Thomas A. Kershaw, Chairman of the Hampshire House Corporation, has been the dynamic force behind the growth of the Hampshire House since 1969, when he purchased the property. Kershaw’s vision and energy have enabled the Hampshire House to retain its original grandeur while accommodating Bostonians and tourists for special events, private parties, weddings, and corporate functions. The main attraction to this grand mansion located at 84 Beacon Street on Beacon Hill, is the little basement bar originally known as the Bull & Finch Pub, which was copied by Hollywood for the setting of the TV show “Cheers” back in 1981. The popularity of the show combined with the success of the Bull & Finch operation has resulted in the Cheers bar becoming the world’s “most famous bar.”
With the changing landscape of Boston and the expansion of the Hampshire House Corporation to include 75 on Chestnut, a bistro at the base of Beacon Hill; a Cheers (replica pub) at Faneuil Hall Marketplace; and 75 on Liberty Wharf, a small bistro with big views on the edge of Boston Harbor. Kershaw continues to expand his role in support of the Boston community and his industry.
Taking a leadership position within Boston’s dynamic tourism and trade industries, Kershaw has served as the Chairman of the Board for the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau for eighteen years. He also serves on many boards, including The USS Constitution Museum, Friends of The Public Garden, as well as previously on the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Restaurant Association; and was its President from 1992- 1993. He has played a major role on the Board of Directors of the National Restaurant Association and was its Chairman from 1997-1998. Believing Massachusetts did not have enough money invested into its tourism sector, Kershaw created the Massachusetts Visitors Industry Council in the hopes of, and then succeeding in, alerting key politicians to the importance of tourism for the state.
As his involvement in tourism expanded, Kershaw recognized the need for a coalition to bring together all the industry stakeholders to lobby the State House on its behalf. He founded the Massachusetts Tourism Coalition and subsequently led that coalition in the effort to create the Tourism Fund, an ongoing yearly funding mechanism supporting the industries many aspects. He was awarded the Tourism Leadership Award by the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.
Kershaw also gives his time freely to help promote tourism in Boston by volunteering as Chairman of the Freedom Trail Foundation, now Chairman Emeritus, and as Chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on the Visitor Industry.
Nationally, Kershaw served on the board of the United States Travel & Tourism Administration, 1989-1996. He also has served as Chairman of the Technology Committee of the White House Conference on Travel & Tourism; Policy Committee of the Travel Business Roundtable; Executive Committee of USTMO (United States National Tourism Organization); and Executive Committee of TIA (Travel Industry Association of America).
Recognized for his contributions within the hospitality industry, Kershaw has received numerous awards and distinctions including Restaurateur of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year Award (Project Triangle), the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award given by the Boston Minute Man Council, Boy Scouts of America, and was the first inductee into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame.
He was also inducted into the Travel Industry Hall of Leaders by the Travel Industry Association of America; the Hospitality Hall of Fame by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association; the Lodging Industry Hall of Fame by the Massachusetts Lodging Association; and Entrepreneur of the Year for Massachusetts by the American Business Defense and Advisory Council. The New England Council honored Kershaw with the 2012 Shining Star Award.
As a lifelong Scout, Kershaw is a committed member on the Board of Directors of the Spirit of Adventure Council / Boy Scouts of America, where an Atrium was named after him at their headquarters. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the Beacon Hill Business Association, as well as serves on the Board of Bunker Hill Community College Foundation.
After earning degrees from Swarthmore College in 1960 and Harvard Business School 1962, Kershaw was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Johnson & Wales University in 1996. Honored for his endless readiness to give back to the community, he was granted the Beacon Award, given by the Beacon Hill Civic Association as well as the Patriot Award, by the Freedom Trail Organization.
Highlighting his commitment to the community, in 1980 Kershaw founded Cheers for Children, a non-profit which gives gifts to children who otherwise would not receive them at Christmastime. Since its inception, Cheers for Children has raised over $2 million for children’s charities.
Recognizing a need for an icon in the downtown parks during the winter months, Kershaw proposed an outdoor skating rink on Boston Common. After selling the idea to Mayor Menino, The Boston Common Frog Pond Recreational Facility was born. Offering ice skating in the winter and a “spray pond” in the summer, the Frog Pond created an activity in the area of the Boston Common where there had been none. Recognizing the demand by the mayor that the operation of this new activity area should not cost the city a dime to operate, Kershaw decided to run the facility himself. During the fourteen years Kershaw’s company operated The Frog Pond, he was not only able to meet the mayor’s directive, but he was able to invest a million dollars into the upkeep and improvement of the facilities, installing a skate rental amenity, new restrooms, a snack bar ,as well as a garage for the Zamboni. Thanks to Kershaw, The Frog Pond Skating Rink stands along with The Swan Boats, as iconic Boston activities for the community.
Most recently, another great honor bestowed upon him was The Charles Francis Adams Award from the USS Constitution Museum. It is an award that recognizes a person who has given of himself for the betterment of the community. There is no other award to best describe Thomas Kershaw’s commitment to all of Boston, Massachusetts. It is his life’s work.