Why the turtle?
You might ask. A turtle, for a guesthouse? Why not a pineapple, the symbol of hospitality?
When our partnership was just forming thirty years ago, we contemplated the size of the property we were looking to buy, the ungainliness, the squirrelly layout. The house was a hotel, but not anything like most hotels. It was, and remains, an oversized house, big to begin with, and added to many years ago in a less-than-beautiful style.
And the seller, only child of the couple who started the hotel, was silent for months after our first offer, as she held out for more, unsure of our abilities and our intentions.
In our rambling and speculative discussions, my partner (now husband) Barry once said, “No one wants this place! It’s an ark!”
And that got me thinking, well before we bought it, that we could do a theme of an ark, a place of refuge, to guide our decor. The animals could be represented in their home environments, one on each floor: the first floor would be animals of the water, second floor of the earth, third floor animals of the sky, and the fourth floor, animals of the heavens.
As I sewed curtains, working at the front desk, I thought of the artwork, the colors of the walls, rugs and bed spreads that could all bring this together. In those early days, my head was full of grand ideas, not much money, and plenty of practical matters demanding more serious focus. So while I did find some great fabric for curtains and spreads, and I did find artwork to complement the fabrics’ colors and themes, we also had to do some major construction, and standardize most of the soft goods so that housekeeping would be simplified. So the animal idea was kind of abandoned in the name of expedience.
In 2009 we reworked our look, launched a new web site, with a new logo and brought back some of the environmental theme I had kept in the back of my mind for nearly twenty years, and commissioned some animal images to go with the logo. Since then, images of animals have made regular appearances in our advertising. My note cards, our print ads, and most of our swag has some animal on it. There is something about the turn of this turtle’s head, the seeming swagger and curiosity there that charms me. And, the turtle, unlike the rabbit or the bird, is a horizontal image, so fits the banner best. And there you are.
Wish you were here!
Our Assistant Manager, Zoia Krastanova, came to us from Bulgaria having established herself as an award winning photojournalist there. Who knew that someone who had grown up in the Soviet system would be so good at managing a hotel in capitalist USA? She is.
AND she continues to take pictures of her adopted home.
One of the ways we are thinking of to cheerfully remind our guests to protect others from whatever they may be carrying is to provide them, and even our own staff, with a bandanna to wear when out in public. The image above is close to what we have been working on to print for both guesthouses.
My daughter, Briana, who manages Harding House, came up with the idea. I particularly like that we have blended the ivy of Irving House with the stars of Harding House, which brings to mind the quote from Henry David Thoreau:
"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."
CORONA CASH CRUNCH!
We are still in it, so we are still making the offer: a $100 gift certificate will buy you a night at Irving House in a room with private bath any time after we open through 12/31/20.
We thank our loyal and generous guests for purchasing these already. This keeps us going practically and boosts our morale.
To buy one you can call us with a credit card number or send us a check.
24 Irving Street, Cambridge, MA 02138