughout the process, she visited the site with cameras in hand, chronicling the process through its formal dedication on October 23, 2003, and even into the winter months that followed.

This seven-minute video, commissioned by Mary Smoyer and the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, was created by Melodic Vision to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Boston Women’s Memorial.

A public celebration will be held at the site on Sunday, October 27, 2013, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Taking a break with Phillis Wheatley

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SUSAN WILSON NAMED HOUSE HISTORIAN FOR THE OMNI PARKER HOUSE

I am thrilled to announce that I have been named the official “House Historian” for Boston’s oldest continuously operating hotel, the Omni Parker House.

The OPH, as many of you know, has played an integral part in the history of Boston. In the culinary world, it’s been heralded as the home of the Parker House Roll and Boston Cream Pie—and a place where Ho Chi Minh, Malcolm X, and Emeril Lagasse once worked in the kitchens.

The Parker House was where the brightest lights of America’s Golden Age of Literature—writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Longfellow—regularly met in the legendary Saturday Club. At the Parker House, baseball greats like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and David Ortiz wined, dined, and unwound, while generations of local and national politicians—including Ulysses S. Grant, James Michael Curley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Colin Powell, William Jefferson Clinton, and Deval Patrick—assembled for private meetings, press conferences, and power breakfasts.

But there’s no need for me to tell all this to you now… since it’s in the book.

What book, you ask?

For more than twenty years, I have been researching and writing about the Parker House, starting with my “Sites and Insights” column (and my book by the same name) which ran in the Boston Globe from 1987-1993. Over the years I have written and photographed various pieces about or for the Parker House, as well as done TV shows, tours, and lectures on their fascinating past and present. A year ago, I began working on the ultimate culmination of all these years of study: a brand new volume of images and stories, with the working title, Heaven, By Hotel Standards: The History of the Omni Parker House.

Once the new book is published in 2104, I hope to be working on a variety of other projects with the Omni Parker, including telling these stories through a variety of new technologies and media and helping them further develop the mini-museum of images and artifacts now growing downstairs next to their fitness center.

Stay tuned. This should be a great ride!
–Susan Wilson

 

 

 

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CELEBRATE!

Happy 4th of July!

WATCH AND ENJOY!



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Marathon Memorial

The dreadful Boston Marathon bombings occurred two weeks ago today.  Last Friday we visited the ever growing memorials in Copley Square and were moved to create this commemoration.

We invite you to take a moment to watch this video and remember those suffering from the pain and loss of violence, both here and around the world.

Marathon Memorial

Photos by Susan Wilson; Bell Sound Engineering by Rebecca Strauss; ”Battle Hymn of the Republic”  performed by Jacqueline Schwab & Rebecca Strauss

 

 

 

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Nature’s Cathedral Clip

Okay folks, here it is, a real sample of the photos and music together for Melodic Vision’s work-in-progress, Nature’s Cathedral.  ENJOY!

Nature’s Cathedral Clip

Music by Patricia VanNess; Performed by violists: Joan Ellersick, Dimitar Petkov, Jenny Stirling, Rebecca Strauss

Photos by Susan Wilson

 

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A Moment to Remember

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. Unfortunately, it is also the sixth day since the Senate failed to pass the expansion of background checks on handguns.  Every day in the US, countless people are murdered by guns (We’re still reeling from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, CT, this past December). How can we forget the numbers of people hurt and killed by bombs, shot guns, semi-automatics and more? Why do some of our fellow citizens and legislators stand for it?  Melodic Vision would like to go on record as saying that guns are NOT the answer.

We invite you all to take a moment of silence for those suffering from the pain and loss of violence, both here and around the world, and then soak in the beauty of the music and images below.  Photos and music are from Melodic Vision’s work-in-progress, Nature’s Cathedral.

LISTEN to an excerpt from Melodic Vision’s Nature’s Cathedral

Natures Cathedral Short 4_22_13

  • Music by Patricia VanNess
  • Performed by violists:
  • Joan Ellersick, Dimitar Petkov,
  • Jenny Stirling, Rebecca Strauss
  • Photos by Susan Wilson

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Another Moment of Peace

Melodic Vision invites you to take a moment to remember those killed, injured and terrorized in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing, ongoing chase. Take a moment during this crazy day to soak in the beauty of the images and music from Melodic Vision’s work-in-progress, Nature Relaxation.

LISTEN to an excerpt from Melodic Vision’s Nature Relaxation

NatureRelaxationShortest

Music by Mozart

Performed by Heidi Braun-Hill and Heather Braun, violin

Rebecca Strauss, viola, and Rafael Popper-Keizer, cello

Photos by Susan Wilson 2013


 

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A Moment of Peace

Photo from Nature's Cathedral

 

Melodic Vision invites you to take a moment to remember those killed and injured in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings and to soak in the beauty of the images and music below.

Listen to an excerpt from Melodic Vision’s Nature’s Cathedral

NaturesCathedralShortSample

Music by Patricia VanNess

Performed by violists: Joan Ellersick, Dimitar Petkov, Jenny Stirling, Rebecca Strauss

 

 

Photo from Nature's Cathedral

All photos by Susan Wilson 2013

 

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