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100 N. 5th St.
Leavenworth, KS 66048
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Harvey House (#18)


From 4th Street (7 Hwy), turn west on Olive. Continue three blocks to the Harvey House.

About This Location

Historic Wayside Tour #18
The Harvey House
Into the grunt and growl life of the southwest frontier Fred Harvey brought an era of gracious manners, delicious food, good women, and high standards of service. Frederick Harvey was born in London in 1835. At fifteen Harvey immigrated to the United States. His first job was as a "pot-walloper", a dishwasher, in a New York restaurant. He saved a portion of his two dollars a week salary and in 1860 he opened his first eating establishment in St. Louis.

In 1865 Fred Harvey and his family moved to Leavenworth. He purchased this house in 1883 and it was that the Harveys raised their five children. It was to this home that Fred Harvey came to die in 1901.

Fred Harvey's chain of restaurants and hotels, the Harvey Houses, spread across the southwest as a result of a most unusual association of Harvey and the Santa Fe Railroad. With a handshake to seal their agreement the two companies began an unparalleled business partnership. The Santa Fe Railroad would provide the buildings for the Harvey restaurants where all of the passenger trains would stop twice daily for meals. The railroad would carry all the produce and supplies needed by the Harvey restaurants to include transporting the dirty laundry! Fred Harvey would hire, train, and supervise all personnel and provide for food and service. Harvey's policy was "Maintenance of standard, regardless of cost." He believed that profits would accrue in the long run if service was excellent. To maintain this excellence, he hired and trained girls of the finest character as waitresses, the famous "Harvey Girls".

At Fred Harvey's death the Santa Fe Railroad had lines south to the Gulf, north to Chicago and criss-crossing the entire southwest. The Harvey business had grown to more than sixty hotels and eating-places, thirty dining cars, and a ferry on San Francisco Bay.

The Kansas City Journal Post described Fred Harvey as "the greatest civilizing force of this generation."


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