Downtown Covington's Legacy of Art & Artists

To say that downtown Covington supports the arts is an understatement. 

Downtown Covington business owners are artists themselves in many ways, both in the traditional ways of thinking about art, and in more outside-the-box creative techniques of showcasing art as well. Here are the stories of the central business district merchant/artists who demonstrate skills central to the creation and  appreciation of art. 

In the middle of it all stands the landmark St. Tammany Art Association building, originally a toy store 100 years ago, now a resource providing outstanding classes, gallery exhibitions, and a mission of promoting the arts throughout the community. 

Below is a sampling of art galleries.  

Saladino Gallery, 409 E Boston St
Brunner Gallery, 215 N. Columbia St.
The Rutland Street Gallery, 828 E Rutland St
Gallery 421, 421 N Columbia St
Tripolo Gallery, 323 N. Columbia St
Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Studio Gallery, 430 Gibson St
Savoye Originals, 1601 N Collins Blvd
BB's Eclectic Creations, 203 N New Hampshire St
Covington Art & Frame, 529 N Florida St 

The list of artistic businesses is also quite impressive.

Several incredible restaurants showcase the culinary arts across downtown Covington, in every setting from elegant evening eating to the daily lunch cafe encounter. The unique Louisiana style of delicious menu favorites is well represented, but there is an array of unique dining experiences available that cater to all tastes.

There are clothing stores that range from avant-garde fashion to vintage collectibles you can wear, apparel for the young and the young-at-heart. The downtown Covington offerings include general merchandise and sporting goods stores, as well as shops for the discriminating cigar-smoking aficionado and artists who need supplies, easels, and frames for their finished products.

Since Covington is a courthouse town, there are a number of attorney offices scattered about, but even the attorneys show off their artistic skills, with one attorney the recipient of many national awards for his essays, poems, and humorous cartoon books on the legal profession itself. Google the "Bard of Boston Street" to see what we mean. 

The Tammany Trace Bike Trail runs through the middle of downtown Covington.

One place of business specializes in the beauty of glass, for pieces of art as well as large corporate architectural installations.

And speaking of art, there's a galaxy of galleries, from exhibit galleries that offer works by a wide variety of artists in a wide variety of media, to individual galleries that spotlight the creations of individual artists, many of whom are nationally-known. Art schools are also a favorite, and visitors often seek out places where the famed writer Walker Percy used to hang out. 

Photographers are among the artists with their own galleries and studios. You can often see them taking clients for a downtown walk-around for pictures and posing in front of the classic old town storefronts.

For visitors who can't see it all in just one day, award-winning boutique hotel suites and several nearby bed & breakfast accommodations are available.

As time goes on, we will be adding to this website the stories of downtown Covington merchant artists, how they discovered their niche in the art of business (and the business of art), how they laser-focused their creativity, and most of all, how they packaged and promoted their art through successful merchandising. 

So sit back, take out a map (or a smart phone GPS app) and chart your course to downtown Covington, Louisiana. 

It's the place to be to be the artist you are.

showing where Covington downtown can be found.

Antiques and Uniques Festival
Walker Percy 
The Southern Hotel
Three Rivers Art Festival Flows Into Covington 
The Columbia Street Landing Archways  
Movies Filmed In Downtown Covington 
Fall For Art
Covington Art Market

Covington Downtown

Here is a cartoon map of downtown Covington. Click on the image to make it larger. 

A message from the Southern Hotel

To view other Southern Hotel Downtown Covington Delivered videos,

The History of the Southern Hotel

     Perhaps no other building in St. Tammany Parish has had as many ups and downs in its history as the two story Southern Hotel in downtown Covington. Presently, it is in peak condition, proudly serving as an award-winning boutique hotel after extensive renovations a few years ago.

