Taking the corporate reigns

Moseley making a name
for self at Galt House

Schneider’s daughter passes test
in guiding the multi-million renovation of hotel

By Don Ward

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 2005) – Mary Moseley sits in a plush, purple lounge chair above Fourth Street, peering out the window of the 21/2-story glass-roof Conservatory that connects the Galt House Hotel & Suites twin towers in downtown Louisville. It is here where she often sneaks away from her 18th floor office to indulge her sweet tooth by nibbling on a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie and soaking up the almost tropical atmosphere.

Mary Moseley

Photo by Don Ward

Mary Moseley has directed
the $60 million renovation
of the Galt House Hotel & Suites in Louisville. She
poses with her new
“Gallop to Glory”
tribute to jockeys.

“The Conservatory is really the centerpiece and the part of the renovation that we get the most comments about,” said Moseley, 55. “Isn’t it wonderful in here?”
Employees and customers warmly greet her as they pass by. Some even stop to express their congratulations and compliments on the newly renovated Galt House, a $60 million project that is still under way.
Moseley takes it all in, fondly reminiscing about the hotel’s history and the place where she has spent much of her life toiling as a teenager and adult for her father, the late Al J. Schneider, who built the place in the early 1970s.
Schneider, who also built the Executive Inn and Executive West hotels near the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center, is credited with the foresight of locating a hotel on the Ohio River. At that time, the area was surrounded by industry and a train track running along the riverfront. There were no restaurants, museums or theaters lining the neighboring boulevards; no interstate highway or trolleys carrying shoppers to nearby stores and art galleries.
Today, the Galt House sits in the heart of downtown Louisville’s revived cultural and entertainment center. And the twin towers of the Galt House remain as the only downtown hotel on the river. What’s more, the Galt House sits at the north end of Fourth Street, which itself has become an active thoroughfare for tourists and residents alike who migrate there to dine and shop at the newly opened Fourth Street Live! and along nearby streets.
Just prior to his death in May 2001 at age 86, Schneider began preparing Moseley to carry on the day-to-day management of the family business, Al J. Schneider Co., as its president. The third of six children, she has inherited the day-to day operation of the 1,300-room hotel, which still ranks as Louisville’s largest. The Galt House also boasts 150,000 square feet of convention and meeting space, with the city’s largest ballroom seating 2,000 people, and dozens of business offices located in an adjacent tower facing Main Street.

Mary Moseley

Photo by Don Ward

Mary Moseley poses beside the aviary inside
the Conservatory, a glass-roof pedway
connecting the towers.

“About 18 months before he died, he called us all together and said, ‘Mary is going to take the lead,’ “Moseley recalled. “He told me the names of several people who would help me along the way.”
Three of her four 50-something sisters plus two nephews sit on a board and they meet weekly to discuss the renovation and operations (one sister is deceased and her brother is not involved because of his health).
“If wasn’t until after Dad died that we could ever go forward with a renovation like this because Dad thought everything looked just fine the way it was,” Moseley said. “Even after he became ill, we didn’t want to go forward out of respect for him. He was very conservative and very practical. But we felt that it was outdated, and we knew we had to do something. Today, people like a little more fluff.”
And with several new hotels opening nearby plus renovations of existing ones in progress, the sisters knew they had to either sell out or renovate to keep up with the changing tastes of today’s tourists and business travelers. This meant larger suites, more amenities and a brighter, cheerier, more contemporary atmosphere.
They chose to renovate and retain ownership of their father’s signature hotel. It was nearly a year after Schneider’s death before the project officially got started.
And at forefront is Moseley, a former schoolteacher and admitted “homebody” who loves gardening but now has suddenly found herself thrust into the limelight of the corporate business world. According to business associates, she has had no trouble adjusting to her new role. And she would make her father proud, said Linda Hubbuch, whose husband, Glenn, was a close associate of Al Schneider. Glenn Hubbuch’s father, the late Cornelius Hubbuch, had been a close friend of Schneider’s. Together, the two had decorated the original Galt House Hotel.

