Hotel history

Historical hotels, people and things in hospitality

The Skirvin Hotel, Part 1

The Skirvin Hilton Hotel is Oklahoma City’s oldest hotel. It was built by William Balser Skirvin, a native of Michigan who made his fortune in Texas land development and oil. In 1906, Skirvin and his family (including his daughter Pearl who would later become Perle Mesta, ambassador to Luxemborg and a famous Washington hostess) moved to Oklahoma City. Skirvin hired Solomon Andrew Layton, an American architect who designed over 100 public buildings in the Oklahoma City area including the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Jung Hotel of New Orleans

First opened in 1908, then expanded in 1925 and again in the 1960s, the Jung Hotel was designed by the prominent architectural firm of Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth. It had once been known as the largest convention hotel in the South. It was called the Jung for more than 75 years and, later it was known as the Clarion, Radisson, Braniff Place, Grand and Park Plaza.

Ralph Hitz (1891-1940)

The hotel business has seen many fine promoters and salesmen but perhaps none as creative as Ralph Hitz. His two favorite expressions “Contact the hell out of ‘em” and “Give ‘em walue and you get wolume”, spoken in his thick Viennese accent, were a key to his philosophy of business. And it worked.