Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
The Hotel Marshall hosted the weekly meetings of the Maershall Rotary club for over 40 years.  The Hotel Marshall was  host for most of the social events in Marshall during the first half of the twentieth century. It played a vital role in the progress and growth of the Rotary Club of Marshall Texas when it was chartered August 1, 1919, until the club moved in 1966.
The first home of the Marshall Rotary club, was the “old” Hotel Marshall, a three-storied brick building just west of what we now know as the present Hotel Marshall. The “old” Hotel Marshall, was built in 1914 by the Perkins Brothers and Ray Daniels (who later became a charter member of the Rotary Club).
The “old” Hotel Marshall and its successor, the “new” Hotel Marshall, built in 1929-1930 for just over $250,000, served as pivotal mainstays in the city’s affairs, serving as an information center for guests and visitors, and, as the primary place to conduct business in Texas for companies and traveling salesmen, and, it was a great place to conduct the weekly meetings of the new Marshall Rotary club.  The manager of the Hotel Marshall during that period, was John Keiffer, who was hired to run the hotel in 1914. He was also a charter member of the club when it was charted.   The weekly meetings were held in the opulent “Roof Garden” dining room of the hotel.
As Past President Bill Sullivan (1973-74) recalls, it was the custom of the club, to have two greeters on the ground floor to direct visitors and welcome Rotarians to the weekly meeting. Another greeter was stationed at the Roof Garden elevator, to direct them to the dining area, and yet another in the dinning area to direct them to their table. It was, as Bill relates, the custom at the time to see that Rotarians and guests were seated at different tables each meeting, to promote fellowship and diversity, and “Fairness to all concerned” (a novel way to promote the 4-Way Test). 
Both the club and hotel were huge beneficiaries of the railroad. The Texas And Pacific railroad, ran from Marshall, Texas (Yes, the railroad began in Marshall) to California, with connections to all the major cities of the United States.  The booming economy and growth of Marshall was primarily attributable to the Railroad, which was the largest employer in East Texas as well as the strategic center of commerce in the whole state.
This relationship with the Hotel Marshall continued for many happy and productive years, where forty-eight different club presidents raised the gavel to open the regular weekly meetings. With the loss of the hotel manager, John Kiefer, the rise of the automobile, and the gradual decline of the railroad’s influence and ridership, the Hotel Marshall fell on “hard times” and this happy relationship ended abruptly in 1966. 
The last regular meeting of the Rotary club in the Hotel Marshall was held in July of 1966. The synergistic partnership with the Hotel Marshall ended on a sad and bitter note. Past President William “Bill” Palmer, (1966-67) remembers it well and shares the story with us.
Without prior notice, he and the other Rotarians arrived at the hotel expecting to be ushered to the Roof Garden as usual.  Instead, they were told that they would be meeting in the hotel coffee shop that day, which surprised and infuriated everyone. 
Bill had arranged for a high-ranking official from Barksdale to come as his guest and be the program that day. After trying to speak over the clamor, his guest was so frustrated, and insulted, that he walked out of the meeting and told Bill never to invite him to speak to the club again. 
Consequently, the club changed their meeting place, and never met in the Hotel Marshall again.