Kamille D. Whittaker
New Orleans' Nostalgic NOPSI
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
It’s perfectly fine to have great expectations of New Orleans.
Its various institutions are well-versed in the onus that is placed on the city to hold space for the past and present to co-exist simultaneously and the swirl of nostalgic emotions that consort it. What’s new, is only as good as the reverence it pays to historical relics and people. Especially, the latter.
Consider this: During the Jazz Age, the headquarters of the New Orleans Public Service – or NOPSI – was a centrifuge of the public trust; a space for community and commerce and the centerpiece for daily life in the Crescent City generally and the central business district precisely. NOPSI ran the city’s electric, gas and public transit systems from 1923-1980. It abutted the French Quarter and stood, grand, several blocks from Bourbon and Frenchman’s streets. Then, add in decades of lapsed memory and care, through 2005 when it was flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and revive it again with the resolve of the city’s resilience and you’ll have the NOPSI Hotel, New Orleans – the first luxury hotel to open in the city in a generation.
So, of course, it deservedly gets all the attention and nice things.
The 1920s-era building re-imagined as a 217-room hotel featuring 76 suites over nine stories preserving all of its historical bones and foundations – vintage, meshed with the contemporary. The vaulted ceiling with ‘20s era flourishes and the stone terrazzo floor you walk on in the lobby, for example, are the original ones from the early 20th century; just as the white subway tiles in the bathrooms cut the blue and beige scheme brilliantly.
Its signature eatery, Public Service, carries the gathering spot theme and the city on its back – hardwood flooring, exposed brick walls, a Jazz club feel, to be sure. Dining in front of the open kitchen may turn into a concert featuring first-rate chefs and servers alike who could very well moonlight at musical venues throughout the city after the last shift. In fact, everything in NOLA can approach that multi-functional designation that birthed a generation of blues men and women. Which is what makes the NOPSI Hotel, of Salamander pedigree, so New Orleans. nopsihotel.com -- Kamille D. Whittaker
Originally published in Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine June 2018 Issue