Trisha Perez Kennealy ’92, MBA ’97 tells the story of the Battle of Lexington Green as though she had been there. Maybe that’s because she would have been if she had lived two and a half centuries ago. Kennealy, a culinary entrepreneur, owns The Inn at Hastings Park, and she spends her days 500 yards from where the battle began.
This proximity is only one of the reasons Kennealy decided to reenvision the Dana Home, a retirement residence that had long been a fixture in downtown Lexington, as an inn with a top-notch restaurant.
“I thought it was unusual that the birthplace of American liberty didn’t have a working inn,” she says.
Kennealy, who is passionate about American history, has hosted visitors from 37 countries since opening the inn in 2014. She considers it a privilege to give guests an opportunity to learn about Lexington’s past firsthand.
Lexington itself is another passion project for Kennealy. Her family moved to the town from Puerto Rico when she was 12 years old so that her father could attend Harvard Business School. They planned to stay until he finished his MBA but grew attached to their adopted town. Kennealy graduated from Lexington’s public high school, married her husband in a church on the Lexington Battle Green, and has become a community leader in town government.
That’s not to say that she hasn’t branched out. She followed in her father’s footsteps to Harvard Business School, stopping first to earn a degree from Harvard College. She worked in New York as an investment banker—a career that eventually took her and her husband to London in 2000, where they began their family. Kennealy planned to return to work after the birth of her daughter, but the economy changed quickly after 9/11. When her position was eliminated, she realized she had an opportunity to explore a lifelong interest.
Inspired by her father’s experience as an entrepreneur, Kennealy had wanted to start her own venture. Inspired by her dual Puerto Rican and Jewish heritage, in which food plays a central role, she knew that venture would most likely be culinary in nature. So she put her investment-banking career on hold and enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu London to receive training that would serve as a solid foundation for a future food entrepreneur. The rest is history.
Now one half of her inn’s library is lined with a portion of her cookbook collection. “I read cookbooks the way most people read novels,” she says.
Kennealy’s interest in food and history are happily married in her support for the Schlesinger Library. Although she has always been an active volunteer for Harvard, starting with chairing her senior class gift, her deep connection to the Schlesinger began during a visit to campus for her 10th reunion, when she was invited to view the papers of Elizabeth David, Britain’s own Julia Child, before they were cataloged. She currently serves on the Schlesinger Library Council.
“History isn’t always about what’s in the textbooks,” Kennealy says. “There is so much more information out there, and that’s the beautiful thing about what happens at the Schlesinger Library.”