December 5, 2022


World Travel Service

A secret tunnel utilized by Huey Lengthy as soon as related two resorts. Now you may roam it. | Leisure/Life

The hall was referred to as Peacock Alley in its heyday, named for the peacock blue and green-colored tiles that lined its flooring.

The tiles are gone, however the hall continues to be there, as are the tales of its storied previous. The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle merely referred to as it The Tunnel when asserting its plan to reopen the passageway in October 2019.

Lengthy earlier than the Hilton purchased and restored the constructing, a tarnished brass plaque on the Hilton’s exterior as soon as commemorated the tunnel’s historical past. The constructing was referred to as the Capitol Home Lodge earlier than it closed its doorways in 1985, and it, together with the previous King Lodge (now Lodge Indigo) stood empty in what was then an deserted downtown Baton Rouge.

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Although they are not unique to the lodge, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle has displayed Nineteen Thirties period artifacts within the tunnel connecting it with the Lodge Indigo to commemorate Huey Lengthy’s use of the underground hall.

Initially, proprietor and operator Roy Heidelberg opened what’s now the Hilton because the Heidelberg in 1927, providing 250 air-conditioned rooms to accommodate some 900 friends. It was the poshest place on the town, and although Huey P. Lengthy campaigned as a person of the folks, he’d turn into accustomed to the finer issues by the point he was inaugurated as Louisiana’s governor in 1928.

Lengthy took tunnel to legend standing

Lengthy, Louisiana’s highly effective, flamboyant governor-turned-U.S. senator, is claimed to have typically used Peacock Alley to maneuver between the resorts, and it is his connection that elevates the tunnel, and the Hilton’s new occasions house, The Tunnel, to legend standing.

To no shock, again within the day, Lengthy maintained a set of rooms on the southwest nook of the fourth flooring of the Heidelberg, the place, it is stated, he may keep watch over the capital metropolis’s prepare and river visitors, in addition to the foot visitors going out and in of what’s now Louisiana’s Previous State Capitol.

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The Tunnel is accessible by each stairs and elevator on the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle. The lodge has been internet hosting occasions within the house since April and has begun staging dwell music within the house on Thursdays.  

The King Lodge, throughout the road, was owned by Heidelberg and used Heidelberg’s boiler system to run gentle, energy, warmth and cold and warm water. The King additionally shared the Heidelberg’s laundry, room and valet companies.

“This was made potential by constructing a tunnel to attach the 2 constructions and allowed The King Lodge to supply virtually the identical ranges of service because the Heidelberg,” states a brief historical past posted by the Hilton on the tunnel’s entrance. “The one factor The King couldn’t present was air-con.”

Lengthy served as governor till 1932, when he was elected U.S. senator, a time period that ended together with his 1935 assassination in Louisiana’s State Capitol.

The brand new capitol did not open till 1932, so the previous capitol was nonetheless the middle of state authorities. The King Lodge additionally opened in 1932.

Half of what it was once 

As of late, what’s left of the tunnel that stretched beneath Lafayette Avenue, theoretically connecting it to the Lodge Indigo, is half of what it was once. The Lodge Indigo’s aspect was sealed years in the past, almost definitely for security causes. Nonetheless, it is enjoyable to take a position: Was the tunnel sealed to maintain Huey from roaming?

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The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle has opened its aspect of the tunnel that crosses beneath Lafayette Avenue to what as soon as was The King Lodge, now the Lodge Indigo. The Lodge Indigo’s aspect has been sealed. The tunnel opens up into the Hilton’s basement, which has been changed into an occasions middle referred to as The Tunnel. 

Director of Advertising Leslie Thompson took into consideration the storied previous of the tunnel when creating an area for occasions within the Hilton’s basement. The decor harks again to the deco opulence of 1927, when the lodge opened because the Heidelberg.

Then there’s its speak-easy vibe emanating a savory sense of scandal.

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The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle has turned its basement space into an occasions house referred to as The Tunnel, named for the tunnel beneath Lafayette Avenue that when related the Hilton to what’s now the Lodge Indigo. The Tunnel has a speakeasy ambiance, and the lodge has begun internet hosting dwell music with a bar within the house on Thursdays.  

Lastly, the room offers method to the tunnel as soon as referred to as Peacock Alley lit with flickering orange lights, ending at a set of sealed, picket doorways.

