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In January 1926, the cornerstone of Louisiana Masonic Temple on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans was installed by a grand procession of more than 7,500 Masons. Inside the cornerstone, the Masons placed Confederate currency, gold coins from 1872, a copy of the city’s newspaper, the Bible and a stone from the site of King Solomon’s Temple of Jerusalem, among other items.
Today, this copper box full of treasures — as well as other historic items from the Masonic days — can be seen within the building that now houses Hilton New Orleans St. Charles Avenue Hotel. This AAA Four-Diamond modern gothic hotel, which is a member of Historic Hotels of America, recently finished an $8 million renovation, adding another historic hotel to the city’s portfolio.
The Hilton, located on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line and within walking distance of the French Quarter, offers 252 rooms and 24 suites, plus valet parking, a business center, an indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center and concierge services. On-site is Luke restaurant, helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef John Besh.
Still in the works is the Executive Club Lounge, set to open in June. It will include a dining area for upscale continental breakfast and evening beverages and hors d’oeuvres, a billiard room, a business center and a library for executive-level guests and Hilton HHonors members, according to Don Zimmer, director of sales and marketing for the hotel.
“It’s going to be quite a feature for the hotel,” Zimmer said.
The hotel also offers several meeting spaces, including the historic Grand Chapel, once used by the Masons. The elegant room features 21-foot-high ceilings, stained-glass windows, turn-of-the-century chandeliers and 10 wood-carved faces mounted on the walls, rumored to represent the likeness of Jacques de Molay, the 23rd and final Grand Master of the Knights Templar.
“The Chapel is great for food and beverage events because it’s such an unusual venue,” Zimmer said.
Groups may also participate in the Pick Your Perk program, where specials such as 5 percent off the master account, free Wi-Fi access and upgrades are offered to groups based on the number of people and room nights booked.