DENISON GENEALOGY, by Denison, Peck & Jacobus, page 153
STATE OF FLORIDA, OFFICE OF VITAL STATISTICS, State File #7B-085586
Certificate of Death. States: DOB,POB, DOD, POD, Father's name, mother's name.
OCCUPATION: Motel Owner/Operator.
1910 CENSUS - RICHLAND, HENNEPIN CO., MINNESOTA, Ancestry.com, 23 June 1900, by Kertland L. McLell, page 297, sheet 9, Dwelling #150, Family #152.
CHANDLER, can not read, at school 9 months, yes, yes, yes.
1920 CENSUS - RICHFIELD, HENEPIN CO., MINNESOTA, Ancestry.com, 3 Feb 1920, by Earl O. Wester, sheet #17B, 34th Avenue, South, Dwelling #340, Family #409. Living in father's household.
CHANDLER, Gilbert S., son, M, W, 28, M, Minnesota, Maine, New York, Manager, Truck farm, oa.
CHANDLER, Mable Irene, daughter-in-law, F, W, 23, Rhode Island, Rhode Island, Rhode Island, none.
"MOTEL/MOTOR INN JOURNAL", January 1972. Written by Ray Sawyer, Assistant Editor.
When the elder Gilbert S. Chandler, Sr. stepped down almost seven years ago to turn his holdings over to his twin sons, Gilbert, Jr. and Herbert, he left behind an unusually illustrative, innovative career. From the outset, he realized and capitalized upon the values of constant up-grading, providing personal service for his guests and taking part in industry affairs as avenues for both the growth and strengthening of his businesses -- precepts that remain today cornerstones for successful operation.
Chandler utilized several sources as barometers to "keeping up with the march of time." He took advantage of tips and comments made by guide book and referral organization inspectors. Each summer he used his two-to-three weeks of vacation with his family to observe and gain ideas from other successful operations in various parts of the country. And he took an active part in the organization, development and leadership of industry associations in order to help build and strengthen his businesses through referrals and the exchange of ideas with some of the better aspirators in the industry.
To assure his properties of leading competitive roles, he both continuously up-graded them and introduced many innovations. "I believe I was the first in the East to put carpets on guest room floors and to install a swimming pool and steam heat." he relates in enumerating but a few of them. "And I was the first in the area to have room telephones. As a result, many people stayed with us who might not have otherwise."
"If you don't advertise on the highway, prospective guests won't know your place exists. If they see your sign and drive by your place and its appearance isn't appealing and attractive, they'll pass you by. If it is nice and they stop and come into your office and they're not treated properly, you'll lose them right there. Then, if you send them to a room and it isn't nice and clean -- cleanliness is very, very important to the success of a motel -- they're not going to stay. And if they do stay and they're not treated well throughout the time they're with you, they're not going to come back".
Chandler learned very early that the brand of personal service a manager provides is all-important to his success and vital to building repeat trade. "You've got to be nice to your guests." he explains. "You've got to be friendly and accommodate their requests. You should always be ready to do anything within reason for them."
"You also have to carefully screen your help and work closely with them to see that they conform to this philosophy, too." he continues. "And they should basically be friendly and display a nice appearance. Otherwise, you shouldn't keep them around."
As soon as a guest arrives and opens the front door, you should greet him with something along the order of: 'How are you?' or 'What can I do for you?' This friendliness at the start is most important. Then, as soon as he registrars and you give him his key, you should inform him that if there's anything else you can do, to please let you know.
"You must especially be careful to take care of your regular commercial guests," he adds. "If one lets you know in advance that he is going to need a room during the tourist season, you should be sure to have him one at the single rate -- even if it's a double or a suite with three bedrooms."
"And commercials should be granted free extensions when they desire them. If checkout time is at noon, they should be allowed to stay until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. as long as they allow the maids to come in and clean the rooms."
That he has been effective in this area is underlined by the fact that his motels have regulars who have been coming back for 20 to 30 years.
