The Bellemont, Part the Last
Abandoned New Orleans: General Laundry Cleaners and Dyers

The Bellemont, Part the Last (part two) (the actual last)

(For the first part of this post from my 2012 return to the Bellemont, click here. To see what it looked like in 2008, click here.)

 

BAR

The Bellemont's bar and lounge has gone by other names, most recently Brella's. In 1957 it was The Planters' Room.

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The black and white photos above and the other historic shots here are from Baton Rouge library archives, dug up by Becky. In the above case, an article/brochure effused praise of the rooms' Old World-meets-New World decor, murals, furnishings, the chandelier imported from Czechoslovakia, and yadda. I regret not looking behind the bar for the old mural, but didn't examine these photos til after I had visited.

 

 

POOL

There were two other pools in addition to the Pan American's private pool, which we'll look at next. Here's the one closest to the lobby, which had a glass-walled lounge, now demolished.


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 Description on this vintage postcard reads:

This large 75’ filtered pool is a vacation spot enjoyed by many travlers coming to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Flanked on each side by large coccus palms, the pool and its patio present a tropical atmosphere of unusual delight. Beverages and food are available from the famous Bellemont Restaurant. Pool is free to guests of the Bellemont Motor Hotel, Louisiana’s Largest and Finest. Ektachrome by Woody Ogden

There were other parts past and present including a barber and beauty shop, the Orleans Room (a polite man was having a rest in there), and the vault (demolished), but let's move on to the guest rooms, starting with the gem of the hotel.

 

PAN AMERICAN SUITE

On my first visit to the Bellemont in 2008, I wondered what was behind this dramatic entrance with the tattered awning that said Pan American.

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The Pan American was the Bellemont's famous honeymoon suite, with a South American theme and  a private pool.

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The pool area had a South American- inspired tile mosaic.

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It was almost entirely obscured by vegetation. 

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Imagine what it must have been like to stay in this suite--maybe the colors from the mosaic reflected from the pool into the living room. It seemed a terrible waste to let these Italian ceramic tiles end up in a Dumpster. I mentioned it to my artist aunt, who encouraged me to make some calls. I appealed to Abandoned Baton Rouge's Facebook fans , called two salvage organizations who were not phased, and emailed four people from Louisiana Museum of Art and Lousiana State Museum, yielding 0 response. However, Becky and her son took up the cause, spending hours clearing off the vines, and now it seems it could be saved.

Look, let's be honest. It isn't the most attractive mosaic, but it is an iconic feature of a once-beloved place and a relic of a lost time. I know of no guest accommodation this special in Baton Rouge today.

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The living room's Mayan-style fireplace, pictured above, is another lauded feature of the suite. Maybe this should be saved too. A rich giant should find a different unused building, open a bar/ Latin American restaurant, throw this fireplace inside (or out) and set up the mosaic wall in the back yard. Boom: call it The Pan American.



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Good-bye, Pan Am

 

GUEST ROOMS

 Here are some water-damaged photo prints of the rooms and suites that I found at the front desk, showing how they looked as of February 2000. If I had to sum up the vibe in two words I would say "snuff film."

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Top to bottom, we have a deluxe suite bedroom from a one-bedroom apartment, the living room of the deluxe suite, a junior suite bedroom and a deluxe suite bedroom. Oh and on the back of the prints, some black mold that I can huff if I ever miss the lung-blackening air of the Bellemont's end times (I shall not.) None of these rooms appear very deluxe to me, and so stand as another hint to the lost years of the Bellemont's decline. No Cher, no the Who. Just a hotel that, I'm guessing, if it was anything like when I visited the still-operational Kutcher's 1000+ miles to the northeast, already had some wings closed off that nobody used.

Considering the grim state of affairs depicted above, the guest rooms almost looked better when I got to them in 2012.

Well--not this one (reminiscent of the Saw films / The Filthiest Toilet in Scotland / bar restooms on the Lower East Side of NYC such as the now-closed dive Mars Bar).

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For my second shift exploring the Bellemont, demo crew leader Charlie showed me around, starting in the 600-700 block of rooms in the rear of the site.

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Some, but not many of these rooms have been torn down, he explained, due to the difficulty of tearing down the concrete.

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Sure hope he has the safety on

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Notice the rosary on the bedpost above.

 

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In the overgrown central courtyard is pool no. 3.

 

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CHAPEL


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Let's zoom in on the end of God's Plan for the Ages.

 

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The Bellemont pulpit sets

 

MAINTENANCE AND LAUNDRY FACILITIES


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OH GOD THE COURTYARD

A hidden courtyard became a jungle.

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CHECK-OUT TIME

The last section I looked at, to the right of the main entrance, the 200 block of rooms, appeared to date to the 70s.The central courtyard was so densely overgrown you couldn't see a foot deep into it.