Galt House Lobby
Galt House Lobby

As a result, Hubbuch & Co. was hired as the interior designers for the renovation project. Glenn conceived and designed the signature Conservatory, which straddles Fourth Street between the twin hotel towers and features a deli named after Al Schneider’s late wife, Thelma, who died in 1995, and bar affectionately named “Al J’s.” The bar itself is a novelty, with its tropical fish tank running the length of the bar and its expansive, open-air glass ceiling high above the passageway. The Conservatory also features a large aviary.
“Just working with her was delightful,” said Linda Hubbuch, who did the interior design for the suites. “She’s such a nice person and did a wonderful job, considering all the pressure and tight budgets she had to meet. She had a good business sense of what had to be done, and she saw it through.”
Since taking over, Moseley has joined two important boards – that of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Louisville Main Street Association. She has impressed both groups with her insight and business savvy, officials said.
Jim Wood, executive director of the Louisville CVB, said, “As representative for the Galt House ownership group, Mary has really stepped up to the plate, and it has shown in the renovation, the increased occupancy rate and the financial commitment they have put into it. It’s a great example of putting your money where your mouth is. It just shows the family’s firm commitment to making Louisville’s downtown a better place.”
Main Street’s director, Carol Hensley, added, “We’re all very proud that she’s a board member; she’s a wonderful person and obviously very intelligent and successful. And the Galt House renovation has been such a great addition to Main Street.”
Moseley, meanwhile, would be the first to admit that she had plenty of help.
Though the Schneider sisters – Christe Coe, Dawn Hitron, Nancy O’Hearn and Moseley – comprise the Galt House’s management group, Moseley has leaned on many of her father’s associates and confidants to guide the hotel’s reincarnation as a first-class facility.

Al Schneider
Al Schneider

One is Russell McClure, a former business associate of her father’s who still handles the company’s insurance as president of The Cauttrell Agency Inc. He says he is impressed with Moseley’s handling of what would be a challenging mission for any business executive.
“Al Schneider was the type of guy who never wrote anything down; he just had a natural feel for doing things. He was a hands-on administrator with only an eighth-grade education who did not delegate anything until he had established trust with the person. He was a bit rough around the edges, but I came to know him as a sort of father figure,” McClure said.
“Mary, on the other hand, has the kind of people skills that make people like her. She is bold and intelligent and highly educated, and I’m very proud of her. She has taken the Galt House in a new direction.”
With the East Tower renovation completed last spring and 600 rooms still to be renovated in the West Tower, Moseley is far from through with the renovation. She also plans to add a rooftop garden that will connect the office tower to the Club 360 Fitness Center, which recently opened atop the East Tower.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment to see the results of our work come to pass,” Moseley said. “It’s still very challenging, but I’ve had a lot of moral support from my friends and family.”
Perhaps her most prized addition is the recently added permanent display outside the East Tower called “Gallop to Glory,” a tribute to Kentucky Derby jockeys featuring their handprints etched in cement.
She already has 15 handprints of the 30 living jockeys in stone, including that of Ron Turcotte, who rode famed Secretariat to glory.
Inside the Galt House East, she has renovated The Tavern on the mezzanine level and turned it into another tribute to jockeys, calling it the Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar, and moving the 118-brand bourbon collection there from its former location in the D’ Marie Lounge atop the West Tower. It is decorated with horse racing memorabilia.
“I wanted to do something for the jockeys and create something that would tie the Galt House to Churchill Downs and the Derby,” Moseley said.
Moseley has more ideas but is moving cautiously and slowly toward the project’s completion. She has even left some of the dark red colors in some areas of the renovated halls as a lasting memory of her father. “Dad loved red; he was a carpenter by trade, and he loved the dark, red woods. So we tried to honor that.”
Moseley is often asked what she thinks her father would say if he could see his Galt House today. She radiates a smile but doesn’t immediately answer.
From the look on her face, she already knows.

Back to June 2005 Articles.



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