The Jack Tar Harrison boasted the most modern of amenities, including drive-through registration.
he Jack Tar Harrison Hotel of the 1960s was described in the hotels own promotion as a Brilliantly Modern Motor Inn, with its owners determined to be in on the high-speed automation craze then sweeping the country. By 1963, the hotel was being advertised as a full scale major convention center. It had been renovated yet again and now offered a closed-circuit TV registration system wherein guests could drive into the Auto Lobby, register at the TV desk, and receive their keys by pneumatic tube. After a quick park in the garage, they could reach their rooms by self-service elevator.
The new amenities included the Gas Buggy Lounge with a supper club environment that quickly became famous for its roast beef dinners and musical entertainment. The Gas Buggy also became a favorite watering hole for local businessmen and women who would adjourn there after a busy workday.
An authentic Japanese garden was also added to the grounds. At night, the garden was amber-lit and guests could hold special events and receptions on the warmer winter or early spring evenings.
But during this time, the Fort Harrison Hotel garnered a unique place in rock and roll history, for it was there that Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones wrote the classic hit (Cant Get No) Satisfaction.
As the story goes, Richards wrote the song in his Jack Tar Harrison hotel room after the Stones returned from performing at the Jack Russell Stadium. The concert was a bust for Clearwater fans who got no satisfaction because the police stopped the show after only four songs when some of the audience grew too boisterous. But the world of rock and roll got Satisfaction the song as a result of the Stones stay at the Fort Harrison.
As in other decades, each New Years Eve allowed the Fort Harrison to shine as the center of society.
In addition to the annual New Years Gala in the ballroom, local residents and snowbirds would book every other possible hotel space for the dozen or more New Years parties. A well-connected socialite might end up attending them all, spending the evening dancing, dining and drinking champagne with Clearwaters leading citizens.
Mrs. Meginley of Clearwater remembers the ballroom of the Jack Tar Harrison as The place to have big parties. Women would wear long gowns, beautiful jewelry and were dressed to the nines. I shall never forget it and what a fun part of my life [was] there.
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