St. Louis Hotel
Rivers & Bartels, Proprietors: from Royal to Chartres Street.


Reminiscent of the halcyon days of the Crescent City, and suggestive of many historical events that took place within its walls, the Hotel Royal, formerly the St. Louis, is one of the most striking structures of the city. The foundation stone of this magnificent building was laid in the year 1836. It was at first intended to cover the entire block, but the financial crisis of 1837 interfered with that ambitious project. A building, however, was erected on the present site at a cost of $1,500,000, that for grandeur and adaptability to its uses still compares with the most modern erections here or elsewhere. In 1841 a fire destroyed the whole building, but the enterprise of that day, equal even to this trying emergency, soon replaced it, and it shortly became one of the most celebrated houses of the South.

A description of this house published many years ago says: "One of the most pleasing reccollections of the palmy days of the St. Louis is the annual series of Bals de Societe, or subscription balls, that took place every winter in its magnificent ball room, then fronting St. Louis street. Nowhere else could a better idea of Creole beauty and elegance be realized so well as at those delightful gatherings. Particularly vivid to the survivors of that period is the remembiance of a magnificent Bal Traveste given in the winter of 1842-43, and, above all, of the splendid entertainment gotten up the same winter in honor of Henry Clay's visit, by his New Orleans friends and admirers. The subscription price was $100, and there were two hundred subscribers, the ball and supper costing $20,000! Over six hundred ladies and gentlemen attended the banquet, and the great Commoner spoke in public for the first and only time in New Orleans.

The Constitutional Convention, 1843, which embraced every man of talent and influence in Louisiana, including John R. Grymes, Soule, Roselius, Mazuieau, Roman, Downs, Conrad, Marigny, Brent and Eustis, was held in the old St. Louis ball room.

The St. Louis Exchange (Alvarez,) was for a long period the favorite resort of all the leading planters, politicians and merchants of the day. From 12 (noon) until 3 in the afternoon the splendid rotunda was occupied by the auctioneers, whose resounding appeals were in the English, French and Spanish languages. The rotunda, renowned for its magnificent frescoing, then served the purposes of a Chamber of Commerce, Board of Brokers and Cotton Exchange. The political conventions of the old Whig and other great parties were also held there.

The subsequent history of this remarkable house is quite as interesting, but being better known its recital would be unnecessary. As is also well known, it has passed into the hands of the State, from whom it has been leased by Messrs. Bartels & Rivers for a long term. It has been entirely remodeled and modernized, and now in its interior appointments will rival any of the great hotels in other cities. It contains 250 rooms, and will hereafter be known as the Hotel Royal.


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New Orleans History, 1897-1917