The Southern Hotel

     The Southern Hotel in downtown Covington offers an outstanding accommodation in true Southern Hospitality fashion. The award-winning boutique hotel enjoys a rich history as the center of Covington's downtown activities over the past 100 years.

     "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.

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.

And from a 1935 visit by a famous 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 empty.

     On January 8, 1981, the Parish of St. Tammany purchased the building from the Burns family for $500,000 and the first round of extensive 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."

 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 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.