Thursday, July 18, 2013

From Bank to L'Banca Albergo

“For the first time in more than 50 years, the town finally has its own hotel.”

With that simply-stated sentence, Olivia Vidal spoke volumes about Lake Arthur’s (LA) past, present, and future (March 6, 2013 at

And our tour through L’Banca Albergo with co-owner Roberta Palmero brought parts of each of these volumes to life.
She spoke of her childhood in Lake Arthur and revealed her regard for the history of The Live Oak Hotel (built in 1885, demolished in 1934 after a fire). The last hotel in town.
So, what led to the decision to open a hotel in Lake Arthur after nearly 80 years?

Roberta and her husband Bobby saw that the Regatta restaurant on the lake (see our previous blog entry) had encouraged several other small businesses to open in town. The former Jeff Davis Bank was available, and after they purchased it at an estate sale, they started kicking around ideas for its use. A meeting with an architect out of Lake Charles followed...and “The Bank Hotel” was born.

Kate and I seek out restored hotels, movie theaters, and opera houses, but are equally eager to tour “repurposed” buildings, i.e., those buildings whose owners preserve as much of the original structure and its history in the course of incorporating new functions into the structure.

The Palermos have succeeded in preserving and recreating the bank’s structure as they built the work of a boutique hotel into this structure.

In the lobby, they left the vault, which became a wine vault for guests to purchase bottles of wine during their stay.
I believe it was another local craftsman Mark Hebert who had the inspiration to create the tellers’ windows as part of this wooden structure that is the focal point in the lobby.
In the "Bank" room, the Palermos left a vault door,
the old drive-through window and night deposit box (lower left corner), and
several teller's stamps.
Two bedrooms on the first floor, including a handicapped bedroom, and five bedrooms on the second floor have unique features. Some have examples of creative re-cycling, such as using an old door for the headboard of this bed.
The second floor has a New Orleans style balcony wrapped around it.
The second floor corridor included turns that revealed small alcoves and created a sense of separation from each of the other rooms on the floor.
A local artist Dane Landry painted the names on the walls outside of the rooms. The Sicilian room was named for Bobby's heritage.
The rooms featured browns and two tones of gray that created a very relaxing quality for the rooms.
Lake Arthur may be off the beaten path, but with new businesses, an excellent restaurant, and a marvelous hotel the road to Lake Arthur may soon become a well-worn path to a popular destination.

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