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June 02, 2008

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Sanrda Day O'Killer

I went with my best friend to his senior prom at the Bellemont. That was near the end of its finest hours when the neighborhood had already turned into a post-industrial wasteland. We decided that the hotel was like an Orwellien British colonialist who still hadn't heard about independence hanging on in a remote Indian outpost. Then at the afterparty, we had to kick out some freshmen who crashed and were attempting to snort crushed aspirin in the bathroom. I was, obviously, much nerdier than my sister who did mind-altering drugs there.

Professor Fury

This is my favorite thing on the internet right now.

Oleg aka Xtraboy

Good discovery! Sometimes i like to visit small places like this, but i love big places! ;)

Lamar

The Pan-American was a near-palatial suite at one time. The best rooms in the house as I recall.

Sue-Sue

Went to many a dance at the Bellemont !!

rabbit

Hello, all,
I am a new commenter and resident of Baton Rouge. Colleen, I love this site, and I think you had better be prepared for a lot of new fans after that article in The Advocate. I can't believe how many of my friends and family separately told me "You have got to see this blog!" I know you've been here a while now, but welcome to B.R.

Oh, and the big roaches are tree roaches and are solitary, so you never really have to worry about infestation with those guys. They like cool spaces in the summer.

ricky

towards the end of the 90's we used to go to raves and record shows there.

Leslie @ the oko box

These pics and descriptions are awesome, it reminds me of the Bearingstein Bears book "the spooky old tree", "Do they dare go inside the spooky old tree? Yes they dare!" The peep hole reminds me of when my BFF was sitting on the tiolet in the LSU library and looked over to see an eyeball staring through a hole at him. Peepholes are popular in repressed cultures where certain orientations are not accepted.
Loved seeing you in the advocate too :)

Larry Easley

Thanks for the tour. However, I prefer to remember the Bellemont as the best place to go on a Friday or Saturday night, with or without a date. I'm referring to the 1970's. They had a great lounge/dance area where a prominent local band would play most every weekend. I still have fond memories of going there with my buddies from school, yea, we were barely 18, that was legal back then. In fact, in 1974, I married a young lady that I met at The Bellemont Lounge.
I still recognize some of my memories in your photos. The marriage lasted 20 years. Oh well, nothing but the memories last forever, right!

gibby

I'm so glad I actually listened to wrkf this morning and found your blog. When I was 12 (13 years ago) I went to a huge party at the Bellemont with my dad for an LSU game.

I remember it being so nice and fun and just plain out awesome. It's amazing, and saddening, how quickly things change in Baton Rouge which is something you'll notice if you stay here long enough.

anonymouse

conifers?! how long have you been here?

Denise

those pictures were disgusting to see. it is amazing how wonderful things are in Baton Rouge, then the next, abandoned buildings. that whole entire complex could be used as a mini-mall, or like someone said earlier , a shelter for hurricane season when times get hard.somebody needs to fix that place up, and thats a shame how it is looking right now. I have been inside the Great Hall Ballroom, it is huge, and it looks great, compared so everything else.With all that space, there should be no homeless people on the street with no where to go.Baton Rouge needs to get it together because a lot of abandoned buildings in Baton Rouge makes our city looks bad, like we don't care.

Michael

Great job. As an amateur historian, I really enjoyed reading through this and looking at the pictures.

I appreciate the work you put into this.

It is a shame that such once majestic places like this and Belle Grove Plantation in White Castle were allowed to just simply fall and rot away.

I do wish someone could have refurbished that place but I am afraid that it is too far gone by now.

SVO

I remember the Bellmont too. Last time I can remember being there was for my 20 year high school reunion in 1987. It was pretty nice then as I remember, but I don't think for long after. It sure is sad. FYI - I grew up on the corner of Scenic Hwy and E. Mason St. in Monte Sano. It was a nice neighborhood in the 50's and up until the middle 60's. I worked summers in high school at Hernandez Ice House just north of the Scenic Hwy/Airline interchange. Attended Monte Sano Presbyterian Church all my life until around 1975 or so, and then it moved to the Central area and changed its name to Grace Presbyterian church. I don't care what you say, life was better in the 1950's and early 60's than today!

jonathan

did I see a lamp that is still on??? in the picture after the fountain

RoPo

Yes Jonathan, I noticed the same thing! WTF?!

