Declared a national literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association in 1999, Hotel Monteleone opened in 1886 when a Sicilian-born cobbler named Antonio Monteleone purchased the Commercial Hotel, a 64-room hotel located on the corner of Royal and Iberville streets. In the late nineteenth century, Royal Street was the commercial and banking center of New Orleans, and the newly renamed Hotel Monteleone was an instant success with visitors to the city.
The hotel grew so quickly that in 1908 Monteleone had to rebuild and expand the hotel, for a cost of $260,000. Since its opening, the Monteleone has expanded five times, including the 1954 expansions to its lounges and the opening of the legendary Carousel Bar.
Through the years, the Carousel Bar has attracted visitors and locals alike, including many noted writers. In fact, Hotel Monteleone serves as the backdrop in over 173 stories and novels. Famous writers who stayed at the Monteleone include William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Sherwood Anderson, Lyle Saxon, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Eudora Welty, and Anne Rice. Capote often boasted that he was born in the Monteleone. The truth is that his parents were guests when his mother went into labor. They made it to Touro Hospital in time.
However, Hotel Monteleone was not always a site of happy times in the literary world. In 1942, New Orleans born author and Federal Writers’ Project employee Innis Patterson Truman jumped to her death from the hotel’s twelfth floor. Lyle Saxon described her death in a letter.
Just a few famous examples of works that include the hotel or Carousel Bar as a background include Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo and Orpheus Descending, Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere, Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers, Richard Ford’s A Piece of My Heart, Eudora Welty’s A Curtain of Green, Gerald Clarke’s Capote: A Biography; Erle Stanley Gardner’s Owls Don’t Blink (written under the pen name A.A. Fair), Ernest Hemingway’s “Night Before Battle” and Harry Stephen Keeler’s The Voice of the Seven Sparrows. Guests can lodge in suites named after famous authors such as Capote, Hemingway, and Williams.