Reminiscences of the New Orleans Fairmont-Roosevelt Hotel
(Photography by John DeMajo)

Located at 123 Baronne Street in New Orleans, The Fairmont Hotel (previously the Roosevelt Hotel) originally opened in 1893 as "The Grunewald". After a few years of operation, it was purchased by a group of New Orleans investors and renamed "The Roosevelt Hotel" (in honor of late former president Theodore Roosevelt). The long time manager in this era was Seymour Weiss. Weiss continued to reside in the penthouse of the Roosevelt even after the sale of the hotel to the Fairmont Hotels and Resorts chain in 1965, and his holdings included many famous works or art..

"The Blue Room" at the hotel was one of the country's outstanding venues for dance bands and musical acts.. The hotel also formerly hosted "The Cave", considered by some the first nightclub in the United States, as well as the Sazerac Bar, the Fountain Lounge, Bailey's Restaurant, and other notable eateries and lounges.

The Fairmont New Orleans was severely damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While some repair work was done, work was suspended in an incomplete state in March of 2007 after the scope of the damage was found to be greater than originally estimated.

On August 24, 2007, an announcement was made to the effect that Dimension Development Company of Natchitoches, Louisiana had purchased the property and that the hotel would be renovated and reopened as a Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Speculation is that the hotel will be renamed "the Roosevelt".

The Roosevelt was originally built as the GRUNEWALD HOTEl. Photo above is from the LOUIS Digital Library, shows the hotel's exterior at the time it opened.
 
An early photo of a typical guest room at the Roosevelt.
 
 

For those of us who remember and miss the grandeur of the Roosevelt / Fairmont, we offer these pre-Katrina photos of the hotel taken during Christmas season.

The Roosevelt main lobby
 
On e of the Roosevelt's ornate brass elevator doors
 
At the Roosevelt, it was possible to mail a letter on any floor. Letters placed into the mail chute collected in this ornate brass mailbox.
 
The Fairmont Court Lounge
 
Entrance to the Sazarac Bar. Prior to World War II, the Sazerac admitted men only. Ladies were not allowed to drink at the bar.
The famous Sazerac Bar of the Roosevelt Hotel
The Blue Room. This famous room rivaled top echelon hotel entertainment spots in New York and Chicago. Bands from the Jazz and "Swing Era" performed here including Louis Armstrong, Castro Carazo, Ralph Flannigan, Tommy Reed, Jan Garber, and later Leon Kelner.
Each Christmas, the hotel lobby became a fantasy fairy land of angel hair and Christmas trees stretching a full city block.
 
Throughout the years, the Roosevelt's Teddy Bear Teas, at Christmas time, have been extremely popular with area children and their parents.
 
If anyone out there has photos of the Roosevelt that you would like to display on this page, please contact me and I will be happy to include them. Photo credit will be gladly included.
 
If you enjoy photos of historic hotels, be sure to visit our site highlighting the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA. CLICK HERE
 
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