The Legend of the St. James Hotel New Orleans
The historic and elegant Saint James hotel was originally built by a New Orleans architect, Charles Zimpel, for Thomas Banks. As built in 1833, the building was intended to be a meeting place for local merchants and tradesmen to conduct business and support the neighborhoods above Canal Street. The Magazine Street side of the structure was at one time occupied by stores and behind it a glass pedestrian arcade extended through the block. A restaurant was onsite at one time and a coffee room that boasted the ability to accommodate up to 500 people at one time.
In 1843 the Arcade was purchased by Joseph Danforth Weaver. The next resident of the Banks Arcade was J. Aron & Company, Inc. J. Aron and Company was a coffee import firm that provided hundreds of small coffee roasters around the country at a time when communication with coffee producing countries and customers was unreliable and slow. Today the hotel maintains the historical charm of a day gone by and pays homage to the romance, colors and legends of New Orleans.
In 1859, the Banks Arcade was renovated and the original St. James Hotel was built. It was a fine hotel but the grandeur was short-lived. From 1861 to 1865, during the Civil War, the hotel became a Union hospital.
Today the St. James Hotel is located only blocks from its original location - which is now the Board of Trade Plaza.