fb-pixel Skip to main content

Omni Parker House, which has hosted glitterati since 1855, could be designated historic landmark

Longtime Boston Omni Parker House employee Dan McKenna waiting for guests to arrive in March.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

City officials are considering a proposal to designate as a historic landmark the iconic Omni Parker House, which has operated since 1855 and has welcomed a bevy of historical figures over the decades, including Charles Dickens and Mary Todd Lincoln, according to the Boston Landmarks Commission.

The Parker House had been the longest continuously operating hotel in the country, said the commission in a statement, until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it shut down temporarily.

The commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal Nov. 23.

Dickens lived at the Parker House while writing “A Christmas Carol” and even performed the work for members of the Saturday Club, who convened at the hotel, the commission’s statement said.

Advertisement



The hotel’s guests have included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, along with Dickens and Lincoln.

And, said the statement, the Parker House kitchen’s delectable fare — especially the Parker House roll and Boston cream pie — has gained “national attention.”

The statement also said that Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh once worked at the hotel, and that political figures have long flocked to it for upscale functions.

“The hotel’s long association with Massachusetts politicians and political events, given its location on the direct line between Old City Hall and the Massachusetts State House, also contributes to its significance,” said the statement, which included a link to a 67-page report on the hotel.

The report said the Parker House’s historical bona fides have long been evident.

“Since 2006, the Parker House has been a member of Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation,” the report said. “To be part of this program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.”

Advertisement



The late senator Ted Kennedy praised the Parker House in a letter to its manager, Paul Sacco, in 1992, saying the hotel had “a significant place in some of the happiest memories of my family.”

“Those memories were political, among them John F. Kennedy’s announcement of his first candidacy for the U. S. Congress (1946),” the report said, “and personal, such as his proposal of marriage to Jacqueline Bouvier (1953) and subsequent bachelor’s party.”

More recently on the political front, the document said, the hotel has hosted campaign events for Massachusetts governors Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick, and the inauguration breakfast for reelected Governor Charlie Baker in 2019.

The School Street property where the Parker House is located has a total assessed value of $124.6 million and is owned by the Omni Boston Corporation, at Omni Hotel Management Corporation based in Dallas, according to the report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.