Department Store was opened by Daniel Henry Holmes in 1849. At
the time, Canal Street was primarily residential but Holmes
saw the wide thoroughfare and its central location between the
old and new sections of New Orleans as an attractive location
for his dry goods emporium.
Leading up to the Civil
War, commercial activity intensified on Canal Street and, in
the ensuing years, D.H. Holmes underwent numerous expansions.
In 1913, the original four-story Gothic building, designed by
Charles Pride, gave way to a new large neoclassic design. The
building and, in particular, its clock became local icons.
"Under the clock at D.H. Holmes" became a standard meeting
place, as immortalized in the opening scene of John Kennedy
O'Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces--recognized today by
the statue of Igantius J. Reilly.
The D.H. Holmes
Department Store continued operating through 1989. After it
closed, the building was donated to the City of New Orleans,
who along with Historic Restoration Inc. and Sonesta
International Hotels Corporation rescued the structure. In
April 1995, the 251-room luxury hotel, Chateau Sonesta opened.