Hotel Bentley, also known as “The Crown Jewel of Cenla” is a historic hotel located in Alexandria, Louisiana. Over 100 years old, it has housed several famous individuals, such as John Wayne and Roy Rogers. Joseph Bentley built the hotel in 1907, believed to be because he was turned down a room at another hotel. The hotel officially opened on August 10, 1908. In 1933, an eight-story building was added, which resulted in 80 more rooms. The hotel was a meeting place for army commanders during World War II, and a WWII museum is now in the hotel’s lobby. The Bentley was closed by the late 1960s and reopened in the early 1980s. Afterward, it was sold in the late 1990s and closed in 2004. It only recently reopened in 2014.
Backstory and Context
Joseph Bentley was a Pennsylvanian native who found wealth in Central Louisiana’s lumber industry. He was said to have been turned down a room at the Ice House hotel and decided to make his own. He liked the Capitol Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas and hired architect George R. Mann to design a hotel. The hotel was first opened on August 10, 1908. He later added a new wing in 1933, which are now condominiums. Bentley created his living quarters on the top floor and had his own personal elevator, which still remains.
Hotel Bentley’s connections with the Louisiana maneuvers is what gives it most of its historic significance. The training maneuvers consisted of hundreds of thousands of soldiers being trained for the upcoming war in Europe. The hotel was a meeting place for the military officials to plan against European Axis forces. Several well-known officials stayed in the hotel, including Dwight Eisenhower and George S. Patton. There is currently a museum display in the first lobby which showcases the history of Louisiana maneuvers. The museum includes artifacts such as uniform pieces and soldier equipment.
Not only is the hotel one of the most historically significant places in Cenla, but it is also one of the most haunted. The creator of the hotel, Joseph Bentley, is said to have died in his third-floor suite. There have been rumors about his ghost roaming about the hotel. There are several other rumored ghosts: a girl who fell down an elevator, a man who fell down the lobby stairs, and ghosts looking over the balcony. The ghost stories have gotten so notable that the Bentley was featured on the Syfy show, Ghost Hunters. The hunters experience multiple paranormal activities and the episode ended up bringing lots of attention to the hotel.
"History." Hotel Bentley. Accessed February 21, 2019. http://www.hotelbentleyandcondos.com/more/history/.
"Bentley's Rich History Kept Alive." Hotel Bentley. October 17, 2015. Accessed February 21, 2019. http://www.hotelbentleyandcondos.com/press/bentleys-rich-history-kept-alive/.