The man who founded the Desmond Hotel and designed much of its unique architecture died late Saturday.
John K. Desmond, 90, of Chestnut Hill, Pa., is best known in this area for the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center. It opened in 1974, after he drove along Wolf Road one night and could not find a hotel. The commercial stretch was mostly farms at the time, and he theorized that a hotel near the Albany International Airport would do well, according to the hotel’s published history.
From the start, the Desmond had its trademark indoor courtyard. Desmond wanted to create the appearance of a village square, which included mock storefronts, sidewalks and balconies overlooking the square.
Desmond designed much of it himself, according to the hotel. He also picked out many of the pieces of artwork, including the intricate model sailing ships in the lobby and restaurants.
In recent years, the hotel has been managed by his grandson Tyler Desmond, but he remained active in the business until he died,.
“He was going over everything from the design, the wallpaper, to how the numbers are,” said his son Ken Desmond, a Daily Gazette advisory board member.
His father didn’t let things slide. His mantra was, “If you’re going to do it, do it right,” Ken Desmond said.
But he didn’t just run a hotel.
“His true passion was restoring antique airplanes,” his son said. “He had quite a collection.”
He also had a work crew, which he oversaw as he became less able to make repairs himself. That, too, he continued until the end, his son said.