Before Phoenix 2.0, before Haze on Texas or even Humfree’s and Shreve Square, New Year’s Eve downtown was celebrated at the Washington Youree Hotel.
The hotel took up most of the block where the current Louisiana Tower and its parking garage now sit, bounded by Market Street to the east, Travis to the north, Edwards to the west and Texas to the south. It was quite a place.
The remarkable grand stairwell into the lobby was indicative of the overall loveliness of the rest of the impressive property. On New Year’s Eve, there would have been multiple venues for your enjoyment, including the Zephyr Room, where you might join friends to listen to Johnny Singer play the harmonica. What a night THAT would have been. (Harmonicas on New Year’s Eve have always ended badly for us).
If the weather was warmer, you might have made a reservation at the lovely rooftop restaurant and after dinner moved to the Fountain Room for dessert and a beverage and spent the evening with Freddie Carlone and his Orchestra.
If you were really lucky, you would have been there for a set by singer Perry Como, who was so popular that his floorshow was held over.
If the Fountain Room was booked, you might have found yourself in the Crystal Ballroom.
Another option would have been the beautiful lobby itself, which could host hundreds at a sit-down dinner with enough room for a band, too!
A legion of cooks and doormen, maids and bellhops, receptionists and office workers kept the giant hotel running smoothly.
Many of the workers who kept the hotel going!
We love that the hotel had its own upholstery department!
After many decades of parties, entertainment and grandeur, sadly, by December 31, 1979, the Washington-Youree was no more. It was demoed on December 16th of the same year. We at least have the historical photographs and advertisements to remember her.
Many thanks, as always to Mike and Mark at Twin Blends – Northwest Louisiana History Hunters
, who do such a fine job of finding these photos among the thousands of negatives at the Northwest Louisiana Archives at LSUS
. (They also colorize some of the photos). The photos above are part of the Jack Barham collection at the Archives. Thomas ‘Jack’ Barham was a photographer for the Shreveport Journal for more than 40 years. According to the Shreveport Times, Barham’s photographs also were published in the World Book and by the Associated Press and National Geographic.