    That wasn't always the case, however. Here's an account I found in my files of the saga of the Southern Hotel between 1907, when it was first opened, and 1983, when it became offices for the parish government and the 22nd Judicial District. Here's the narrative:
     "On June 1, 1907, the Southern Hotel, a large Spanish-Mission style building on the corner of Boston and New Hampshire Streets in Covington, opened its doors with a gala banquet, entertaining guests from New Orleans, Mississippi, and various other areas.

An article about the opening of the Southern Hotel

Two Sanborn city maps, one from 1904 before the hotel was built and the other from 1909 after it was built. 

     A luxury resort hotel, it offered 43 handsomely furnished rooms, all fully carpeted. In the following years, the 72 foot by 38 foot formal dining room was to see many more extravagant dances and social affairs. From the vast kitchen, each celebration brought forth a feast of locally caught game, fish, and seafood delicacies, prepared by a chef who had, on two occasions, prepared meals for the late United States President William McKinley. 

     An artesian fountain danced in the center of the spacious lobby and expansive verandahs overlooked abundant, lush landscaping, giving it a tropical feeling. All this was enhanced by clean refreshing air and sparkling artesian water, both widely known for their curative powers.
    In 1912, Dr. F. F. Young bought the hotel and used it as a sanitarium. 

     However, several years later, the still handsome building was once again operated as a European-style resort hotel. It served as a communications center, housing a Western Union terminal, bus and wagon depot, and the only Post Office in the area.

    In 1917, the Southern Hotel filed its Articles of Incorporation for its charter. Click on the image below to enlarge the view. 

And from a 1935 visit by a New Orleans newspaper food critic:

     In 1959, Governor Earl K. Long made it his headquarters for several hours following his lunacy hearing at the old Covington High School gymnasium. 

In the 1960's, the stately edifice was closed to guests. The first floor held rental shops. The upstairs was home only to the pigeons.

     On January 8, 1981, the Parish of St. Tammany purchased the building from the Burns family for $500,000 and renovations began. Some $984,000 worth of restoration turned the old hotel into a showcase office complex and returned an historical landmark to its former elegance in downtown Covington.
     Money for the purchase and renovations came from a combination of several federal agencies in the form of loans and grants. It may be the only government building in the state, indeed the nation, housing a public bar. However, the tavern's only entrance is from the street.

    Wide and handsome brick arches across the front give the massive building an air of nobility as well as stability. It is separated from the St. Tammany Parish Courthouse by New Hampshire St., and is now officially the St. Tammany Parish Administrative Complex. It houses the Parish Administration, Parish Council, District Attorney, Part of the 22nd Judicial District Court, and the Department of Development on the second floor. The purchasing department, financial administration office, personnel, insurance and Veteran's Affairs Office along with private businesses occupy the ground floor.
     Due to the perseverance of many people and financial aid from a local benefactor, the "Old Southern Hotel" is again a showplace. More than mortar and  brick, it is a living symbol of the continuity of parish government and the people."

      And that's the end of the 1983 account. So the Southern Hotel has always played a key part in Covington's history over the past 100 or so years, and it continues to attract admiration for its newly restored 2016 splendor. Here's a link to some pictures from the past.  
      And here is a link to the new Southern Hotel website.

Here's an account of the Southern Hotel history by Les Landon.
Click on the image to view a larger, more readable version.

Click here to view a video produced by Dale Smith about the Southern Hotel. 

To download a book-length PDF book about the Southern Hotel, CLICK HERE.

Ownership List
     Over the past 110 years, the Southern Hotel property has had several owners. The building and grounds are located on Lots 12,13,14,15,and 16 in Square 9 of the Division of St John, the historic district of Covington. In the center of the block was a 50 by 38 foot parcel making up Ox Lot No. 9. The following list of owners was compiled from a variety of courthouse records. 

    In July of 1905, Harvey E. Ellis acquired the property from Hardy H. Smith. Late that same month, St. Tammany Bank acquired the piece from Harvey Ellis. On May 22, 1907, a new corporation, Southern Hotel Co. Limited (Inc) acquired the property from St. Tammany Banking and Savings Bank.

    The Southern Hotel opened its doors on June 1, 1907.

