At the turn of the 20th century, Covington was famous for its healthful, healing environment. Excursionists came by schooner and by rail to breathe the pine-scented air and drink the pure waters. To accommodate the many guests, Covington, like other towns on the north shore, offered a selection of hotels and home-like resorts. The Southern Hotel opened its doors on June 1, 1907. The hotel, designed in the shape of the letter "H," was constructed at a cost of $100,000. The chef and his assistants were formally in the employ of first class hotels and restaurants in New Orleans. There were 200 feet of galleries overlooking New Hampshire Street, a formal garden and a tennis court. Tame and exotic animals resided in cages in the central lobby surrounding an artesian fountain. The building houses government offices from the 1980's until a few years before its restoration began in 2012.