By 1943, she had acquired the house at 24 Irving Street from her father. The property was already established a lodging house. Mrs. Misho at first contracted with Harvard University to use 24 Irving Street as a dormitory for Harvard freshmen.
After two years she tired of their rowdy behavior, and agreed to take Radcliffe students instead. The women, according to her daughter Jeanne “were worse yet” and that arrangement ended after only one year.
The family home at 67 Kirkland Street, then served as both an office and occasional rooms for the overflow of hotel guests. Because of its close proximity to Harvard University, and because her husband Vangel was a graduate of the Harvard Business School, both houses often hosted academics of all kinds.
Jeanne recalled that, as a child, the moment she knew when guests from Irving House were coming to the family dinner at 67 Kirkland Street was when her father said:
‘Quiet now, everyone! I would like to introduce you to Professor so-and-so from somewhere-wonderful. He will stay to dinner with us and I am sure you will all be very pleasant to him.’
Frances Misho ran various promotions to market the inn. She paid cabdrivers one dollar for each guest they brought in. She ran contests with cash prizes. She printed small, pocket-sized brochures with a poem welcoming visitors to Cambridge, and a map to show travelers the way to their front door.
On the day of the sale, knowing we could not use the name The Kirkland Inn, and not knowing any other, the name we had tentatively chosen was Enoch Beane House, naming it after the grocer who had had it built as a rental property in 1893. This may have been historically accurate, but was not a great commercial choice. Within weeks, we had renamed it Irving House. It was only after this decision was made, the name Irving House Corporation filed, that we discovered some promotional materials using the name Irving House along side The Kirkland Inn.
An invitation dating from the 1950s goes on to say that The Kirkland Inn offered “country charm midst city comfort and convenience” and instructs travelers to “inquire at office 67 Kirkland Street; enjoy our rooms at 24 Irving Street” Several of these were found behind baseboards in guestrooms and in dresser drawers in the basement as we moved through the renovation process. They indicate rates of $2-$4 per person, but others have crossed these out, replacing them with rates of $25-$40. It was thrilling to find these lovely bits of memorabilia expressing the same style of hospitality, with the same amenities (modern and neat rooms, parking without a fee!) after we had already begun to promote the house along the same lines.
Poem from the 1957 ‘invitation’:
‘Tis desperately hard in time of need
To find nice rooms here ‘bouts indeed!
Cease to frown and tarry no more
A welcoming smile attends this door
Home hospitality, a charming retreat
Wonderful rooms all modern and neat
Tile showers and baths shining and gay
A PERFECT END TO THE TRAVELER’S DAY!
History, museums, surround the lot
Washington, Longfellow, –aye names ne’er forgot
Abode in Cambridge, near this very dot!
Harvard, Radcliffe, M. I. T.
All within reach for ye
JUST PARK YOUR CAR—WITHOUT A FEE!
Fifteen minutes and twenty cents
Straighten out those Boston bends
No traffic snarls, no glaring cops
No hours of looking for parking spots!
Serene and calm breathe Boston charm
As the subway in CAMBRIDGE leaves you downtown
Midst historical sites and famous stores’ brights
And OLDE NEW ENGLAND’S cooking delights!
The first brochure I designed noted: “Now there is a place to stay in Cambridge, for you, and all your friends and relations.” The phrase ‘friends and relations’ comes to me from A. A. Milne’s description of the broad community of Winnie the Pooh.
Perhaps Frances Misho knew this too when she wrote in her invitation: “It is our hope and our purpose to establish a period of acquaintanceship within which time you may be able to afford us the opportunity of meeting you, your friends and your relations.”