The Legend of The Pelham Hotel
In the 1820’s, Mr. James Caldwell built one of the greatest English theatres in America, called The St. Charles Theatre, on Camp Street. The $350,000 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, located 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 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, Caldwell’s hard work lay in ash and ruin. On display in the lobby are the only two remaining artifacts known. Today they graciously welcome guest from all over the world.
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 of England that once adorned his flourishing theatre in New Orleans.
Today, The Pelham Hotel remains at the hub of activity, located in the midst of the Central Business District and steps away from the famed French Quarter. 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 English grandeur of a theatre once referred to as “The Temple of the Drama”.