Built and named for Bavarian immigrant businessman Louis Grunewald, in 1908 the hotel was substantially enlarged with a 14-story, 400-room addition. The hotel’s principal facade with its rusticated base and tiers of bay windows is elaborately trimmed with Renaissance-inspired decoration in terra-cotta panels of floral and geometric motifs, garlands, and cartouches. The Roosevelt Way arched entrance is partially hidden by a modern canopy; the equally, though differently, ornate entrance on the hotel’s Baronne Street side has an intricate metal and glass canopy that is suggestive of Art Nouveau. The hotel’s signature space is the broad lobby that runs the length of the building; it glistens with marble, gilding, chandeliers, and a multicolored floor. From the 1930s, the hotel became a favored venue for New Orleanians. The Blue Room, a supper club, hosted such entertainers as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Bette Midler. The room has been restored, as has the Sazerac Bar, where the Sazerac cocktail was first concocted. The bar also contains a four-panel mural (1938) by New Orleans artist Paul Ninas (1932–1964). Huey P. Long established his campaign headquarters in the hotel in the 1930s and moved in after he was elected Louisiana’s governor. In 1923, the hotel was renamed for President Theodore R. Roosevelt (a wildlife enthusiast who had visited Louisiana in 1902 and 1915), then renamed the Fairmont in 1965. During Hurricane Katrina, the hotel’s basement, which contained the electrical and mechanical equipment, was flooded with twelve feet of water. Following a complete restoration, the hotel regained its former illustrious name.
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Roosevelt Hotel (Grunewald Hotel)
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