our namesake

Perle Mesta

Discover the person behind the name of our historic neighborhood and local park — the dynamic Perle Mesta.

who was

Perle Mesta?

She was born Pearl Mesta (she changed it to the more exotic Perle later in life) in Michigan in 1889 and moved to Oklahoma City with her father William Skirvin, oilman and owner of the Skirvin Hotel which was also their family home. She left town in 1917 and married steel baron George Mesta who soon left her widowed with a substantial fortune which, when combined with her father’s inheritance, made her one of the wealthiest women in America.

Perle moved to Washington because she was active in women’s rights and empowerment and she quickly learned she could increase her influence by bringing important people together in a relaxed atmosphere. She became very close to Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and Truman even made her Ambassador to Luxembourg. Her place in history was assured when legendary composer Irving Berlin created a Broadway musical based on her life, Call Me Madame, in which she was declared “the hostess with the mostest’.”

For thirty years, beginning in the 1940s, Perle Mesta reigned over Washington, DC society, hosting expensive parties which brought together a mix of people with the sole purpose of having fun, “Whether I give a party in New York or London or Hollywood or Washington, I like to have guests who are in the thick of things,” she said.

"At times in recent years I have been referred to as the 'Hostess with the Mostes', a title which has always puzzled me. The mostes’t what? Some people seem to think it is the mostes’ money, but it certainly isn’t. It’s certainly not the mostes’ glamour or beauty. Nor is it the mostes’ savoir-faire. And I hope that those who call me the Hostess with the Mostes’ are not referring to my weight!

"I like to mix people, the uppers, the middles and the lowers, the sours and the sweets,” she explained to an interviewer. “If there are too many dull ones, I put some aside for the next occasion."