An Era of Grandeur
When the then 116-year-old hotel reopened in 2009, it had not been seen by the public eye since Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana coast and devastated New Orleans in August 2005. In restoring the entire hotel the goal was to celebrate the history of the building, find the beauty of details that were covered throughout the years, bringing back some real grandeur to the hotel.
Even the name Roosevelt is a resurrection of the past. An icon in the local community for decades.
In 1893, the property opened as The Grunewald hotel. It became The Roosevelt in 1923. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts acquired it in 1965. Last year, Natchitoches-based Dimension Development Co. bought the property and names it The Roosevelt New Orleans, where it will be managed by Hilton Hotels Corp. under their Waldorf Astoria brand flag.
Renovating the building has revealed some interesting finds for the team. Behind old fuses, workers found pennies, which were used long ago to improve the electrical connection. The public can also experience many other restoration finds when they visit the hotel.
- Mechanical systems were moved from the basement to better prepare the building for future storms. The hotel no longer needs chillers, because chilled water — used to run air conditioning and other systems — is now bought from Entergy.
- Mosaic tile was once covered by carpet is now re-exposed throughout the hotel’s main lobby.
- A remake of the Blue Room is complete with gleaming chandeliers and architectural details that delight. The space is now used for events such as weddings, banquets, Sunday Brunch and live entertainment that appeals to all ages.
- Architectural elements that were hidden for decades, such as handmade plaster work in elevator lobbies, mosaic floors and coffered ceilings are now seen throughout the hotel.
- The Sazerac Bar, fully restored, is where patrons can once again enjoy the Art Deco-style murals by artist Paul Ninas and woodwork surrounding the bar giving it a welcoming warmth. Ninas, a pioneer modernist, moved to New Orleans in 1932 and painted the murals shortly thereafter.
- On the outside of the hotel, workers found a Grunewald sign that had been covered with pieces of lead for about 85 years. The sign is now re-exposed at the University Place entrance.