Will

how sad to see the once magnificent Bellemont in such a horrific condition.

Jim B.

Bear in mind that Baton Rouge on the whole is nicer and trendier now than it ever was, just in different parts of town. We are officially the 4th best place for young professionals to find a job, one notch above NYC. The recession has been far less prminent here, thank God. For those of you no longer living here, you would be amazed at Downtown over the last two years. The movie industry has taken a huge liking to out area; so much so that we are referred to as "Hollywood South". The Universities are offering film-related technician classes to fill the many job openings and soundstage studios are popping up. Things are rather good here, but the sad part regarding the old places is a reality as well. .

Julien

Having grown up in B.R. and moved away, it is always sad to see what is going on in the city. There has been a clear and obvious effort to pour all of the development dollars into the southern end of the city/parish and ignore the northern end. All of the new stuff and the services are in the south. The north is ignored and the Bellemont is a clear victim of that deliberate neglect. Once you cross Florida Blvd., you might as well be in another city.

Tiffany

I saw the lamp too! Colleen, do you remember noticing the lamp being on when you were there? That's kinda' freaky!

bet

I recently learned that a father to one of my cousins was murdered here at the Bellemont just a few months after the post was made. I was informed that some church or ministry outreach was using some of the rooms to house and rehabilitation ex-cons.

Lynn

I loved this blog! My grandfather is 92 years young and had so many memories to share! He was glowing as he reminisced! You did a wonderful article. Personally I would have been afraid to walk through certain parts afraid of finding a dead body or something! Again thanks!

Carolyn

My best friend had her 50th (and last; she died of cancer less than 3 months later) birthday party in the Pan American suite in the summer of 1992.

It was a three bedroom suite, with its own private swimming pool. The master bedroom shower had three or four shower heads at different heights and room for several (:-X) to shower at once.

Velvet couches and chairs were scattered strategically around the massive living room. The fireplace alone made the room magnificent, even though it was dwarfed by the opulence around it.

It was palatial. I am honored to have had the chance to see it before its creeping shabbiness distracted from its original glory.

dany

I went to a gun show at the great hall in the mid 90's. It was a dump by then but i could tell by the archetecture that it was 1st class at one time. Sad to see that its been demolished.

Bob Morgan

Thanks for the memories. This series makes me regret not taking the time to explore the old Bellemont myself, as I can relate to almost every photo. At the height of its glory, it must have been one of the biggest and most popular places of its kind in the south, and certainly was the premier space for conventions and political meetings in Baton Rouge, and home to legislators during sessions.
A.C. Lewis was a visionary who, without doubt, owned more brick than anyone in Baton Rouge, with an apartment complex and a large group of office buildings near the Bellemont, in addition to other hotel properties and some first class apartment complexes on Foster Drive and elsewhere. His crown jewel was the mansion he built on Old Perkins Road south of Highland.
When the Bellemont was built, Airline Highway was the route for two major U.S. Highways, U.S. 61 N-S and 190 E-W. The completion of I-10 and -12 took with it most of the Houston to Florida traffic, and I-110 absorbed much of that between New Orleans and Natchez to the North. The demise of the venerable motor hotel was inevitable but deliberate, as other large venues gradually established themselves along the newer thoroughfares.

Mary Maloney

Really enjoyed the tour even though it is so sad. During my single days in the early 1960s the Plantation Room was a great place, live music, large dance floor and if you were lucky you might get to see a big name movie star from that era. What a loss, just like the tear down of the Paramount Theater downtown to make way for an outdoor parking lot and
there was nothing wrong with the building. During its last days I went to a live concert there and what great acoustics it had.

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