The ornate Virginia Hotel is a hidden treasure in downtown Monroe; disguised under layers of ceiling tiles and plaster. It is a true diamond in the rough.
Michael Echols, a Director of Business Development, for Vantage Health Plan says the hotel was built in the 1920's and was once an opulent grand hotel but now sits as a shell of its former self.
"We found beautiful plaster work and ornate molding behind this ceiling", Echols said.
Milk glass skylights that provided natural lighting were found and beautiful barreled plaster work was hidden in the lobby.
Echols said the hotel was at its peak in the 1920's and 1930's. He told us that as new hotels like the Penn and Francis moved downtown they became Virginia’s competition.
Sissie Jones, Project Coordinator, met with KEDM listeners and members of the community on Thursday. She gave an update on the restoration.
Jones said, “The hardest part of the restoration is finding plaster workers who can recreate what the hotel looked like in 1925”.
In the 60's the state of Louisiana bought the property and made the hotel into an office building. Large spaces like the hotel lobby were broken into smaller rooms. Walls were added and spaces housing the State Tax office and voter office hid the glamorous hotel lobby.
After completion, the first floor will house the grand lobby, and Conference rooms, offices, and cubicles round out most of the hotel. Vantage hopes to attract a grocery store and a restaurant to the 1st floor. The large 2nd floor ballroom will soon be a health club. Employees will be moving into modern offices. The 6th floor will host a grand ballroom that will hold 400 people. There will be rooms for bridal parties and outdoor patio and catering facilities.
The beauty of the roaring 20’s is all around.
The 20 million dollar renovation should be complete in late September.