Situated on the site of New Orleans founding father Jean Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville’s residence, The Pelham Hotel is named in homage to the building’s past and the creativity, character, charm the city is known for.
During the early 19th Century, Mr. James Caldwell built one of the greatest English theatres in America, called The St. Charles Theatre, on Camp Street in New Orleans. The theatre was extravagant, dripping in the most ornate English style architecture and attracted the best actors and actresses from all over the United States. One of the most talented and renowned actors, who regularly performed at the theatre, was Mr. Alan Pelham.
In honor of Mr. Pelham’s wondrous contributions to the theatre community, Caldwell named his elaborate home on Common Street, The Pelham Manor. Located just one and a half blocks from the front steps of the theatre, the house played host to the city’s most lavish parties and was the hub of almost any artistic social activity.
On March 13, 1842, a pottery warehouse behind The St. Charles Theatre caught fire and spread rapidly. In frenzy, Caldwell began moving the theatre’s luxurious furniture and decorations to his Common Street home. When the flames were extinguished, the theatre lay in ash and ruin.
Once the site was cleared, Caldwell’s rivals acquired the site and his dream died. For the remainder of his life, he rarely left his Pelham Manor, surrounded by the opulence and elegant objects that once adorned his flourishing theatre in New Orleans.
Today, the only two known remaining artifacts saved from The St. Charles Theatre remain on display in the hotel’s lobby. While The St. Charles Theatre and the Pelham Manor no longer exist, The Pelham Hotel still stands as a testament to Caldwell’s dream and the grandeur of a theatre once referred to as “The Temple of the Drama”.