|Poydras Street: the central corridor
of the New Orleans business district is minutes away from the Superdome,
the Convention Center, and the historic French Quarter. This is
home to a gleaming procession of modern skyscrapers and the majestic
setting for one of the grandest hotels in New Orleans, Le Pavillon.
Such urban bustle was not always the scene along this parcel of land,
once part of the huge plantation belonging to Mr. Jean Gravier, one
of the leading citizens of early New Orleans. The property had originally
belonged to the Jesuits, who purchased it directly from the Sieur
de Bienville, the founder of New Orleans. It fell into Mr. Gravier's
hands after the Jesuits were expelled from the region. The plantation
produced primarily sugar cane and indigo; but as Gravier's fortune
declined, so did the condition of the land.
|By the turn of the 19th century, the
area was a forbidding outward fringe of the city, described by a
writer of the time as a place of "foul deeds and midnight murders…the
dismal willows could be heard uttering plaintive sounds with every
gust of wind." Cypress thickets and cemeteries, treacherous
bogs inhabited by mosquitoes, bats, hoot owls and runaway slaves;
the land was a place where "no ordinary courage was required
to venture alone". The night was filled with sounds of wild
men and beasts, the air thick with intrigue and desperate plots.
|Poydras Street was at this time a canal;
a murky stagnant ditch leading into a basin that formed a weed choked
pond popular as a hunting spot for geese and snipe. The street leading
to the canal, which runs the length of the current hotel property,
has borne the names of the god Bacchus,
Governor Manuel de Salcedo the Spanish brigadier
general and Baronne de Carondelet wife of Baron Carondelet,
who supposedly planted a rose garden near the spot where the street
intersected the canal. The garden failed, but her name remains attached
to the street to this day. The area as a whole was known at the time
as Faubourg Ste. Marie.
|In the early 1830's, the land was reclaimed
and filled in by the oldest railroad in the city, the New Orleans
and Carrollton, which extended Baronne Street across the Basin Gravier.
Some of the newly restored land, on which the Hotel now stands, remained
part of the railroad holdings. Hence the name of the short street
running along the Hotel, Carroll Street. The railroad built its main
depot on this site. Their horse cars connected with the steam
trains from Tivoli Circle (now Lee Circle) and ran six miles upriver
to the thriving village of Carrollton.
|After the railroad depot fell into disuse,
the building was remodeled to accommodate circuses, traveling shows
and other spectacles. The old edifice was replaced in 1867 by the
National Theatre, frequently called the German Theatre. This was
the scene of performances ranging from the sublime to the absurd.
|In the 1870's, the property became embroiled
in a series of legal wranglings that continued through the rest
of the century and went all the way to the United States Supreme
Court. The city attempted a variety of maneuvers to claim the land,
but ultimately lost the battle. The property at this time was owned
by Mr. Philip Werlein, founder of the famous music store; the German
Theatre became known as Werlein Hall. The building was destroyed
by a fire of suspicious origin in 1889.
|In 1899, after the final disposition
of the legal proceedings, La Baronne Realty Company acquired the
property and erected
a spectacular palace called the New Hotel Denechaud . The old Hotel
Denechaud had stood on the corner of Carondelet and Perdido Streets,
and had been considered perhaps the finest hotel in the South. The
new hotel was intended to carry on its great tradition of continental
splendor even further.
|The eminent New Orleans architects Toledano
and Woggan assisted by Rathbone E. DeBuys, designed the new structure.
Construction was by the New York firm of Milliken Brothers and was
completed in 1907. The Hotel achieved new heights of elegance
and luxury. Among its more unusual features, were the first hydraulic
elevators ever to be installed in New Orleans, and the first basement
ever built in the city. Electric lighting was also among the array
of then-modern features.
|The new Hotel Denechaud received instant
international acclaim as a monument to refined taste and luxurious
accommodation. In the hey day of grand hotels, the Denechaud
was one of the grandest. A seemingly endless parade of famous people
passed through its doors, and events of great glamour and magnitude
were held under its roof. Through wars, prohibition, the Great
Depression, and the advent of the horseless carriage, the Hotel
sustained and enhanced its reputation as one of the finest in the
|In 1970, ownership of the hotel passed
into new hands, and a major restoration project was undertaken.
While maintaining an extraordinary sensitivity to the beauty of
the original architecture and interior design, a bevy of modern
luxury features were added; wedding the glory of the past to the
refinements of the present. Crystal chandeliers from Czechoslovakia,
marble floors from several locations around the continent, marble
railings from the lobby of the Grand Hotel in Paris, spectacular
Italian columns and statues to grace the exterior, and fine art
and antiques from the world over have found a home in New Orleans.
Here they are joined by high-tech communications capabilities, a
variety of convenient guest services, and all the amenities a modern
hotel should provide. The spacious, exquisitely furnished
rooms and suites welcome each visitor to a comfortable, deluxe home
away from home. To complete
the renaissance of this living legend, the hotel was renamed
| In a steel and glass world of lightning-paced
uniformity, the age of grand hotels almost seems like ancient history.
Only a privileged few of today's travelers are fortunate enough to
find themselves surrounded by the timeless luxury and magnificent
service that are the reminders of a more genteel time of relaxing
days and sophisticated sparkling nights. Such a place, such a time,
lives on today in the historic magnificent Le Pavillon Hotel.
June 24, 1991 Le Pavillon was placed on the National Register of
Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.