Originally a farmer and a native of Minneapolis, Minn., Chandler was stricken with the "tourist camp bug" as a result of renting a cabin for $1 at the Lincoln Park Tourist Camp, Los Angeles, California, in the fall of 1923. "This was the only camp there," he recalls. "There were three of us in the party and the only furnishings in the cabin were an electric light hanging down over the center of the room and a table and benches made by rough 1x4's. And its walls were only one thickness. We had our own bedrolls for sleeping."
The next morning, full of curiosity about this new type of business, he looked up the manager. "He told me that he had been in it eight months," Chandler recalls. "I asked him how business was and he said he hasn't had a vacancy."
"I went back to our cabin, took out my ruler and measured it off. I could not imagine under any circumstances that the cabin could have cost more than $75, including labor and materials. He had 10 units, so I said to myself, "Here is a man with an investment of $750 and takes in $900 every three months.
" I decided right then and there to quit farming and go into the tourist camp business."
The newness of the business, according to Chandler, was reflected by the fact that there wasn't a camp from Los Angeles to Pensacola, Florida, at the time. "And we had gone through San Diego, Ft. Worth, Dallas, New Orleans, Mobile and Gulfport on the way."
Gilbert Chandler met his wife Mable Irene Brown through a friend Herbert Bogg, when she came to Minneapolis from Stonington, Conn., where she was born, to live with her two aunts. She went to business school and then worked for the Minneapolis Tribune. They were married in 1919.
When he later arrived in Tallahassee with his family -- his wife, Mabel Irene, his two daughters, Evelyth and Norma, ages 4 and 5, and his 6-month old twin sons, Gilbert, Jr. and Herbert, -- he had but $2,000 with which to develop his business. With this, in 1925 he opened the city's first tourist camp, the Tallahassee Auto Camp.
To build it, he bought a group of dilapidated, unpainted and abandoned fairgrounds buildings from the Tallahassee Fair Assn. and obtained from the City of Tallahassee a one-year lease, at $1 per year, on a nearby piece of downtown property.
Material from a large exhibit building was used to construct four cabins, a community sanitary building equipped with separate lavatory, toilet and shower facilities for men and women, an open laundry building and a store with a barbecue stand. In addition, an open cowshed was boarded up, floored and partitioned to provide seven more rental units.
"At this stage, my assets were exhausted," says Chandler, "but I was in business." And the property he had developed was considered at the time, with its flushing toilets and hot water shower facilities, to be a modern auto camp, bringing rates of $1 per night or $5 per week.
During this period, his only full-time help was a maid to care for the children, Mrs. Chandler handled the housekeeping chores herself. Also during this year he became the first customer of a laundry that for 10 years charged his property 1c per item cleaned.
In the spring of 1926, before he had been in business one year, Chandler got under way with what was to mark the first of numerous expansion projects in the years to come -- the addition of 10 9x12-foot cabins at a cost of $75 each. Four were built that year, and six more added in 1927. "Two carpenters would build one each day," he recalls, "and I would rent it that night."
The flourishing business continued to grow to the point that in the spring of 1928 he was able to purchase five acres of land "out in the country," but now in the heart of the city -- half on each side of North Monroe Street. There, under the name, Tallahassee Tourist Camp, he built six stucco buildings -- four cottages, a store and a community sanitary building. The 10 newer cabins he had built at the original site were then moved out and placed at the rear of these new buildings, while the remainder of the facilities at the former site were demolished.
It was at this time that Chandler first fully realized the value of highway advertising. 'A fellow came along selling stenciling outfits for making your own signs." he explained. "I bought one and made 50 signs and put them out every three to five miles along the highway, getting as far as Marianna, Georgia, about 75 miles from Tallahassee.
"During this time, we had been renting 6 to 8 of our 14 units each night," he continues. "I called back home that evening to see how everything was, and I was told that we had been full since 5:00 p.m. and that everyone was saying they had seen our signs. We stayed full for about 10 to 15 years after that. Outdoor advertising has been largely responsible for enabling me to expand the way I have.
