Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 148;
Hotel History: Hotel Monteleone (1886), New Orleans, Louisiana*
By Stanley Turkel, CMHS
The oldest hotel in the French Quarter is the Monteleone Hotel, with its ornate baroque facade, which was built in 1886 in the Beaux-Arts architectural style. It remains one of the few longstanding family-owned hotels in the United States.
Antonio Monteleone arrived in New Orleans from Sicily in 1880 and set up his cobbler's shop on Royal Street. In 1886, he bought a small hotel on the corner of Royal and Iberville Streets and merged it with the Commercial Hotel. Since then, the Monteleone family has expanded five times. One of the few family hotels to survive the Depression years, the Hotel Monteleone remained unchanged until the fourth expansion in 1954 when the original building was demolished for a new building that contains guestrooms, ballrooms, dining rooms, and cocktail lounges. In 1964, the fifth and final major expansion added more guestrooms and a Sky Terrace with a swimming pool and cocktail lounge.
The hotel's famed grandfather clock still chimes in the lobby surrounded by polished marble floors and gleaming brass lamps. The legendary Carousel Bar revolves every fifteen minutes and the elegant Queen Anne Ballroom hosts fashionable parties and memorable events. Some of Americas most renowned authors including Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Truman Capote were frequent visitors. References to the hotel and its Carousel Bar appear in Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo and Orpheus Descending; Rebecca Wells's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere; Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers; Richard Ford's A Piece of My Heart; Eudora Welty's A Curtain of Green; Gerald Clarke's Capote: A Biography; Early Stanley Gardner's Owls Don't Blink; Ernest Hemingway's Night Before Battle and Harry Stephen Keeler's The Voice of the Seven Sparrows.
The Hotel Monteleone's Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge is the only revolving bar in New Orleans. The 25-seat bar turns on 2000 large steel rollers, pulled by a chain powered by a one-quarter horsepower motor at a constant rate of one revolution every 15 minutes. During the 1950s and 1960s, the Carousel Bar was the site of a popular nightclub, the Swan Room, where musicians such as Liberace and Louis Prima performed. The Carousel Bar celebrated its 60th anniversary in July 2009.
*excerpted from my book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013)
About Stanley Turkel, CMHS
Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.
Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by The New York Times. His fourth hotel book was described by The New York Times: "Nostalgia for the City's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's...fact-filled...Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf."
Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi is available for purchase from the publisher by visiting bookstore.authorhouse.com.