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Some of the rooms were not too bad.

 

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However, I was intensely aware in that late afternoon hour that I was now exploring alone, so I was ready to wrap things up.

 

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The urban explorer's rule is "take only photos, leave only footprints," but in this case whatever is left is headed for the landfill, so I had a few souvenirs in my bag.

 

The Bellemont booty

I always like to get a little letterhead stationery and postcards if possible. That beautiful iron railing segment is now leaning against an even older iron railing in my fire escape garden. I found that artfully water damaged mini-photo album in the chapel, featuring snapshots from an older couple's wedding, and the Schlitz can speaks for itself.

It was the magic hour, when the sun is sinking and everything gets golden and dramatically lit and taking photos feels like cheating. But after this long day, it was check-out time.

 

The Bellemont goodbye gate

 

 

 

Thanks for visiting. If you have a great story or memories from the Bellemont, I'm working on a story about it, and I'd love to hear from you. (colleenrkane at gmail dot com)

 

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Comments

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RoPo

Another great post as usual, Colleen!! I had no idea there was a chapel there!

CS

I was in the Great Hall in 1999 for Baton Rouge High's Winter Formal dance. I was a freshman then. That's the closest I ever got to the hotel. Just wondering, can anyone get on the property to look around? I would love to see it firsthand. Your pictures are wonderful, though. Thank you for sharing!!

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Account Deleted

This place can be so great this time in the present. It will be modern but with vintage touch. Adding water filter system can avert any dangers from unfiltered water supply especially after that. My opinions are based on http://waterfilters.mercola.com/drinking-water-filter.aspx articles that I read.

Alice Fish

that's sad that it's being torn down. i wish they'd remake it. such a cool place.

paul b

The Belmont was an awesome place in it's time. I played in a band there as a teenager several times. My brother was married there in 1979 and at the time you couldn't find a nicer place in the south.
The Orleans and Pan American suites had their own swimming pools
and were as big as a house and everything was top notch nothing left undone at the Belmont. Anyone who ever saw it in it's prime will never find a place that would compare to it.

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La bonne chose au sujet de votre information est qu'il est assez explicite pour les étudiants à saisir. Je vous remercie pour vos efforts dans la diffusion des connaissances académiques.

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I totally agree with you, such a good though, i will tell my friends about this.

Veronica G. Hudgins

Thanks a lot for such a profound review.I really liked the article, especially the pics. They are really vivid.

Rachel

Oh, what an awesome place. I'm glad I found it while looking on the internet for cool, old abandoned places.
The old photos were so cool. Glad I found ur site. It's too bad the Bellemont was abandoned and fell into disrepair. It looks like it was a great place at one time.

Rachel

I just wanted to say, it's too bad those salvage organizations weren't interested in preserving those old mosaic tiles. Never ever will anyone be able to get those again. Only if someone finds them in a vintage place and decides to salvage them. It's a shame that many salvageable parts get sent to a landfill. And from such an iconic place. Too bad it had to be torn down.

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Jacqulyn

I am 17 years old and I absolutely adore looking through abandoned buildings in baton rouge and wherever else I can. I went to the great hall for my 16th birthday to see what was left behind and after that I was hooked I know you don't live in baton rouge anymore but I'd like to take some pictures for you. Kinda like helping where you left off. I'm a decent photographer and have been to quite a few abandoned buildings if you'd like me to help at all I'd be overjoyed too. My email is iluvyew66@hotmail.com . Also to everyone who enjoys history it's a great place to find pets. :)

Driveway Cleaners in Birmingham

Wow that is amazing to compare the two photos. It's amazing how quickly nature can take reclaim man made concrete jungles. Theres something beautiful about these abandoned buildings

Leslie

I stayed the night at the Bellemonte in 1998 after a Mardi Gras ball at the Great Hall. All I can say is I'm glad I was super drunk and didn't care how freakishly creepy it was there. It was going downhill then.

mobile notary

So sad! I miss the hotel.

Hank

Hard to believe that was the same place and now it's gone. I've been in Baton Rouge a long time. Seldom seen a fairly iconic place I know run down so far.

Tas Murah

I stayed the night at the Bellemonte in 1998 after a Mardi Gras ball at the Great Hall. All I can say is I'm glad I was super drunk and didn't care how freakishly cree

TP

My husband and I had our wedding reception in 1980 in the suite with the pool pictured here . We have a picture of our toast standing in front of the Mayan fire place.
Such an awesome memory.

Noah

Hey I have been exploring abandoned places recently and I came across this one and I would love to go check it out but there’s not address or what’s it’s around could you help me out @ noahthegangsta@gmail.com < I made the email years ago and still use it

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