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Mysterious jail cell in Roosevelt hotel may be famous 'deduct box'

Mysterious Jail Cell in Hotel May Be Legendary 'Deduct Box'

Proudly adorned with the classic elegant decor of the 1920s and 30s, The Roosevelt New Orleans hotel stands tall rich in history and beauty ... and a famous jail cell. Fit for a king, which is why the "Kingfish" himself Huey P. Long stayed there so much when he was Governor, which might also explains some of the hotel's hidden mysteries.

"The story goes that if you were a state employee that you had to pay money into the 'deduct box' in order to be a state employee, well, the 'deduct box' from what we understand was actually the vault that is right beyond me right now," says General Manager Tod Chambers. The 'deduct box' was where the governor famously locked his funds for political purposes.

"This is steel, steel right, you're coming into a vault, this is steel. Within that vault is an actual working jail cell. Now, use your imagination as to what that jail cell was used for because I don't certainly know but why would you have a jail cell inside this enormous vault that was the 'deduct box' that you would pay your duty into if you were a state employee," asks Chambers as he walks into the room. Now it is used for office space and storage but no one really knows it's original purpose.

"Luckily, the jail cell does not lock because you can imagine what might happen if we were able to lock people in there or if employees could lock other employees in there or if our guests found out you could lock someone in there, so no, it does not lock... You know Seymour Weiss the GM and Huey P. Long the Governor at that time were extremely, extremely tight and it's possible that he said 'Look GM I need to have a jail cell to collect my deduct money from the employees of Louisiana' and he built it for him because they were very friendly and apparently they were as 'thick as thieves' as the statement might go," says Chambers.

Another legend has it that Huey P. Long built Airline Highway so he could get from the statehouse to the back door of the hotel as quickly as possible.

"During that time of course, this was all things social, all things political all happened at The Roosevelt because Governor Long spent his time here. This was the hub of politics in Louisiana."

The most popular story of Huey P. Long and the hotel is set in The Sazerac Bar.

"Someone tried to assassinate him here in The Sazerac Bar, the gunshot hole is right up there. The story goes that that was the one that missed and that, in fact, he was shot on the Statehouse steps the next day. You should ask any of our bartenders how often people talk about 'where is the gunshot hole,' I mean it's asked to them probably dozens of times a week. People know of that time period who are from Louisiana and who come to visit New Orleans they want to come in to again celebrate the history of our city," says Chambers.

And there's so much history to be seen both on display and hidden for only the keenest eyes to find.

Join the discussion

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jeffpottberg July 27 2014 at 10:13 AM

Not a Jail Cell, this inside sliding door is a feature on most vaults. It was used during the day when the main vault door was opened and allowed easy access to the inner vault without opening and closing the main door.

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Ralph Richardson July 27 2014 at 5:59 PM

The person that wrote this article must be desperate for any kind of recognition. Maybe they should jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.

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CHUCK July 27 2014 at 9:02 AM

Quite boring. Not much of a story.

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JC July 27 2014 at 11:45 AM

The Deduct Box is not much different than having to pay union dues in order to get a job.

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Randy July 27 2014 at 1:56 PM

And thats all I have to say about that !

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ryder July 27 2014 at 4:13 PM

It looks more like a old elevator door to me.

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consultingxna July 27 2014 at 6:08 PM

The hotel manager doesn't have the history exactly correct. Gov. Long was not shot on the state house steps. He was shot inside the state house (capitol) in the elevator hallway on the first floor of the building. The bullet hole is also there, in Baton Rouge, in the marble wall.

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dennis warner July 27 2014 at 7:30 PM

zzzzz boring

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dennis warner July 27 2014 at 7:31 PM

zzzzz BORING

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