The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection

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Discover the Mayflower Hotel, Autograph collection, which has been a cherished symbol of grandeur, style and history in Washington, D.C. since 1925.

The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection was constructed during the “Roaring Twenties,” in which flappers, the radio, and the Art Deco movement defined the age.

Built in 1925, the Mayflower set the standard for elegance and beauty and was quickly considered the “Grand Dame” of luxury hotels among Washington society. When its doors opened, the property had more gold leaf than any other building in the country (save the Library of Congress). Such rich, regal detailing quickly qualified the Mayflower for true presidential importance—every inaugural ball since Calvin Coolidge has been held in the Mayflower′s Grand Ballroom, and the hotel′s rooms and restaurants were fixtures along Washington′s powerful political circuit. FDR used the Mayflower as a retreat to work on his 1933 inaugural address, Harry Truman resided here for the first 90 days of his presidential term—even FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover lunched at the Mayflower nearly every day he was in town. Celebrities, royalty and dignitaries from around the world have been guests of the hotel, including Queen Elizabeth II, John Wayne, Barbra Streisand, Arnold Palmer, Muhammed Ali and many others.

The Depression and World War II ushered in many changes at the grand hotel and the property underwent several remodelings by new owners, covering the hotel′s exquisite gilding, murals, skylights and carvings in ""modernization"" efforts. Carefully executed renovation in the early 1990s reintroduced the more distinct, historic details and also uncovered two large Edward Lanning murals and a 25-foot skylight blacked out during World War II. Today, many years and several millions of dollars later, The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection has been restored to its original splendor, a prestigious landmark and celebrated tribute to the grandeur, style and history that characterize our nation′s capital.

  • Famous Historic Guests +

    "Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States. Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the United States. Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom. John Wayne, American actor, filmmaker and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barbra Streisand, renowned singer and actress, who has won two Academy Awards and ten Grammys. Arnold Palmer, American professional golfer. Muhammed Ali, American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist."

Image of Historian Stanley Turkel, Historic Hotels of America Image of Stanley Turkel's Book Built To Last: 100 Year Old Hotels East of the Mississippi, Historic Hotels of America.

Guest Historian Series

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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 202;

Hotel History: Mayflower Hotel (1925), Washington, D.C.

By Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. opened on February 18, 1925 with 440 guestrooms. It is known as the “Grande Dame of Washington”, the “Hotel of Presidents” and as the city’s “Second Best Address” (the White House is the first).

The Mayflower Hotel was built by Allen E. Walker who planned to name it The Hotel Walker. He retained Warren & Wetmore, architects who had designed New York’s Commodore, Biltmore, Ambassador Ritz-Carlton and Vanderbilt Hotels. The supervising architect was Robert F. Beresford who had worked for the Supervising Architect of the Treasury and the Superintendent of the Capitol. When Walker sold his interest to C.C. Mitchell & Company, the new owners changed the name to the Mayflower Hotel in honor of the 300th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.

The Mayflower Hotel’s guest suites had a sitting room, dining room, bath and up to seven bedrooms. Some had kitchenettes and drawing rooms with fireplaces. The hotel offered amenities unmatched by any other hotel in the United States. This included air conditioning in all the public rooms and ice water and fans in all guestrooms. Services included daily maid service, a laundry, a barber shop, a beauty salon, a garage, a telephone switchboard, and a small hospital staffed by a doctor. The Mayflower featured three restaurants and a Grand Ballroom with a proscenium stage.

In 1925, an Annex to the Mayflower was built with a Presidential Suite and a Vice Presidential Suite. The second through eighth floors of the Annex contained guest suites each with five bedrooms and baths. The first floor of the Annex was occupied by the Mayflower Coffee Shop, a vastly expanded version of he original small café located on the ground floor of the existing hotel. The basement of the Annex was occupied by a huge laundry which served the original hotel and annex.

After the Great Depression and World War II, the Hilton Hotels Corporation purchased the Mayflower Hotel in December 1946. They owned and operated it for ten years when they acquired the Statler Hotels chain. They were forced to sell the Mayflower when the government filed an anti-trust action against Hilton.

From 1956 to 2015, the Mayflower Hotel was acquired by a variety of owners including the Hotel Corporation of America, May-Wash Associates, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Stouffer Corporation, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott International, Walton Street Capital and the Rockwood Capital Company.

