This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
Volume XXXVIII, Number 3 - Summer 2012
Born in Vevey, Switzerland, Louis Fauchére (1823-1893) began his apprenticeship as a cook at the age of fifteen, after which he was employed by prestigious hotels in his native country. In 1846 he married Rosalie Perrochet, with whom he had one daughter, Marie, born two years later.
The family immigrated to the United States in 1851 and Fauchére found employment as a master chef at New York's famous Delmonico's Restaurant, opened by brothers John and Peter Delmonico, also Swiss émigrés. Early in his career in the United States, Fauchére also worked - most likely during the summer months - in New York at the Delavan House, a temperance hotel in Albany frequented by abstinent state legislators, and the Fort William Henry Hotel, a fashionable resort overlooking Lake George, opened in 1855.
In 1867, Fauchére moved to the Pike County seat of Milford, where he purchased a small saloon, the Van Gorden and La Bar, previously named the French Hotel, which is believed to have been owned by his wife's relatives who had relocated to the area as part of a French settlement in the early nineteenth century. When he advertised that Fauchére's was established in 1852, the savvy hotelier was either referring to the year he became a chef in America or the date when the French Hotel opened on the site. Although Swiss, Fauchére spoke French fluently and was known for years in Milford as "the crazy Frenchman."
Fauchére's innovative cuisine and stylish innkeeping became popular and by the late 1870s he intended to erect a larger and grander building. The original Van Gorden and La Bar building was moved to the rear of the property (and later demolished) and construction commenced on the elegant Italianate-style building that remains the heart of the hotel. Visitors over the years included a host of luminaries, from stars of stage and screen to statesmen, among them Sarah Bernhardt, Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Mae West, and Charlie Chaplin, and Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Other notable guests included Robert Frost, Ogden Nash, Andrew Carnegie, General William Tecumseh Sherman, William T. "Big Bill" Tilden II, Zan Grey, George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr., and Thomas Wolfe. The hotel's records, including guest registers bearing the names of its famous lodgers, are safeguarded by the Pike County Historical Society, headquartered in Milford.
The Fauchére family retained ownership of the hotel until 1976 when it was sold and housed offices for physicians and dentists. After the professional offices vacated, the building remained closed for a number of years until it was purchased by Richard H. Snyder and Sean Strub in 2001. They embarked on a meticulous, multi-year, multimillion dollar renovation of the historic property, which returned the architectural jewel to its former glory. The Hotel Fauchére reopened in 2006 to rave reviews by patrons and preservationists alike.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) unveiled and dedicated a state historical marker honoring the hotel and its place in American culinary history in 2007.
Since 1914, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has installed more than 2,300 state historical markers throughout the Commonwealth. Information about PHMC's marker program is available online at Pennsylvania Historical Marker Program.
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