The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel

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The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel
The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel towers behind buildings along Canal Street
Hotel chain Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
General information
Location New Orleans, Louisiana
Address 123 Baronne Street
Opening 1893
Owner First Class Hotels
Management Hilton Hotels
Design and construction
Architect H. C. Koch & Sons
Other information
Number of rooms 369
Number of suites 135
View of the hotel in its early years as "The Grunewald"
View in the Cave in the Grunewald Hotel in the early 1900s

The Roosevelt New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana, was built by Louis Grunewald, a German immigrant, and opened in 1893 as "The Grunewald". In 1908, a major 400 room expansion was added which is shown as the main portion in the postcard. This expansion was designed by the Milwaukee architectural firm, H. C. Koch & Sons. After various expansions it was purchased by a group of New Orleans investors and renamed "The Roosevelt Hotel" (in honor of late former president Theodore Roosevelt) in 1923.

The long-time manager in that era was Seymour Weiss, a confidant of U.S. Senator and Louisiana Governor Huey Long who had a 12th-floor suite. During the 1930s, when he was a U.S. senator, Long used a suite at the Roosevelt as his Louisiana headquarters and effective residence when he was physically in Louisiana.[1]

The Roosevelt was acquired by First Class Hotels in 1965. Although officially renamed The Fairmont (at first the "Fairmont Roosevelt", later the "Fairmont New Orleans"), for decades the hotel continued to be called "The Roosevelt" by many locals.

When it was the Grunewald Hotel it hosted "The Cave", considered by some the first nightclub in the United States. It featured waterfalls, stalactites, and chorus girls dancing to Dixieland jazz. As the Roosevelt, a new night club, "The Blue Room", was opened and was long a well known venue of nationally touring musical acts.

The Fairmont was known for the Sazerac Bar and the Sazerac Room for the finest dining (see also Peychaud's Bitters). Another restaurant in the Fairmont—"Bailey's"—was for decades known as one of the few places open all odd hours of the night and early morning serving food significantly better than cheap diners or bar food. The main lobby area was elaborately decorated each Christmas season, and many locals made visiting the Christmas display at "the Roosevelt" part of their yearly holiday tradition.

The Fairmont New Orleans was damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and closed indefinitely. While some repair work was done, work was suspended in an incomplete state in March 2007 after preliminary estimates of the damage were revealed to have been greatly underestimated.[2]

On August 24, 2007, Sam Friedman, a son of the late Louisiana State Senator Sylvan Friedman of Natchitoches Parish,[3] of Dimension Development Company of Natchitoches, Louisiana, announced the purchase of the Fairmont Hotel by First Class Hotels for $17 million from the owners, Roosevelt Ventures, LLC. Also announced was the plan to spend $100 million to convert the hotel to one of Hilton's premium hotels in their Waldorf Astoria Collection chain. The final restoration cost surpassed $170 million.

First Class Hotels remodeled the 504-room 135-suite luxury hotel as part of Hilton's Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts line. On reopening of the hotel in 2009, the owners reverted the name of the hotel to the "Roosevelt" title it had held from 1923 to 1965.[4] The Roosevelt Hotel reopened to the public at 3 PM on July 1, 2009 with a ribbon cutting in the main lobby by the First Class Hotels ownership group represented by Allan Rose, Sam Friedman, Jack Guenther, Neil Freeman, and Lod Cook.

The Roosevelt rolled out the red carpet for a historic grand-opening gala weekend October 23, 2009 featuring world-famous New Orleans entertainers and the introduction of chef John Besh’s Domenica Restaurant and the acclaimed Guerlain Spa, benefiting area non-profits.


  1. ^ Theodore P. Mahne, "The Legend of Huey P. Long" in Times-Picayune, 1 July 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, pp. A1, A8.
  2. ^ Restoration work suspended at historic New Orleans hotel, March 2007.
  3. ^ "Paul F. Stahls, Jr., "Roosevelt Returns: This downtown New Orleans hotel has a long and colorful past -- and future", July–August 2009". Retrieved September 9, 2009. 
  4. ^ Theodore P. Mahne, "Grand old hotel holds happy memories" in Times-Picayune, 1 July 2009, Saint Tammany Edition, p. A8 (web version = "Former employee recalls the glory days of the Roosevelt Hotel").

External links[edit]

Preceded by
St. Charles Hotel
Tallest building in Louisiana
Succeeded by
Hibernia Bank Building