Meantime, Chandler was busily involved in industry activities. He was one of the organizers in the early 1930's, as well as a director, of the Tourist Cottage Owners Assn., which later became the Eastern Division of the United Motor Court Assn. In addition, he was a director of the short lived International Motor Court Assn. in 1937-1939.
Supplementing this activity, he also participated in local industry and civic organizations. Among those he took part in were the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, of which he has been a director and president of its Tourist Division; the Highway 317 Assn.; the US 27 Assn.; the Roadside Business Assn.; and the Florida Voluntary Highway Improvement Assn. He is also a Mason, a Shriner and a member of the American Legion, the 40&8 and VFW. In addition, he has been a member of the Tallahassee Exchange Club for 40 years.
In 1937, 10 more cottages were erected and the property's name was updated to Tallahassee Auto Court. In 1938, Chandler built the Lake Ella Motor Court on a nearby piece of property.
In the late 1930's, Chandler and four other United Motor Court leaders left that organization of form Quality Courts United (known today as Quality Motels). "We wanted to require UMCA members to meet certain operating standards within a reasonable period of time, and to eliminate those who refused to do so. We proposed this and lost the election by a tie vote among the officers. So we resigned and went to work to form an organization more comparably with our thinking."
"Finally, we met at Pat Patterson's Pat's Cottage Courts, Bennettsville, S.C., in 1939 and got Quality under way. In addition to Patterson and me, others taking part were: Edmund Wurth, Tampa, Fla.; Alford McKay, Ocala, Fla.; Burt Verburg, Fredericksburg, Va.; and Lloyd Thompson, St. Augustine, Fla.
"The main impetus of the organization was to develop referral business.
We published a guide to be passed out to our guests, listing members properties. And members also benefited from the exchange of ideas at conventions and meetings." Chandler was treasurer and director from the time Quality was organized until he resigned from the board in 1945, declining to accept re-election for another 2-year term.
In 1941, he purchased a square block of land in Pensacola at a cost of $9 per footage foot. There he built Motel Chandler, consisting of 24 cottages with brick and marble exteriors and tile roofs, which he rented at $6 and $7 nightly.
In 1944, his holding again increased when he obtained an FHA commitment for the construction of 30 two-room kitchenettes which were required to be rented only to armed services personnel at $30 per month. This property became Lakeshore Motel with cost per unit at $1,500.
The next expansion came in 1947 with the construction of the 32-unit Daytona Motor Hotel, Daytona Beach, Fla. With ocean frontage priced at $150 per foot at the time and building construction continuing to rise, per-unit costs soared to $6,000 per unit. At the time, this was the only place on South Atlantic Ave., offering overnight accommodations and a continental breakfast.
In 1949, Gilbert, Jr., and Herbert Chandler were made full partners in the growing business. And in 1951, the elder Chandler became vice-president, of Florida Motor Court Assn.
In 1952, the family partnership was further expanded with the Tallahassee Motor Lodge on West Tennessee St. During that same year, a luxurious restaurant, was built adjacent to the Tallahassee Motor Hotel on North Monroe St.
In 1957 the Chandlers took another giant step. The Tallahassee Motor Hotel's 30 units on North Monroe, which were luxurious in 1936, were by now noticeably dated. These were bulldozed and an entirely new facility bearing the same name built across the street on property purchased as part of the original package in 1928. In addition, it became a member of the Master Hosts referral system.
Another prime example of what upgrading can do for a property was displayed by Chandler in 1963. That year he purchased a small facility located about 18 miles from Tallahassee. "The owners lost money on it and went broke. It was AAA rated in the beginning, but this had been lost through neglect."
Chandler purchased it for about 20c on the dollar and immediately got out his AAA book on qualifications for membership, refurbished it where it fell short. "They took us back in, and we were put in on a good-paying basis. And it's been that way ever since."
Researching this line is Nancyann Norman Marr at [email protected]