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The following appeared in the Times-Picayune, Sunday, October 7, 1917:

The new building of the Cumberland Telephone Company on Poydras Street near Carondelet has been completed by the contractors. Costing $500,000, the structure is one of the most attractive in the city. It is of reinforced concrete with brick facing, and stone and terra cotta trimming. The interior finish is of high-grade materials. All doors are of bronze and all sills of marble. The offices already have been installed in the new structure. When the new switchboard is completed, about eight months hence the building and contents will represent an investment of $1,000,000. A space of about 50 feet intervenes between the old and new buildings and this will be converted into a recreation place for the telephone girls. It will be made into a grass plot, with flowers and shrubs, benches and plenty of shade.”

The Drury Inn & Suites-New Orleans is housed within the historic Cumberland Phone Building, located at Poydras & Carondelet. The building was reported to be a Central Business District landmark when it was completed in 1917, at the height of the developmental period for telephones in New Orleans.

The building was originally designed for the Cumberland Telephone Company and included an employment office and a staff of telephone operators. It was closed in 1983 and was left vacant. In 1996, BellSouth planned to demolish the eight story building to make room for a building that would provide elevated housing for emergency generators and to add maneuvering space for trucks to pull up to a high-rise telephone building next door.

The building was saved from demolition due to the combined efforts of members of the Preservation Resource Center, Lafayette Square Association and Louisiana Landmarks Society. Preservationists defended the building as one of the few surviving relics of the district’s early commercial life with an architectural style that is becoming rare in New Orleans. The elaborate terra-cotta detailing is distinctive of the earlier architectural period.

Drury Inns, Inc. acquired the building in December, 1997, after BellSouth officially retired the building. Drury implemented a design that includes a restored facade, preserving many of the terra-cotta highlights from the original Cumberland Phone Building. Through careful renovation, the lobby and front desk areas of imported marble and granite utilize many features of the original building to reflect period architecture, including the high ceilings, large windows and ornamental staircase. Waterford crystal is used throughout the building, for chandeliers and light fixtures. Historic elegance is built into every feature of the Drury Inn & Suites-New Orleans, blending the memories of the past with the present.

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