The Mayflower Hotel hosted the Inaugural Ball of President Calvin Coolidge just two weeks after its opening. It hosted an Inaugural Ball every four years until it hosted its final ball in January 1981. President-elect Herbert Hoover established his presidential team offices in the hotel in January1928, and his Vice President, Charles Curtis, lived there in one of the hotel’s residential guest rooms during his four years in office. Louisiana Senator Huey Long also lived at the Mayflower, taking eight suites in the hotel from January 25, 1932, to March 1934. President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt spent March 2 and 3 in Suites 776 and 781 at the Mayflower Hotel before his inauguration on March 4, 1932.

Two events of significance during World War II happened at the Mayflower. In June 1942, George John Dasch and seven other spies from Nazi Germany entered the United States after being transported to American shores via a submarine. Their goal, named Operation Pastorius, was to engage in sabotage against key U.S. infrastructure. But after encountering a United States Coast Guard patrol moments after landing, Dasch decided the plan was useless. On June 19, 1942, he checked into Room 351 at the Mayflower Hotel and promptly betrayed his comrades. Eighteen months later, a committee of the American Legion met in Room 570 at the Mayflower Hotel from December 15 to 31, 1943, to draft legislation to assist returning military members reintegrate into society. Their proposed legislation, the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944- known informally as the G.I. Bill- was put into final draft on Mayflower Hotel stationery.

Twice, the Mayflower has been the site where a U.S. presidential campaign was launched, and twice it hosted events which proved to be turning points in a presidential nomination. In March 1931, Franklin D. Roosevelt was vying with Alfred Smith for the Democratic presidential nomination of 1932. John J. Raskob, chair of Democratic National Committee (DNC), opposed Roosevelt’s candidacy. Knowing that Roosevelt had privately committed to repealing Prohibition but had not done so publicly, Raskob attempted to force the DNC, then meeting at the Mayflower Hotel, to adopt a “wet” (or repeal) plank in the party platform. Instead of drawing Roosevelt out, the maneuver deeply offended Southern “dry” (anti-repeal) Democrats who abandoned Smith and threw their support to the allegedly more moderate Roosevelt, and helped him secure the nomination. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman told a cheering audience of Young Democrats of America at a dinner at the Mayflower on May 14 that he intended to seek re-election in 1948. Former Peace Corps and Office of Economic Opportunity director Sargent Shriver announced his run for President of the United States at the Mayflower on September 20, 1975. A more successful campaign began there when Senator Barack Obama locked down the 2008 Democratic nomination for President on June 3, 2008. Hillary Clinton conceded the nomination to Obama on June 7, and introduced Obama to about 300 of her leading contributors at a meeting at the Mayflower on June 26, 2008.


About Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Stanley Turkel is a recognized consultant in the hotel industry. He operates his hotel consulting practice serving as an expert witness in hotel-related cases and providing asset management an and hotel franchising consultation. Prior to forming his hotel consulting firm, Turkel was the Product Line Manager for worldwide Hotel/Motel Operations at the International Telephone & Telegraph Co. overseeing the Sheraton Corporation of America. Before joining IT&T, he was the Resident Manager of the Americana Hotel (1842 Rooms), General Manager of the Drake Hotel (680 Rooms) and General Manager of the Summit Hotel (762 Rooms), all in New York City. He serves as a Friend of the Tisch Center and lectures at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. He is certified as a Master Hotel Supplier Emeritus by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He served for eleven years as Chairman of the Board of the Trustees of the City Club of New York and is now the Honorary Chairman.

Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. More than 275 articles on various hotel subjects have been posted in hotel magazines and on the Hotel-Online, Blue MauMau, Hotel News Resource and eTurboNews websites. 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. Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America, Lawrence Horwitz, has even praised one book, Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry:

  • “If you have ever been in a hotel, as a guest, attended a conference, enjoyed a romantic dinner, celebrated a special occasion, or worked as a hotelier in the front or back of the house, Great American Hoteliers, Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry is a must read book. This book is recommended for any business person, entrepreneur, student, or aspiring hotelier. This book is an excellent history book with insights into seventeen of the great innovators and visionaries of the hotel industry and their inspirational stories.”

Turkel was designated as the “2014 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.

Works published by Stanley Turkel include:

Most of these books can be ordered from AuthorHouse—(except Heroes of the American Reconstruction, which can be ordered from McFarland)—by visiting, or by clicking on the book’s title.

Contact: Stanley Turkel

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