The Southern Hotel originally opened in 1907 and shut down in the 1960s. Together with the building's new owners, Woodward Design+Build and Trapolin-Peer Architects partnered on an ambitious restoration and renovation project to restore the building to its original use. The renovated hotel features 42 guest rooms, a 2,400-sq-ft special events ballroom, meeting rooms, a fitness center, courtyard pool, bar and fine dining restaurant.

The main challenge on a historic renovation such as this was the unforeseen conditions that pose obstacles to the planned design and construction.

As renovation work began, crews discovered a tremendous amount of underground water threatening the building's soil-supported foundation. When the hotel first opened in 1907, it advertised the latest in modern amenities, including running hot water. Vertical pipes that rose up from wells beneath the hotel had corroded over time, resulting in saturated soil more than 3 ft beneath the surface. To solve the problem, the team dug deeper and applied a bed of limestone over a greater area, thereby increasing the foundation's load-bearing capacity.

While exterior elements around the perimeter grade beams were holding steady, the interior columns were heavily subsiding from years of underground water erosion. The project team jacked the structure off the existing slab, shored it with scaffolding and then removed the interior columns and existing foundations. New foundations, columns and a structural-steel support system were added.

Historical photographs helped to create the exterior doors. The original ground-floor wood windows and doors were reconstructed to replace metal storefront openings added by the previous owner. Pairs of wood doors with glass transoms were restored at the main lobby and side entrances, with the hotel's logo etched into the upper door panels. The construction team used a few original glass transoms found in the building to help reproduce turn-of-the-century wood storefront openings.

Woodward's subcontractor, WoodWorkers Construction Inc., crafted modern millwork pieces throughout the interior. The interior door and window trim was carefully crafted to match the historic profile. Throughout the ground-floor public spaces, the team installed travertine floors with unique veining that were imported from Turkey. Special attention to quality materials and craftsmanship in restored and new elements helped to achieve a luxurious aesthetic for the hotel.

Key Players

General Contractor Woodward Design+Build, New Orleans

Owner Condrey Southern Hotel LLC, Covington, La.

Lead Design Trapolin-Peer Architects, New Orleans