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Hotel Peter & Paul: A Former New Orleans Catholic School, Wholly Transformed

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Hotel Peter & Paul: A Former New Orleans Catholic School, Wholly Transformed

December 3, 2018

Amongst New Orleans’ many design destinations with storied histories (a restaurant in a 186-year-old Creole cottage, a hotel in the former headquarters of a Scandinavian furniture importer), one distinctive newcomer may have the most interesting former lifeHotel Peter & Paul, on an unassuming residential block in the Marigny neighborhood, is housed in four late 19th-century buildings that were once Saints Peter and Paul Catholic church and school. The school closed down in 1992, the church in 2001, and the property sat abandoned and deteriorating. Enter Nathalie Jordi, Marigny resident and local developer, who teamed up with NYC-based design and development firm, ASH, to bring the neighborhood landmark back to life.

After four years of a complex research, design, and construction—a collaboration between the developers, local architecture firm Studio WTA, historic preservation consultants, an acoustical consultant, ASH’s interior design team, and numerous other contributors—much of the buildings’ original features have been preserved and thoughtfully incorporated into its new design. Each building has its own inspiration and narrative; no two guest rooms are exactly alike.

The result, according to the architects, is “a one-of-a-kind hotel in a one-of-a-kind neighborhood that celebrates the existing building fabric and evokes the rich cultural texture of New Orleans.” I was fortunate to get a in-person tour from Nathalie herself earlier this fall. Let’s take a look.

‘After’ photography courtesy of Hotel Peter & Paul and Christian Harder; ‘before’ photography courtesy of Richard Sexton.

After

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Above: The dramatic entrance to the schoolhouse. The cypress-wood stairs and moulding and plaster walls are original to the 1890s building and have been carefully restored. The wall sconces throughout the schoolhouse hallways were designed by ASH, based on an original lamp found in the rectory, and custom-built by Preciosa-Lustry.

ASH’s overall design concept incorporates aesthetic influences from Europe, the Middle East, and Scandanavia. The hotel’s reception desk—located under the stairs in a niche tented with gauzy linens—is inspired by the old palaces of Morocco, India, and Venice. Each floor of the schoolhouse has its own palette, inspired by iconic religious paintings from the 14th to 18th centuries: golden yellow on the ground floor, emerald green on the second, sapphire blue on the third, and ruby red on the fourth.

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Above: On the ground floor, guest rooms have exposed ceilings and custom wooden windows and doors.

The furnishings are a mix of custom pieces by regional artisans and antiquities collected from Europe and from several of New Orleans’ finest estates. Along my tour, Nathalie mentioned a week-long buying trip to France, from which she and the ASH team brought back a shipping container full of antiques. The custom gingham fabrics—notice the varying sized checks—were created by the 100-year-old Swiss textile manufacturer Filtex.

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Above: The bathrooms are decorated with an assortment of antique and bespoke furniture and lighting; some feature vintage claw-foot bathtubs. The new fixtures are from Waterworks. Custom Italian linens and toiletries were made exclusively for the hotel.
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Above: Hand-painted striped tiles line the showers.  
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Above: The guest rooms on the second floor were formerly classrooms, and have oversized sash windows and wood wainscoting. The trompe l’oeil wardrobes were built locally and hand-painted by New Orleans-based decorative finisher, Ann Marie Auricchio, who also painted a large mural near the school’s former stage.
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Above: The wrought iron beds were custom made by the local husband and wife team behind E. Kraemer Fine Metal & Woodwork.
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Above: The antique paintings throughout the hotel, collected from New Orleans estates, mix with a collection of Greek and Russian religious icons sourced from Madrid. Room and hallway walls were painted with Pure & Original Classico chalk paint, which gives them a soft, matte finish.
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Above: The third floor formerly served as the school’s auditorium and gymnasium. Thanks to the tall ceilings, guest rooms include sleeping lofts accessed via spiral stairs. The stage proscenium is now an open lounge area.
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Above: The high gable of the building’s attic allowed plenty of space for the top-floor rooms. Some rooms have lofted sleeping areas, and all have a skylight. The custom rugs were designed by ASH and handmade in India.

In an adjacent building, the Rectory—an 1861 brick building where the clergy used to reside—guests can find lounge areas, The Elysian Bar, and five luxury suites.

hotel peter paul rectory lounge 2 francois halard
Above: A lounge area in the Rectory picks up the saffron palette.
hotel peter paul rectory corridor francois halard
Above: A view into the juice bar, with more trompe l’oeil features. The common area walls are painted with lime paint.
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Above: The brunch space, filled with greenery. The team sourced concrete tiles from Rustico Tile.
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Above: The bar opens to a courtyard between the schoolhouse and the rectory.
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Above: The interior of the church, after renovations. The team liked the patina and decided to leave it largely as they found it, with minimal cleaning and restoration. The space will be used for community meetings, events, and weekly yoga classes.
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Above: A detail of the church’s apse, which has been gently restored.

Before

the exterior of the church, before. 24
Above: The exterior of the church, before.
the dramatic sanctuary, before restorations. 25
Above: The dramatic sanctuary, before restorations.
the entrance to the schoolhouse. 26
Above: The entrance to the schoolhouse.
the original brick walls and marble fireplace. 27
Above: The original brick walls and marble fireplace.

Check out another ASH NYC-designed hotel we recently featured: The Siren Hotel: A Detroit Landmark with a Musical Soul, Saved from Abandonment.

Planning a trip to New Orleans? See our NoLA Travel Guide, plus:

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