Copyright 2009-2011 Lisa Waterman Gray

Monday, October 17, 2011

The National Fred Harvey Museum - Leavenworth

During the late 1800s railway travelers  on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad were indebted to Frederick Henry Harvey, who pioneered well prepared meals served in spotless surroundings across the United States.

Weary travelers no longer had to dine in eating houses and hotels where sanitation practices often fell short; instead they ate on fine china served by the 'Harvey Girls' - signature wait staff for this early restaurant chain. Southwestern Indian arts and crafts also figured prominently in the restaurant decor.
But Harvey's influence extended long beyond his death in 1901; by 1967 the 'Fred Harvey System' extended from the Great Lakes to the Pacific. And Harvey was admitted to the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 2008.

Leavenworth hosts one of the Harvey family homes, where he lived from 1883 until 1901. After the last family member vacated the residence, it was transferred to the Leavenworth Board of Education in 1949.
A massive renovation is underway, which will restore the mansion to its 1865 grandeur. Visitors will see original parquet floors, lovely transom windows and uncharacteristically large rooms for this time period.
Every detail is receiving a makeover and limited free tours are available (call ahead). There's also a small museum on the property, where you'll find china and other memorabilia from this legendary restaurant phenomenon.

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