The Lofts wasn’t always the modern hotel experience it is today. This building, located in the heart of New Orleans’ Warehouse District, has been around for more than 100 years. It has seen New Orleans evolve, and even played a role in the city’s growth.
As the Warehouse District transformed from industrial to commercial and residential, this building changed with it. After the World Fair in 1984, the Arts District was born, and the old businesses by the river became the modern attractions of today. Before there were the exposed brick walls and modern design elements, this building played a significant role in the Second Industrial Revolution.
In 1876, William Henderson established the Henderson Sugar Refinery, which would eventually become a major manufacturer of sugar for many decades. Originally located within the Pelican Warehouse at Girod and Commerce Streets, the Henderson Sugar Refinery moved to its current location at South Peters and Julia Streets in 1892. This building, which we now know as The Lofts, produced more than 800 barrels of sugar every day. Imagine tons upon tons of raw sugar, towering smokestacks and the roar of machinery.
The Henderson Sugar Refinery went on to produce millions of barrels of sugar throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, becoming a landmark of the city.
In 1966, Henderson Sugar purchased Godchaux Sugars, another large sugar producer in Reserve, La. The company became known as the Godchaux-Henderson Sugar Refinery. Almost a decade later in 1975, Godchaux-Henderson Sugars was sold to the Great Western Sugar Company for $8 million.
Throughout the years, this building has been through a series of extensive renovations and repairs, including an explosion at the refinery in 1948. However, certain design elements of the original structure remain, giving The Lofts a distinct sense of historical worth. Walking along the halls of The Lofts and through the attractions of the Arts & Warehouse District offers a glimpse into the truly unique aspects of this beautiful area.