The Leavenworth County Historical Society and the National Fred Harvey Museum are partnering with the National Archives at Kansas City for an upcoming Fred Harvey event in Leavenworth. Recall a couple of years ago when Stephen Fried, author of “Appetite for America” was the guest speaker at a Harvey style luncheon held at the Carroll Mansion Museum. The sold-out event attracted an audience from across the Midwest. More recently, an exhibit, “Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West” opened May 7 at the National Archives. Their press release indicated that the exhibit traces the development of Harvey’s food service partnership with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad which branded the Fred Harvey eating houses and hotels as a company with “uncompromising standards, excellent food, and impeccable service” offered by the famed Harvey Girls.
On Saturday, June 22, a new documentary film, “Opportunity Bound” produced and directed by Katrina Parks for American Public Television, is scheduled to premiere in Leavenworth at the Riverfront Community Center at 9:30 in the morning. The film presents stories of the famous Harvey Girls and the Fred Harvey restaurant empire. The Harvey Girls were waitresses along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad from the 1890s through the 1960s and those who are yet among us are now in their 80s and 90s. Ms. Parks has captured their stories in the context of major events of the 19th and 20th centuries. The film screening will be open to the public with a suggested $3 donation. After the film, Ms. Parks and Fried, along with Dr. Tim Westcott, history professor at Park University, and Denise Morrison, director of collections at Union Station/Kansas City Museum, will entertain questions or comments from the audience. A group of “Fred-Heads” from Kansas City and across the nation will also be present, as well as descendants of the Fred Harvey family.
Following the film, the National Fred Harvey Museum (NFHM) and the Carroll Mansion Museum will both be open to the public from 11 am to 2pm, Saturday, with regular admission fees charged. The NFHM is in the process of renovations and the tour offers a “mid-restoration” view of the Harvey House, which Fred Harvey bought for his family in 1883 and remained in the family until 1944. Over the past 10 years, the NFHM has invested over $350,000 in the renovation of Fred Harvey’s home, including funds from state and county grants, fundraising events, and private donations. They have also collected artifacts from Harvey family members, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and local supporters for display in the museum. NFHM has no paid employees, so all moneys received directly benefit the museum.
A collection of Harvey family artifacts are also held at the Carroll Mansion Museum, home of the Leavenworth County Historical Society, which was founded nearly sixty years ago, during the Centennial of the City of Leavenworth. The house was a gift in 1965 from Miss Ella Carroll, daughter of Edward Carroll, local banker. It opened the following year as a museum. The mansion is one of the best preserved Victorian homes in the United States. A sampling of personal Harvey family artifacts will be on exhibit at the museum where docents are dressed in period costume to offer an awareness of life in Victorian, Fred Harvey-era Leavenworth.
Both museums are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are within a couple of blocks from each other. The Harvey House can be found at 7th & Olive and the Carroll Mansion Museum at 1128 Fifth Avenue, just south of Cushing Memorial Hospital. The National Fred Harvey Museum can be contacted by calling Jeanie Hazels 913-682-1884 or Jewell West 913-682-6304 or by visiting their website: www.firstcitymuseums.org/fredharvey_main.html. For additional information about this event, please contact the Leavenworth County Historical Society, at the Carroll Mansion Museum, 913-682-7759 or email: email@example.com.
About the Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West Exhibit at the National Archives
Fred Harvey was a visionary businessman who changed the nature of railroad meal stops in the 1870s. His string of eating establishments, called Harvey Houses, followed the route of the Santa Fe Railroad. Prior to Fred Harvey, there were no fast-food restaurants or chain hotels guaranteeing a quality travel experience in the American West. He espoused the principles of excellent food, impeccable service, reasonable prices, and standardized service in all his restaurants.
Fred Harvey’s hospitality empire eventually spanned from Ohio to California. Dotted with everything from eating houses and grand resort hotels to curio shops and specialty tourist activities, Fred Harvey created a standard of excellence in hospitality that the traveling public grew to appreciate and expect. Fred Harvey inspired poems and books about his famous hospitality, and even a Hollywood movie featuring the Harvey Girls.
Fred Harvey: The Man, the Brand, and the American West is available for viewing, Tuesday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. through January 4, 2014. To schedule a group tour call 816-268-8013 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About the National Archives
The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 15 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit www.archives.gov/kansas-city/.
Stephen Fried’s book, “Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West” will be available for sale and signing on Saturday at the Riverfront and the Carroll Mansion Museum.