Southern Hotel Featured on WVUE Fox 8

26 May 2014

As the official reopening of the Southern Hotel draws near, Rob Masson of WVUE Fox 8 gets the story.

107 year old Covington hotel gets new life

WVUE Fox 8

23 May 2014

COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) – The biggest economic development project in downtown Covington in the past 10 years could lure a whole new set of visitors.

Workers are wrapping up the $8 million historic renovation at the long-dormant Southern Hotel.

Built in 1907, the Southern Hotel is filled with history.

“It was a big deal,” said owner Lisa Ward. “It was used as a retreat from New Orleans to the south, and the north in the winter.”

Former Gov. Earl Long once gave a speech from the balcony while he was being treated nearby for mental problems. And wild animals were once kept in the lobby.

“Every now and then they would let the monkey loose – we’re not doing that,” said Ward.

The hotel operated for 50 years and closed in the1960s. It reopened as the parish courthouse annex in the 1980s and had a unique distinction.

“At one time, ‘Tugy’s’ was the only bar in a courthouse in the U.S.,” said Covington Mayor Mike Cooper.

The building was shuttered in 2003 when the new justice center was built. Now dozens of workers are putting the final touches on the 107-year-old hotel.

“In some ways, this will be Covington’s living room again. This will be a central spot to gather,” said Ward.

In just two weeks, the hotel will reopen, offering a 2,400-square-foot ballroom, 42 guestrooms, and an upscale restaurant called Ox Lot 9, named after the unique old ox and horse lots that dot old Covington.

The Southern Hotel has gone to great lengths to capture the charm, beauty and history of old Covington, especially in the Cypress bar where artist Grahame Menage is hard at work painting scenes reminiscent of Covington’s past.

“I’m trying to recreate a beautiful environment, which is what I do,” he said “Each mural is a story and a work of art.”

These days, visitors will come by car rather than steamboat.

“It’s a boutique hotel in a boutique town – and it’s great right here on Boston St,” said Thom DiCerbo with the Covington Business Association.

Covington officials like Mayor Cooper are eager for a big economic boost.

“This will be an opportunity for visitors to stay here downtown and visit our shops and restaurants.”

And when it’s finished, its owners believe the Southern Hotel will be a place where visitors can look to the future while reliving the past.

The hotel is set to reopen in June. Visitors can get a sneak peak at a preview gala May 31.

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