    Four years later, on April 29, 1911, records indicate that a new company called New Southern Hotel Co. took over the St. Tammany Banking Co. and Savings Bank mortgage on the building from the Southern Hotel Co. Limited.

    Six years after that, on March 12, 1917, there was an agreement signed between St. Tammany Bank and the New Southern Hotel Co. that transferred all property they acquired to the bank.

    The following year, on October 14, 1918, St. Tammany Bank and Trust acquired the property from the Southern Hotel Inc. in "settlement of mortgage debt."

     Eight years later, on May 14, 1926, Edward J. Frederick acquired the property from St. Tammany Bank and Trust and then sold three-quarters interests to several individuals. They were William E. Rau, Edward J. Frederick, Clarence E. Schonberg, and P.M. Planche.

    Two years after that, in March of 1928, those individuals formed "Covington Investments" and transferred ownership of the Southern Hotel property to that business entity.

    Twenty years passed before the next acquisition. On February 6 of 1948 Bryan D. Burns and Philip Burns acquired the hotel property from Covington Investments, which was in liquidation.

    Another 15 years passed, and the dissolved partnership of Philip Burns and Frank M. Burns resulted in Lois E. Burns (the widow of Bryan D. Burns) acquiring 52 percent of the property, Bryan D. Burns Jr. acquiring 9.6 percent, Dorothy V. Burns Stroble, acquiring 9.6 percent, Lois Jacqueline Burns 9.6 percent, and Karen Orr Burns 9.6 percent.

    Two years later, in 1965, Dorothy V. Burns, Lois Jacqueline Burns, Carol E. Burns, Bryan D. Burns Jr., and Karen Orr Burns acquired the 52 percent property ownership share from Lois E. Burns.

    On October 31, 1980, 15 years after the previous transaction, William J. Jones and Janita Schulz Jones acquired the hotel property from Dorothy V. Burns, Lois Jacqueline Burns, Carol E. Burns, Bryan D. Burns Jr., and Karen Orr Burns.

    Two months later, on January 8, 1981, St. Tammany Parish acquired the propery from William J. Jones.

    In early December of 2003, some 22 years after the previous transfer, Ozone Properties acquired the hotel building and grounds from St. Tammany Parish.

    Ozone Properties, a privately held Covington corporation, had Michael N. Pittman listed as a contact person.

    In June of 2005, Southern Hotel LLC acquired the property from Ozone Properties LLC. Southern Hotel LLC principals included Michael N. Pittman, Amy Schultz Pittman, Megan Pittman Laborde, Melisa Lane Pittman, Michael N. Pittman Jr., and Mathew S. Pittman.

    Six years later, on Nov. 17, 2011, Condrey Southern LLC acquired the property from Southern Hotel LLC.

    The current owners are listed as Condrey Southern Hotel LLC.

See also:

Frank Patecek's Store

In September of 1991 an article about Frank Patecek's store at the corner of Boston St. and Columbia St. in Covington was published in the News Banner newspaper. It was written by local historian Todd Valois. Here is the text of the article.

"Building reflects family pride
 A wonderful change was brought to one of the most recog­nized buildings on Boston Street Sept. 9 (1991). The second Patecek building received a thorough cleaning and a new coat of paint. It was high time, and the origi­nal builder's granddaughter, Paula Patecek Johnson, should be commended, as well as the Covington Historic Commission, which helped make this possible through a state grant.

Click on the images to make them larger.
The Family's History

On Oct. 27, 1882, Frank Patecek was born to Frank and Antonie Patecek of Chastova, Czechoslovakia. At 14, he left home for the first time. For five years he worked his way through Europe, eventually arriving in America in 1901.

By 1904, Patecek had made his way to New Orleans. While in the city, he contracted pneumonia and was told to go to Covington for his health. There were several east European families in the town and Patecek caught the first train to Claiborne across the Bogue Falaya River from Coving­ton.

He stayed at the Alexander Hotel on Military Road. Henry Otto Alexander, from Strusseburg, Germany, ran the popular hotel for many years.