When occasions are staged in The Tunnel, Thompson pays tribute to Lengthy by breaking out the lodge’s “HPL” monogrammed china. Framed portraits of Lengthy are at both aspect of the room’s lengthy eating desk as a continuing reminder of why this house is rightly a part of Louisiana’s lore and legends.

Opening the tunnel as occasion house

The plaque mentioning the historic tunnel was eliminated both earlier than or after the Hilton’s opening in 2007, however that did not imply folks forgot concerning the tunnel.

Although the Hilton knew there was an appreciation for the house, COVID-19 pushed The Tunnel’s opening date to final April. Even then, there have been no grand opening ceremonies.

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The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle has been internet hosting occasions in The Tunnel occasions house since April. 

Thompson merely started reserving events, receptions and different gatherings within the house.

Thompson is scheduling a Louisiana-themed homicide thriller dinner with a full solid of actors for early 2023. Within the meantime, she’s reserving dwell music from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursdays with a full-service employees and bartenders serving up a drink menu of premium and ultra-premium liquor, premium wines by the bottle, complimentary absinthe and lightweight bites.

However in the case of every day eating, the house cannot be put to make use of. At the very least, not but.

“Our restaurant does not serve dinner,” Thompson stated. “However we’re a full-service lodge, and our restaurant has a catering menu, so we do present all the meals and drinks for occasions.”

Nonetheless, with no entry to operating water, The Tunnel’s drink selections are restricted, however no worries. The Kingfish Grill’s lounge upstairs is normally open, and friends should purchase quite a lot of drinks there to convey downstairs.

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Company are served on china monogrammed with Huey P. Lengthy’s initials at occasions in The Tunnel, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle’s occasion house named for the tunnel typically utilized by the governor-turned-U.S. senator. 

Stairs and a service elevator can be found for touring between the 2 flooring.

“We even have restrooms downstairs,” Thompson stated. “They’re employees restrooms, however they’re very good, they usually’re accessible to friends.”

Then there’s the primary attraction: The tunnel, itself. Peacock Alley is a vacationer attraction whereas being a part of the occasions space.

The ghost of Huey P?

In response to the lodge’s historical past, Lengthy was rumored to make use of the passageway for quite a lot of functions, together with to “evade the media and go to his mistress throughout the road.”

Thompson stated the lodge’s historical past is predicated on documentation from the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations on which each the Heidelberg and The King resorts had been positioned in 1982.

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The tunnel, for which the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle’s The Tunnel occasions house is called, was referred to as Peacock Alley due to the peacock-colored tiles that lined its flooring. The tiles are gone, however the Hilton’s half of the tunnel that related it beneath Lafayette Avenue to the Lodge Indigo continues to be there.   

Each resorts had been shuttered by 1985 and remained so for the subsequent 20 years. But it surely’s stated that Lengthy’s presence nonetheless lingered within the Heidelberg’s hallways.

In 1992, The Advocate revealed a narrative about employees for Pentagon Petroleum, which owned the 2 lodge buildings, recognizing the ghost of Huey Lengthy wandering a hallway throughout a routine constructing test.

Lengthy’s ghost finally disappeared whereas strolling away, leaving the aroma of cigar smoke in its wake. Lengthy had a love for cigars.

The Ballroom on the top floor of the Heidelberg Hotel... 09/12/99

The Ballroom on the highest flooring of the Heidelberg Lodge featured the piano the place musician Castro Carazo is reported to have performed Huey Lengthy’s marketing campaign track, “Each Man A King.”

He additionally had a love for LSU, a lot that he hand-picked jazz orchestra chief Castro Carazo as director of The Golden Band From Tigerland. He then collaborated with Carazo in writing the varsity’s battle songs on the piano within the Heidelberg’s top-floor ballroom. The employees, in that very same 1992 story, additionally stated they generally heard piano music coming from the ballroom.

Thompson hasn’t seen any signal of Lengthy, however she has skilled her personal set of chills whereas making ready The Tunnel’s occasion house for a celebration.

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Take a stroll into the tunnel beneath Lafayette Avenue that when related the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Middle to the Lodge Indigo, and you will find a skeleton in its closet. 

Within the meantime, guests are welcome to enterprise downstairs to go to the tunnel. Chances are high they will not see Huey, but when they open one of many hall’s doorways alongside the best way, they will uncover a skeleton within the closet carrying a Huey Lengthy-style fedora.

They’re going to additionally see some artifacts from the Twenties and ’30s, although none are unique to the lodge. Nonetheless, these items have a approach of setting the temper for a visit again in time when lodge employees and friends, alike, walked Peacock Alley.