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Respecting History?

It was recently brought to my attention that a historical location that is very near and dear to our organization is once again being mishandled by its management group.

The Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach as a “floating” hotel/ museum and is registered as both a historical site and a historical hotel:

National Historical Registry

RMS QUEEN MARY *** (added 1993 – – #92001714)

Also known as HMT QUEEN MARY

Pier J, 1126 Queensway Hwy. , Long Beach

Historic Significance: Event

Area of Significance: Military, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History

Period of Significance: 1925-1949

Owner: Local

Historic Function: Defense, Transportation

Historic Sub-function: Naval Facility, Water-Related

Current Function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Current Sub-function: Hotel, Museum

Here is the purpose of the National Historical Registry noted from their website:

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Queen Mary is also listed on the website of  Historic Hotels of America. This is what they have to say about the Queen Mary:

The Queen Mary

Los Angeles, California

Rich in history, The Queen Mary® is renowned as the grandest ocean liner ever built since her maiden voyage in 1936. These early years distinguished the majestic steamship as the only civilized way to travel for high society’s elite, and instantly drew the attention of celebrities like Fred Astaire, political figures like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

It is quite clear that our country on a whole recognizes the historical importance and significance of this grand ship.

So why is it so difficult for the ship’s current management to get with the program?

Time after time we’ve heard complaints that there is no money to restore her to her former glory. We’ve been told that making changes like including iPod docks in all of the staterooms is a valid way to stimulate the ship’s revenue. Some improvements have been made in the last fifteen years. A huge section of promenade decking was re-finished and replaced a few years ago by a former management company.

This ship is a virtual roller coaster of  management companies. Each one swears that it’s bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than it’s predecessor.

It’s ultimately assumed that everything the previous company did is wrong and that the new team must start over from scratch. The management companies they hire are only experienced in managing a hotel. The Queen Mary is much more than a hotel. It’s an experience. And the experience that the customer is getting leaves much to be desired.

If you come to the Queen Mary for the first time today, you will be disappointed. If you are planning to stay in a stateroom reminiscent of the opulent 30’s & 40’s you can lay that dream to rest. What you will find is  late 80’s decor covering up what’s left of the 1930’s interior: cheap carpet, ugly bedspreads, chintzy window treatments, along-side beautiful 1930’s fans that no longer work.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you roam the decks you’ll find sad displays haphazardly assembled with no regards for the integrity of the historical documents and artifacts inside. They are dusty, and often littered with rat fecal matter.

You will also find poor patch jobs in the ceiling where water damage occurs. The beautiful wood paneling which Winston Churchill himself told the soldiers during WWII mustn’t be touched is now showing the wear of its 76+ years at sea, and still awaiting restoration.

The Spa which inhabits some of the ship’s former suites has a decrepit & lackluster sign pointing the way to your “luxury” services.

If you overlook the staterooms and hallways and look instead towards the ship’s restaurants, I have some good news and some bad news. Sir Winston’s is the premiere restaurant on the ship…and for good reason. The restaurant manager J.B. is amazing. He’s been with the ship for over 10 years and truly understands how to accommodate his guests, giving them the grand reception that they would expect from a luxury liner. You will however, pay well for this privilege.

The other restaurants on the ship are poorly managed with mediocre food at best. Imagine a Denny’s ….in Compton…at midnight and you’ll begin to get a grasp for what they offer: over priced, over cooked, under whelming food. The service is slow and surly. The prices average  $15 per plate.  Oh, and by the way, if you thought you could just sit by the window while you sip your morning English Tea and pretend you’re in South Hampton, think again. The only tea you’ll find on this English ship is Lipton’s. The Duchess of Windsor is turning in her grave at this very moment.

The Queen Mary is also touted as a museum. It’s true. There are scattered exhibits (which are poorly maintained). But the guides really understand her history, architecture and art. They keep her spirit alive and are some of the nicest people I’ve met aboard the ship. They stay, not because of the great pay, nor do they stay to support her ever-changing management. They stay out of loyalty and love for this Grand Lady.

Now, so far this might just sound like another bitter yelp review(of which there are plenty). But, it was a recent find from a fellow investigator  that prompted this blog post.

In an attempt to draw in a bigger, more diverse audience and make some cold,hard cash the management has decided to let a team of motocross performers loose on the ship.

Yes , you heard me, ON THE SHIP.

This is wear I had posted a link to the YouTube video. It has since been made private.

This video demonstrates just how much these management companies understand about the property they are running.

After the video started receiving some unfavorable press there was a comment posted by one of the riders:

“All this was taken into consideration prior to filming. We worked long and hard with the Queen Mary to preserve the integrity of the ship. The locations that were used were places that had already been remodeled or altered. No historic or original locations were used. The idea was to make something cool to bring attention to such an awesome ship. There was no more harm than the average foot traffic from tourists”.

This is a still from the promo video showing the rider on the staircase of the first-class pool which is historical, original and is in serious need of repair.

If you know the ship at all, you understand that areas like the First Class Pool, the engine room, and boiler rooms are indeed original and historical areas. While they weren’t doing burn-outs on board, the weight and pressure of the bike is damaging and disrespectful. This isn’t the type of attention or the type of event that the ship needs . I don’t blame the riders. I blame the management for, once again, sending the wrong message to the public.

They need to restore the ship and teach the public how to appreciate her rich history. Instead, they throw money away on poorly thought out, poorly planned events which further her destruction. We should treat her as we would the White House, not treat her like a convention center filled with carnival acts. We should continue to view her as she was intended. She might not sail any longer but she could still offer people the experience of a lifetime.

It’s time for the company who manages her to show that they understand the difference between RENOVATION and RESTORATION.  She is an important part of history and instead of updating her, she needs to be brought back to life.

A friend recently posted this information for those of us who like to become more active in helping The Queen Mary:

If you want to voice your concerns and speak out about the horrible mistreatment of the Queen Mary, send an email or call the following:

Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal – The Queen Mary is in her district (she is also counsel person for district 2), so she should be watching out for the damage being done to historic landmarks on 2 levels. She can be reached at district2@longbeach.gov,   Suja.Lowenthal@longbeach.gov,   ph:562-570-6684.

Mr. Milford Wayne Donaldson – Head of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  They can take a more active role in trying to stop the management where we can’t. You can read more about the SHPO and get further contact information here:http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21755,  mwdonaldson@parks.ca.gov,   ph: 916-445-7050.

If enough of us speak out and demand they do something, there is a good chance they will. Please spread this information to as many people you know and get them to write or call in too.

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