• This Old Historic House

    Site 61 Hostel is located in a renovated, 100-year-old rooming house. Originally the extended family lived downstairs and rented nine room and one bath upstairs. The building was designated an Historic Structure by the U.S. National Park Service in 2013.

    The current owner bought the building in 2013 in severly blighted condition and renovated it to modern standards, carefully preserving as many of the historic features as possible. Here are some of the details you may have noticed:

    Each of the upstairs rooms has a screen door, as well as a solid wood door. Before mechanical air conditioning, ventilation came from the strong, dependable south breeze that blew from the front balcony out to a large window at the other end of the hall.

    Rooms were also cooled with the help of a tall, double hung wood window in each room, In the two (VIP?) rooms opening onto the front balcony, extra-large french windows, or guillotine windows, reached from the floor almost to the ceiling. A wood screen pulled down over the lower part of the window.

    Over each door is a transom window, designed to tilt out and allow air to flow, when the solid wood door is closed.

    The original hardware includes porcelain door knobs, original door sets, and parts of the original transom hardware. The unique and rare screen door closers operate by twisting and putting tension on straight metal rods.

    The ceilings were built to 11 ½ feet, to allow hot air to rise. Some of the ceilings are currently lowered, to allow for mechanical installations. The old plaster walls were too fragile to hold heavy items, so wood picture molding about a foot from the ceiling served to hang heavy things like mirrors and heavy framed pictures.

    Gas lighting was the original light source, then minimal electricity was provided. The pipe “knobs” sticking out of the walls about 60” high are what remains of the gas light fixtures. You can see these knobs in the downstairs hall near the stairs, and in Rooms 17 and 13__.

    The one bathroom upstairs had a 12” x 18” mirror over the sink and one hanging light bulb. Gas pipes ran helter-skelter through the bathroom, for gas heaters.

    Chimneys throughout the house–in the kitchen, Room 42, Room 14, Room 01—were shallow, so probably designed to burn coal rather than wood. Later, the vents indicate they were used to vent gas heaters.

    With only one bathroom for nine rooms, chamber pots were conveniently tucked under each bed. A purely decorative chamber pot is now on display in the west corner bathroom. (No, it’s not a wastebasket!)

    Stained glass windows in the west corner bathroom and in the ensuite bathroom, Room 42, were designed to tilt out, rather than to be raised. At one time, there was probably a tripodal screen that could enclose the window in an open, tilted position. These windows are currently sealed shut.

    Old clear glass was imperfect, with bubbles and squiggly lines melted in. See the difference in the window panes next to the large kitchen sink. One of the panes is original; one pane is new glass.

    The wood floors have been in service for at least 100 years. In the lobby the dark spots on the floors are where the square, iron nails have oxidized.

    In the early part of the 20th century, it was customary to lay linoleum in the center of the room and paint around the edges, between the linoleum and the wall. In Room 14, you can still see the painted edges.

    The original front balcony came crashing down shortly after renovation began in 2014. In rebuilding the columns and the balcony, the carpenter copied the entasis of the original columns; that is, each column was slightly more narrow at the top than at the bottom.

    The back porch, with its low sloping ceiling, is original. It was retained for its old-fashioned ambiance, even though having a porch roof and also a balcony floor above, is functionally redundant.

    The beaded board walls in the dining room were probably not original, and by 2014, they had been partly painted and had been cut out here and there. But they were unique, individual solid wood boards. So the carpenters took them down, flipped them over, cleaned and finished the back sides and reinstalled them. They then added bead- board chases near the ceiling in the kitchen and dining room to hide the water pipes for the sprinkler system.

    The water line from hurricane Katrina was left—just barely visible—on the door between the lobby and the locker/game room.

    I hope you enjoy this old historic house!


  • About our sci-fi decor…

    About our sci-fi decor…

    At Site 61 you might see aliens,

    or time machines.

    And you will see us flying the flag of the Browncoats

    If you recognize the sci-fi references, you will appreciate the details of the hostel’s decor.  If not, they will just seen a little quirky and unusual, but not overbearing.  Our intention is to give sci-fi buffs a little extra entertainment without turning off folks who don’t know anything about sci-fi and–possibly– couldn’t care less!

    Each dorm room has a sci-fi theme that is brought out in the paint colors, curtains, the finishes on the custom beds, the decorations on the walls, and the colors of the sheets .By giving each room a theme, we are assured of having decorating fun for many years, as we continue to enhance each room’s decor.  Sorry, we can’t mention many themes, because we don’t want to step on copyrighted toes.

