COVINGTON, La. -- For the first time in more than 50 years, the Southern Hotel is back.
The doors opened to hundreds Friday. In the crowd was JoAnn Strain-Hall, who had her wedding there in 1953.
"My husband's been deceased 25 years, but I can still picture the wedding and the reception,” she said. “It was just wonderful."
The 107-year-old building's restoration on Boston Street in downtown Covington took two years to complete and boasts 40 rooms, a large courtyard, a bar and multiple event rooms.
While its changes are modern, the art work and subtle details tell the story of its history. That's how the new owners wanted it.
Lisa Condrey Ward, developer and owner, said, "For a long time, no one ever saw the lights on at night. To be able to bring this back as a gathering place and a place to be proud of, I've just been blessed to be the one lucky enough to do it."
The community sees the project as a boost for business.
"The most important thing is that it's going to bring people to stay. Not just a day trip from New Orleans, or Baton Rouge, but now come and stay, stay a few days," said past president of the Covington Business Association Clifford Bergeron.
The developers say this project wasn't just about bringing something new to downtown Covington, it was bringing history back to life.
Ward said, “I think that we have to save our old buildings, it’s the only thing that connects us to our past and every study shows that its actually economic smart thing to do, not only for the investors but for the community."
And as long as the community's support continues, many believe the historic Southern Hotel will take Covington well into the future.
Hotel reservations are being taken now for June 15 and beyond. The bar opens Monday and the restaurant, Ox Lot 9, is set to open in July.