1940-1969: “Once a Home, Now a Hotel”
Alexander Wylie and Mary A McDougall
Today’s Maison de Ville began its modern-day history courtesy of Madeline Erlich, a Pennsylvania woman who visited New Orleans in 1944 (near the end of World War II). During her visit she made the acquaintance of Mrs. A. W. (Mary) McDougall, who operated a successful travel agency. While visiting in the McDougall home at 727 Toulouse St, Mrs. Erlich encountered a French Quarter patio for the first time, and its inviting charm brought about her disappointment that the French Quarter did not boast a hotel embodying the neighborhood’s captivating ambience.
Mrs. Erlich convinced her friends to help her remedy this lack, but in searching available properties she found nothing appropriate. Intrigued by the history of the house and the fascinating tale of Monsieur Peychaud’s Sazerac cocktail, and buffeted by enthusiasm, Mrs. Erlich managed to persuade the McDougalls to move to an equally charming, but slightly smaller house, allowing Toulouse Street house to be converted into the splendid little hotel they had envisioned. Mrs. Erlich, in her newfound position as manager of the upcoming hotel, set out to acquire the finest in furniture and decorations. One of her most notable acquisitions was a door from the old St. Louis Hotel, which had been almost completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1915. This very door, with its panel of etched glass between two sections of elaborately carved wood, still graces the main entrance of Hotel Maison de Ville.