    However, we can share a little info about the “451 Lounge.”  This room is influenced by the novel Fahrenheit 451.  Ray Bradbury posited a future in which the government decides that people will be happier without books.  So books are condemned to be burned.  Fortunately, some of the folks rebel by hiding books in their AC vents and even one of the firemen whose job was to confiscate and burn the books, starts reading and protecting them.–A more or less positive ending to a dismal, over-protective, domineering, closed-minded government bureaucracy.  Obviously, the decor in this Lounge includes “fire” and” books.”  the hostel library is in this lounge, along with a collage of “burning books” in front of the the fireplace, and part of our actual sprinkler system displayed as artwork.

    Then there is the Steampunk-influenced lobby, the industrial downstairs bathroom, where the AC vents were left exposed.  We’re just getting started with the sci-fi decor and we welcome guest’s decorating suggestions!

  • Why name the hostel “Site 61”?

    Why name the hostel “Site 61”?

    The name is both a play on “Area 51,” in acknowledgement of the sci-fi themed decor, and also of its location on historic Highway 61.

    Before the Interstate was completed in the 70’s, the only highway into New Orleans from the west was Highway 61,  It stretches about 1400 miles from Wyoming, Minnesota and ends at South Broad Street, just a few blocks past Site 61 Hostel.

    Where Highway 61 runs through Mississippi, it is called the “blues highway.”  Robert Johnson allegedly met the devil at the crossroads along this highway.  Bob Dylan, James “Son:” Thomas and others sang the blues over this stretch of highway.

    Small motels lined Highway 61, as it entered New Orleans,  But when Interstate 10 diverted traffic from the businesses along Highway 61, they fell into neglect and disrepair.  They became havens for the usual suspects who frequent those newly-sleazy motels.

    However, for the past few decades, there has been renewed interest in historic highways, like Route 66 and more recently, Highway 61.  Once-derelict motels are being refurbished. And Site 61 Hostel is located in a restored, 100-year-old rooming house.  Also, the residential area adjacent to old Highway 61, or Tulane Avenue, is newly populated with young people who came to help with the clean-up after Hurricane Katrina, and they liked it here!  Enough to come back and settle in, as terrific neighbors and business owners near Site 61 Hostel!

  • Wednesday Night Potluck

    Wednesday Night Potluck

    Wednesday night Potluck

  • What in the world is a hostel?

    What in the world is a hostel?

    Musings from the owner

    “Hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available.” -From Wikipedia

    The best way I can describe what it is like to stay in a hostel is that it’s like going to another city to have a big bunking party with your extended family. My family tries to get together at least once a year. We arrange for several condos or rooms in a convenient city–or at my sister’s house. Late planners may have to double up or crash on the sofa. It’s always a lively affair. We get to catch up with some familiar people and meet the new ones-new nieces, nephews, cousins, spouses. It’s fun to share living spaces. We talk and play long into the night, then stumble up to have coffee together in the morning. We trust our family to accept us and genuinely wish us well in our life’s adventures.

    In a hostel, we are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews-people traveling through life together, getting to know each other and ourselves better. We exchange stories about our recent activities and congenial observations as we plan new adventures.

    Hostel travelers are adventure travelers rather than leisure travelers. They/we don’t mind sharing living space, as it brings us into closer contact with other adventurous people. We meet like-minded, curious, enterprising people-some who can become lasting friends, as well as immediate buddies. Conversations easily begin with: Where are you from? Where have you been? What do you want to see and do while you are here? That’s great! Let’s go together!

    One of the misconceptions about hostel travelers is that hostelers are poor, under-privileged people who just want to live cheap. In fact, I think hostel travelers are largely part of the hard-working middle class. Hostelers are budget-minded, because they have saved for the trip and want to stretch their money as far as possible. And you have to remember that they may already have paid for airline tickets from their home country, taken time off from their jobs, and want to travel “close to the people.” They don’t want to be separated from the country and the people they have come to see by being secured away in a lonely hotel room.

    Though hostel travelers are usually younger, partly because backpacking is physically demanding, many hostels are open to travelers of all ages. One just has to be somewhat physically sturdy, young at heart and genuinely enjoy meeting people. Staying in a hostel with other people who are part of our international family makes the world seem very small, indeed.