The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, TN, has been selected as the 2020 Historic Hotel of the Year by Historic Hotels of America. The Hermitage is receiving the honor for its celebration of women’s suffrage history and for demonstrating a long tradition of exceptional hospitality and customer service.
The award is given annually to a historic hotel whose owners, leadership and employees are careful overseers of historic preservation, by stewarding history, heritage and stories for generations of guests to come.
“The Hermitage Hotel is deeply committed to historical preservation, so to be named the 2020 Historic Hotel of the Year is our pinnacle of success,” said Dee Patel, managing director of The Hermitage Hotel. “On behalf of our owners and our full team, we are truly honored to receive this prestigious award in tandem with our National Historic Landmark designation, acknowledging the integral role the hotel played in the suffrage movement.”
Since opening its doors in 1910 just one block from the Tennessee State Capitol, the 122-room Hermitage Hotel has served as a focus for local politics, with perhaps its most significant contribution in the summer of 1920 as the backdrop for the women’s suffrage movement. In August of that year, Tennessee’s 33 senators and 99 representatives arrived in the state capital for a special session called by the governor.
A hotly contested issue of national importance was at stake – women’s right to vote. Just one more state was needed for the amendment to pass. A decades-long legislative effort came down to Tennessee as the essential state to ratify, or nullify, the 19th Amendment.
From across the United States, pro- and anti-suffrage leaders, special interest groups, lobbyists, and journalists descended on The Hermitage Hotel. The eyes of the nation were on Nashville. For the weeks leading up to the final vote, The Hermitage Hotel’s guest rooms, grand lobby, meeting rooms and dining spaces were filled with pro- and anti-campaigners making their impassioned pleas to the men of capitol hill.
The conflict came to be known as “The War of the Roses,” with anti-ratification forces sporting red roses squaring off against yellow-rose-wearing pro-suffragists. Heated debates progressed in the state capitol, and in the halls of The Hermitage Hotel, for eight long days. Ultimately, it was a single tie-breaking votethat tipped the scales – one vote truly can make a difference.
With that single vote, the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution was successfully passed by Tennessee on August 18, 1920, and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on August 26, 1920, giving women the right to vote across the country.
“Congratulations to the ownership, leadership, and many associates at The Hermitage Hotel,” said Lawrence Horwitz, executive vice president, Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “We are delighted to recognize this magnificent historic hotel and its historic hoteliers for their dedication, enthusiasm, stewardship, and leadership in preserving this iconic treasure and its stories for future generations.”
With a 110-year history in the heart of downtown Nashville, The Hermitage Hotel is deeply committed to protecting and preserving its ties to the past and remaining a cherished Beaux Arts landmark for the city. Known as Nashville’s original million-dollar property, The Hermitage is an icon of Southern hospitality, and is said to be the state’s most luxurious hotel.
The Secretary of the Interior recently designated The Hermitage Hotel as a National Historic Landmark. To honor the 2020 Historic Hotel of the Year, The Hermitage Hotel is the featured hotel in the inside front cover of the 2020-21 Historic Hotels of America Directory.
Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation with more than 300 participants, comprised of mostly independently owned and operated properties, including more than 30 hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; have been designated 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.