By Mary Beth Klatt
President Calvin Coolidge was the first U.S. President to stay at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, built in 1927. Formerly the Statler Hotel, part of E.M. Statler’s grassroots hotel chain initiated at the onset of the 20th century, all but two U.S. presidents have stayed there since. In its heyday, this “city within a city” triangular building, designed by architect George B. Post, was the tallest in town. It was also the most technologically advanced in the world, with radios in each guestroom and programming broadcast from a rooftop station.
Over the decades, the building began to look dated. The lobby was diminished when commercial real estate offices were carved out of the hotel’s podium, detracting from the building’s original grand entrance.
However, in 2016, Sudbury, Massachusetts-based Parker-Torres Design completed a $100 million renovation financed by Sunstone Hotel Investors. Principal Ellen Bourque Johnson and her team focused their efforts on relocating and expanding the hotel’s restaurant and lounge, Off the Common. They restored plasterwork with gold leaf and period wall clocks in the lobby. Johnson emphasized the room’s high ceiling with illuminated sheer panels, drawing the eye to the coffered ceiling. She also had a series of geometric diamond chandeliers installed overhead Off the Common’s bar area for a shimmering touch.
Johnson and her team also transformed the hotel’s 1,060 guestrooms, borrowing colors from a traditional Boston businessman’s suit – taupe and chocolate – for the walls, with pops of crimson in pillows and artwork. She had bathrooms completely overhauled with new fittings, ivory tile and charcoal wood finishes.
Parker-Torres also refurbished the hotel’s signature library lounge, where a vintage photograph of a 1920s marble competition hangs. It serves as a reminder of the hotel’s history and how the updated premises will continue to welcome guests, celebrities and presidents.