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Omni Parker House

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60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s son, Edward Waldo Emerson, opens his account of the Saturday Club with the following:

“These brave illuminators,—poets, scholars, statesmen, workers in science, art, law, medicine, large business, and good citizenship,—by the fortune of the small area of New England and its few centers of ripening culture, were more easily drawn together. In the summer of 1855, eleven of these agreed to meet for monthly dinners in Boston. They soon drew friends with genius or wit into their circle…”

The club, as he suggests, was begun in the mid 1800s as an informal gathering of intellectuals at the Albion House. In 1855, the meetings were formalized and moved to the Omni Parker House. Notable members included transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, writer Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Henry David Thoreau and Henry James were known to occasionally attend. In 1857 Saturday Club members founded The Atlantic Monthly at the Parker House as an outlet for members’ writings. In addition, Charles Dickens lived in the hotel for five months in 1867 and 1868, giving his first reading of “A Christmas Carol” for the members of the Saturday Club; Mark Twain was a guest in 1877. Further, the hotel itself features in the works of Edith Wharton.

The Parker House was established by a Maine farm boy, Harvey D. Parker, who in 1832 bought his favorite café for $432, renaming it after himself. Though he had come to Boston with less than a dollar to his name, by the early 1850s, he had earned enough money to buy the nearby Mico Mansion, a boarding house, and have it demolished. The hotel was built in its place, and today is the oldest in the country. Aside from its long literary history, it has also hosted famous performers—including Sarah Bernhardt, Joan Crawford, James Dean, Judy Garland, Yo-Yo Ma, and Stevie Nicks—politicians—such as Ulysses S. Grant, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt—and baseball players, including Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Activist Malcolm X and Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh worked in the restaurant and bake shop, respectively.

Today, the hotel’s long history has given rise to rumors of hauntings. Even Oliver Wendell Holmes appeared to comment in his poem, “At the Saturday Club”:

Such guests! What famous names its record boasts,

Whose owners wander in the mob of ghosts!

 

Past Events

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May 2015

ArtWeek Boston: Omni Parker House Literary Tour

May 5, 2015 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States

Free, but limited to only 15. Registration required! Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of A Christmas Carol before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House in this combined talk-and-tour! This showcase will occur in conjunction with Boston's Literary District.

Find out more »

ArtWeek Boston: Omni Parker House Literary Tour

May 5, 2015 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States

Free, but limited to only 15. Registration required! Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of A Christmas Carol before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House in this combined talk-and-tour! This showcase will occur in conjunction with Boston's Literary District.

Find out more »

ArtWeek Boston: Omni Parker House Literary Tour

May 5, 2015 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States

Free, but limited to only 15. Registration required! Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of A Christmas Carol before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House in this combined talk-and-tour! This showcase will occur in conjunction with Boston's Literary District.

Find out more »

ArtWeek Boston: Omni Parker House Literary Tour

May 5, 2015 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States

Free, but limited to only 15. Registration required! Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of A Christmas Carol before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House in this combined talk-and-tour! This showcase will occur in conjunction with Boston's Literary District.

Find out more »
October 2016

Artweek at the Omni Parker House

October 4, 2016 | 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States
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Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of “A Christmas Carol” before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Where did Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X work before they were Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X? Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House! ArtWeek participants will be given a private talk and tour of the…

Find out more »
October 2017

Insider Tour of the Historic Omni Parker House

October 3, 2017 | 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States
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$15

Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of “A Christmas Carol” before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Where did Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X work before they were Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X? House historian Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House. Don't miss this private talk and tour of the hotel,…

Find out more »
October 2018

More Lasting Than Bronze?

October 27, 2018 | 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States
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Free

Award-winning sculptor Meredith Bergmann will show images of her Boston Women’s Memorial, which is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its unveiling. She will tell stories about other commissions, bringing history to life, Phillis Wheatley and poems, and the tradition of a lover’s quarrel between sculpture and poetry. Meredith Bergmann is a sculptor, currently creating the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Movement Monument for Central Park, NYC. Her poetry publications include Barrow Street, Hudson Review, Light, Mezzo Cammin, New Criterion, Raintown Review, Tri…

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November 2018

School Street Sessions: Tino Villanueva at the Omni Parker House

November 17, 2018 | 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Omni Parker House, 60 School Street
Boston, MA 02108 United States
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Free

Tino Villanueva is the author of seven books of poetry, including Scene from the Movie GIANT (1993), which won a 1994 American Book Award. Six of his poems appear in The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011). His latest, So Spoke Penelope (2013), has been translated into Italian and Spanish. One of his ekphrastic poems appeared in the March 2016 issue of Poetry magazine. He recently retired from Boston University. Free admission. Food and drink at Parker’s Bar not included / paid parking available / near State Street and Government Center…

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Did You Know?

Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.