NASHVILLE, TN (August 19, 2019) – A hub for state politics in Nashville since its opening in 1910, The Hermitage Hotel is committed to deeply honoring its ties to the city’s history. Located just a block from the state capitol in downtown Nashville, the hotel’s grand lobby, meeting rooms, culinary offerings, and lodging have long been popular with legislators, lobbyists, and the general public. One of its most notable historic contributions came in 1920, when all U.S. states were in the process of ratifying the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the amendment which gave women the right to vote. Tennessee was the 36th and final state to vote on this amendment, and The Hermitage Hotel became an infamous backdrop for both sides’ political leaders in the weeks and months leading up to ratification.
Today, the country is approaching the year 2020, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, and to celebrate this historic milestone, The Hermitage Hotel is honoring its storied past with an array of specials and events taking place throughout the centennial year (August 2019 through August 2020).
“We’re extremely honored to be in a position to celebrate our role in this pivotal time in history. As a team that takes great pride in our hotel’s past, we look forward to many opportunities over the next 12 months to share that history with our guests and the Nashville community,” says The Hermitage Hotel’s Managing Director, Dee Patel. “An integral part of our mission here is to preserve and promote our community’s history and culture. In a city that’s so rapidly changing, it’s an honor to be a part of this dialogue, and we’re proud to have a place in educational and cultural activities like celebrating Tennessee’s role in the 19th Amendment’s ratification.”
Patel has been with The Hermitage Hotel for more than 16 years and serves as the property’s first female Managing Director. She is responsible for running all facets of the company, including Capitol Grille, Oak Bar, Rachel’s Boutique, the Garden at Glen Leven, and various real estate properties in the downtown corridor.
“I always say, ‘If these walls could talk, what stories would they tell?’ This is our chance to give the community a closer look into a piece of our 110-year legacy and tell those stories,” says Patel.
THEN: The History
During the fight for women’s suffrage in 1920, The Hermitage Hotel was a central meeting spot for both pro- and anti-suffrage campaigners. In fact, Carrie Chapman Catt – leader of the yellow rose pro-suffrage movement, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and President of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance – stayed at the hotel often leading up to the vote. At the same time, anti-suffragists also claimed the hotel to be their meeting place and chose to wear red roses to symbolize their discord. It became a battle of yellow “Suffs” verses red “Antis.”
Finally, in August 1920, Tennessee legislator Harry T. Burn solidified the bill. Even though he was wearing a red rose, Burn voted in favor of suffragists – as history tells, his vote was influenced by a letter in his pocket from his mother that read, “Hurrah and vote for suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt… Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt." After his vote, it is rumored that he ran to The Hermitage Hotel. Two days later, the 19th Amendment became a national law, and today, there is a historical marker outside the hotel commemorating the day.
NOW: The 100th Anniversary Celebrations
Since the property was an integral backdrop during the fight toward women’s suffrage, The Hermitage Hotel team is excited to announce that leading up to the 100th anniversary in August, they will be hosting a series of events, exhibits, and offerings, introduced below. The hotel also plans to participate in and support various larger celebration events throughout the city during the centennial year.
Additional details regarding each activation, plus information on more forthcoming events held at the hotel, will be announced in the coming weeks and months.
Historic Nook Women’s Suffrage Takeover
August 2019 through August 2020 in the Grand Lobby
Explore a display of The Hermitage Hotel’s private collection of historic artifacts dating from the summer of 1920, when both Pro and Anti Suffrage leaders were headquartered in the hotel. This display will be located in the lobby next to the front desk and will be open for all to see throughout the centennial year.
Suffrage-Themed Craft Cocktail Menu
August 2019 through August 2020 at Oak Bar
In the summer of 1920, Pro and Anti Suffragists lobbied the men of Capitol Hill for the right to vote inside the Oak Bar beneath The Hermitage Hotel. Although forbidden by prohibition, many legislators and lobbyists winked at the 18th Amendment while fighting for and against the 19th. Travel back in time to the final battleground of Women’s Suffrage and honor this unique moment in history for an immersive, pop-up bar experience inside the storied Oak Bar.
Suffrage Tea Series
The beginnings of the Women’s Suffrage Movement started over a simple afternoon tea amongst five women discussing moral and political injustices towards women. Soon, it became the launching platform as the movement gained momentum, allowing women a place to gather and organize their efforts in advancing the cause. Now, a century later we invite both visitors and locals alike to experience a suffrage tea in our Veranda and learn about the events that transpired inside our hotel leading up to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Capitol Grille 1920 Dinner Features
Summer 2020 at Capitol Grille
Executive Chef Derek Brooks will feature culinary delights dating back to the 1920s throughout summer 2020 in The Hermitage Hotel’s stalwart restaurant, Capitol Grille. These throwback dishes will give a taste of what Suffrage leaders and politicians of the time enjoyed as they worked to pass the 19th Amendment. Chef Brooks will collaborate with our gardener at Glen Leven, Sarah Bush, to feature heirloom varieties of legumes dating back to the Suffrage period.
Summer 2020 Female Artist Music Series
First Fridays of June, July, and August 2020 in the Grand Lobby
A special lineup of local Nashville women musicians will be invited to perform on the first Friday of each summer month. Appreciate Nashville’s treasured female talent in the historic Grand Lobby of The Hermitage Hotel.
Yellow Rose Gala
Join The Hermitage Hotel for a spectacular evening celebrating the centennial anniversary for Women’s Suffrage in the heart of where the final battle happened. This ticketed, multi-course dinner and will feature notable female chefs from across the country to celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
ABOUT THE HERMITAGE HOTEL
The Hermitage Hotel, located in the heart of Downtown Nashville, is Tennessee’s Only Forbes Five Star hotel, featuring 122 pet-friendly rooms, Capitol Grille, Oak Bar, ample meeting space and a deep history. The Hermitage Hotel is a cherished landmark in downtown Nashville and is known as Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel. The Hermitage Hotel has been consistently committed to the preservation of the region's heritage, including the conservation of local farms and the protection of its natural landscapes. Since 2008, when The Hermitage Hotel’s partnership with The Land Trust for Tennessee began, the hotel has been able raise almost $1,000,000 to directly support the conservation of over 85,000 acres of land. These protected lands, made of scenic trails, state parks and urban spaces, allow Tennesseans the opportunity to bike, hike, fish, farm and play for generations to come. On its two-acre plot at Glen Leven Farms, The Hermitage Hotel is proud to run an heirloom period garden just 15 minutes from the hotel. The garden is home to their own crops like kale, beets, carrots, turnips, thyme, basil, and flowers all of which are used for seasonal cuisine at Capitol Grille and Oak Bar.