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 at Faneuil Hall Marketplace; 75 on Liberty Wharf; and the newly opened 75 on Courthouse Square – Seaport, 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 served on the Board of Directors of 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.
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.
Also honored for his numerous extensive community efforts, he was granted the Beacon Award, given by the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Patriot Award, bestowed 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 $1 million for children’s charities.
Kershaw is a member of the Board of Directors of the Spirit of Adventure Council / Boy Scouts of America and is Chairman Emeritus of the Beacon Hill Business Association. He also 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.