Patecek later returned to his homeland. Two brothers, Anton and August, and one sister, Josie, then moved to Covington with him. Josie married Paul Freidlander.

A descriptive paragraph in a 1905 booklet

On Jan. 25, 1906, Patecek mar­ried Pauline Theobald, daughter of John and Mary Theobald, at her family's home "Pfalzheim" (Homeplace), north of Coving­ton. The couple had two children, Frank John (Jr.) and Bertha. Bertha later married Gustave Van Schneidau.

Patecek had learned the trade of tailoring in his European trav­els and in 1905 opened a shop on the corner of Boston and Colum­bia streets. For many years Patecek and his small family lived above the store. It was not long before the structure was known as the Patecek building.

On Nov. 4, 1917, Patecek pur­chased the building from Eugenie Wehrli. The former men's shop is  rented and houses part of Nor­man Haik Department Store. In 1927 Patecek commissioned architect and builder John Orr Edgar and his brother Max to build the second Patecek building next to the original.

Many longtime Covington resi­dents will remember the great Heberts Grill that was housed in this wonderful old building.

In 1925 the family moved into a riverfront home on Rutland Street off Columbia. On March 20, 1951, Patecek died. He was 68. Mrs. Patecek died at 82 on May 24, 1965.

On June 18, 1934, Frank John married Irma Blackwell. They had two daughters, Paula Patecek Johnson and Linda Patecek Staab. Frank John Patecek (in 1991) is a retired realtor, and before her recent death, Mrs. Patecek was a well-known public school teacher.

If Frank Patecek and his wife could see the renewed interest in downtown Covington and their descendants' participating in its rebirth, they would be very proud indeed."

The Ramblers Club: Among the people pictured are Frank Patecek Sr., Marvin Poole, John Edgar, Deed Smith, Jim Galouye, Sidney Frederick, Marshal Dulion, Cass Segond, Albert Perbos, Jake Seiler Sr., Charles Theobald, E.V. Richard, Paul LaCroix Sr., Nick Seiler, E. J. Frederick Sr., Dr. Numa Hebert, Bob Badon, Wallace Poole, Leon Hebert Sr., and Emile Frederick Sr.

Text from a 1910's advertising brochure:

"OSTENDORF & PATECEK, this firm is conducting one of the most  popular  gents'   furnishing, and  tailoring estab­lishments in this section of Louisiana.   The firm is composed of Mr. H. J. Ostendorf who has been prominently identified with the commercial affairs of Covington as manager of the Mercantile Department of Jones & Pickett.  

Prior to that time Mr. Osten­dorf occupied responsible positions in New Orleans with D. H. Holmes and Kaufman & Isaacs.  

Mr. Frank Patecek is the junior member of this firm who has been engaged in business in Coving­ton for the past six years.   He was formerly with the firm of Leon Godchaux Co. of New Orleans, prior to which time he was associated with leading tailoring houses in London, Paris and New York.  

Ostendorf & Patecek have a very attractive store in the new Hebert Building, equipped with up-to-date store fixtures and carry in stock an immense line of all kinds of gents furnish­ings and up-to-date patterns in the merchant tailoring line. They have built up a wonderfully successful trade throughout the parish of St. Tammany."

Patecek Building, 301 Columbia

Built shortly after the Great Fire of 1898, the building provides a beautiful example of turn of the century commercial architecture. For more than 120 years, 301 Columbia has housed retail stores and professional offices. It holds the distinction of its second floor being the location of Covington's first telephone exchange.

The early electric neon sign from the Frank Patecek Store is now on display at the H.J. Smith Sons General Merchandise Store and Museum across Columbia Street from the original location.

January 18, 1919 Advertisement

Patecek's Shoe Section

Advertisement Dec. 20, 1919

Advertisement November 29, 1919 


Frank John Patecek in 1976
A realtor and chairman of the St. Tammany American Bicentennial Commission

Photos of the Building Today