Originally open in 1907, the Southern Hotel in Covington originally served seasonal visitors escaping biting New England winters and stifling New Orleans summers. For six decades it welcomed guests to the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain before closing in the sixties as a victim to changing travel patterns and shifting spatial demographics. In the years following, the building housed commercial tenants and St. Tammany Parish government offices before finally falling vacant in the years after Hurricane Katrina.
In 2011 new ownership recognized the inherent character and possibility of the building despite a severely aged façade and years of piecemeal interventions and set about remaking it into a working hotel. Interior layouts drawn from historical Sanborn maps echo the original plan with adjustments for modern use. Outside, the team stripped away incongruous additions and replaced a hot tarmac parking lot with a lush interior courtyard, bounded by the addition of the hotel ballroom. Thoughtful relationships to the street and sidewalk activate the ground floor public spaces, which lift many guest rooms above the street level for privacy and views.
With expertise both in renovation and historic tax credits, Trapolin-Peer Architects worked closely with the owner to offset 40% of the construction costs with Louisiana and Federal subsidies to restore the gracious character of the original hotel.