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Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 148;
Hotel History: The Gettysburg Hotel, Est. 1797 (1797), Gettysburg, Pennsylvania*

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

The Gettysburg Hotel is located on the site of Scott's Tavern built by James Scott in 1797. A former York County sheriff, William McClellan, acquired the tavern in 1809 and renamed it the Indian Queen. After 1846, the McClellan brothers changed the name to the McClellan House.

During the summer of 1863, the Union victory at Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War, which ended Confederate General Robert E. Lee's second invasion of the North. Gettysburg was the war's bloodiest battle with 51,000 casualties over a brutal three-day period. At the end of the battle, some 22,000 wounded remained on the fields where they fell. Nearby field hospitals, houses, churches and other buildings were inadequate to house and treat these wounded soldiers. On November 19, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln delivered his brilliant Gettysburg address at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery which was completed in March 1864. He had written the speech at the David Wills house across Lincoln Square from the McClellan House doors.

In the 1890s, a new owner replaced the old tavern/inn structure with an imposing building called the Gettysburg Hotel. By the early 1900s, the hotel had electric lights, steam heat, hot and cold baths and a fine restaurant. In 1955, the hotel served as President Dwight Eisenhower's national operations center while he recovered from a heart attack. In 1964, Eisenhower and his wife Mamie were the hotel's last guests before the owner closed its doors. The building became an apartment house until it was ravaged by fire in 1983. The Eisenhowers owned a farm adjacent to the Gettysburg battlefield which served the President as a weekend retreat and a meeting place for world leaders. It is now the Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Through the initiative of the new owner, Gettysburg College, the hotel was carefully restored in cooperation with the Historic Architectural Review Board. Featuring 119 traditionally-appointed guestrooms, the hotel now includes a fitness center, rooftop swimming pool and an old English pub. All suites have fireplaces and whirlpool baths. There's a cannonball from the battle of Gettysburg that's still embedded in the brick wall across the street.

The historic Gettysburg Hotel underwent a multi-million dollar renovation with completion in early 2013, just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Renovations of the 119-room hotel linked the property to its historical past, while allowing it to remain relevant and competitive today. The renovation touches all areas of the hotel including the guestrooms, meeting and banquet space, lobby and the restaurant. Architectural changes introduced a more open lobby space with a fireplace, communal table and added technology that served as both a living room and a gathering space for guests. The existing tavern space was expanded and a new dining experience introduced to hotel guests, visitors to the city, and the local community. The hotel acquired the Gettysburg National Bank building circa 1814, which now provides a magnificent ballroom for weddings, social events and upscale meetings. The Gettysburg Hotel is managed by the Connecticut-based Waterford Hotel Group.

The Gettysburg Hotel is subsidiary of Gettysburg College and is within walking distance of the College's Majestic Theater, as well as the battlefield, attractions, shops and restaurants of the historic town of Gettysburg. The hotel's location and proximity to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Harrisburg and Hershey make it an ideal spot for traveling to a variety of historic sites and places of interest.
*excerpted from my book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013)

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About Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Stanley_Turkel_3.jpgStanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.

Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by The New York Times. His fourth hotel book was described by The New York Times: "Nostalgia for the City's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's...fact-filled...Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf."


Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi is available for purchase from the publisher by visiting

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