December 12, 2013 – Louisiana’s State Capitol

The drive from Jackson to Baton Rouge was blissfully uneventful.  While the scenery was mundane, and could have been anywhere in the east, the roads were good, traffic light and weather sunny.

After settling in at a nearly empty equestrian RV park

2013-12-12 - Farr Equestrian RV Park, Baton Rouge, LA - Site A-3

and a quick lunch, headed for downtown Baton Rouge.  Our first stop was to have been the Old State Capitol

Old State Capitol (b), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12Old State Capitol (a), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12

A 160-year old Gothic building that has withstood war, fire, scandal, abandonment and an occasional fist fight.  Unfortunately, was undergoing renovations and not due to reopen until late January.  

From there we walked north to the current State Capitol Building … at 450 feet (137 m) tall and with 34 stories, it is the tallest building in Baton Rouge, the seventh tallest building in Louisiana, and tallest capitol in the United States.

State Capitol Building (a), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12State Capitol Building (c), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12State Capitol Building (d), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12Flags Atop State Capitol Building, Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12 Completed in March 1932, a mere 14 months after construction began,twenty-five hundred rail cars were needed to bring in the limestone used on the exterior and the interior marbles which came from distant places, including Vermont and Italy. The cost to complete the building was a modest $5 million.

The architects used symbolism throughout the design of the building. As the square tower rises, it is cut away to an octagon at the 22nd floor. At this point four allegorical winged figures guard the corners and they represent Law, Science, Philosophy and Art.   The State Capitol is topped with a 23-foot-tall (7 m) lantern “symbolizing the higher aspirations of Louisiana

The entrance is approached by a grand staircase with one step for each of the 48 states, listed in the order of their admittance to the Union … with the first thirteen steps commemorating the original colonies.

State Capitol Building (Steps), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12Alaska and Hawaii were added to the right and left of the motto of the Great Seal of the United States, E Pluribus Unum.

Flanking both sides of the stairs are free-standing, limestone sculptures;

To the east is The Patriots - an armored soldier and the mourners of a warrior slain in battle

To the east is The Patriots – an armored soldier and the mourners of a warrior slain in battle

To the west is The Pioneers - men and women of courage who created our state out of the wilderness

To the west is The Pioneers – men and women of courage who created our state out of the wilderness

In the striking Memorial Hall, there is a large bronze relief map of Louisiana that shows many of the state’s products and is encircled by the names of the 64 parishes … which is, unfortunately beneath

State Capitol Building (Christmas Tree in Memorial Hall), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12flags that have flown over all or parts of Louisiana (Castile and Leon, Bourbon France, Bourbon Spain, England, French tricolor, 15-star U.S. flag, flag of the Republic of West Florida, Louisiana national flag, Confederate Battle flag, Confederate Stars and Bars, Louisiana State flag, and the modern U.S. flag)  hang from the balcony

State Capitol Building (Memorial Hall - Flags Which Have Flown Over Louisiana), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12above the striking bronze elevator doors

State Capitol Building (Elevator Door), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12which feature portraits of all American governors of Louisiana, from Claiborne to Long.

At the ends of the Hall hang two large mural paintings.  These oil paintings on canvas show idealized scenes of family, harvest, rich farmlands and the arts of sculpture, music and literature.

State Capitol Building (Memorial Hall - Mural -b), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12State Capitol Building (Memorial Hall - Mural -a), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12Chambers of both the Senate and the House of Representatives can be reached through magnificent bronze doors.  Each weighs a solid ton, yet opens as smoothly as a well-crafted cabinet on oiled hinges. Panels on the House doors represent events in the state’s history; Senate doors depict colonial Louisiana.

State Capitol Building (House Chamber Door - b), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12In the Senate chamber detail is present everywhere … from the desks to the rails, ceiling, and grillwork.  Many kinds of stone have been used in the walls, and the desks are of walnut and Australian laurel wood.  The coffered ceiling is of celotex which is made from bagasse, a by-product of sugar production.

State Capitol Building (Senate Chamber - a), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12State Capitol Building (Senate Chamber - b), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12State Capitol Building (Senate Chamber Ceiling), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12The House chamber is similar to the Senate in the use of stone, bronze and wood, but Louisiana symbols like pine cones, black-eyed Susans, and cattails are used.

State Capitol Building (House Chamber - a), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12State Capitol Building (House Chamber Ceiling), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12The Observation Deck is on the 27th floor and overlooks Baton Rouge at a height of 350 feet. The views are spectacular.

To the east are formal rose gardens and a well-preserved Arsenal, constructed in 1835.

State Capitol Building (View Looking East), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12To the west, the Mississippi flows majestically toward the Gulf.

State Capitol Building (View Looking West), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12 State Capitol Building (View Looking Southwest), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12To the north is Louisiana’s prosperous and economically important chemical corridor and in the distance stands Southern University.

State Capitol Building (View Looking North), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12To the south are the capitol gardens with the grave and statue of Huey P. Long. Louisiana State University can be seen in the distance.

State Capitol Building (View Looking South - a), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12

Huey P. Long, as Governor of Louisiana, was the driving force behind the Depression-era construction of the State Capitol.  Three years after its completion, while serving as a U.S. Senator from the state, was assassinated on the steps of the Capitol and is buried beneath his statue.

Huey P. Long, as Governor of Louisiana, was the driving force behind the Depression-era construction of the State Capitol. Three years after its completion, while serving as a U.S. Senator from the state, was assassinated on the steps of the Capitol and is buried beneath his statue.

Enroute back to our car, we stopped by St Joseph Cathedral (interestingly, Catholic churches always seem to be open while those of other denominations are generally locked up tight).

St Joseph Cathedral (b), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12

Built in 1853, it is a faux Gothic structure.  The steeple was added in 1891.  The clock over the door has been telling time for more than 100 years.

St Joseph Cathedral (Nave), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12 St Joseph Cathedral (Organ Loft and Nave), Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12Proving our hypothesis, another church we’d hoped to visit, St. James Episcopal, was not open.

St James Episcopal Church, Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12Just a block from our car, we stopped at Lafayette Park to see the “Interactive Fountains”

Lafayette Square Interactive Fountains, Baton Rouge, LA -  2013-12-12While there, we noticed what looked like the booster stage of a rocket used to launch space craft.

What Is It - Lafayette Square, Baton Rouge, LA - 2013-12-12However, we have no idea what it is.  Any suggestions?

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1 Response to December 12, 2013 – Louisiana’s State Capitol

  1. Jo Craddock says:

    Thanks for the pretty picture of St. James Episcopal Church. We're sorry we missed meeting you, but unlike the Catholic cathedral up the street, we also have a Day School, and, regretfully, to keep our young children secure, must keep doors closed. When you're next in the area, please give us a heads up, or use the call button, and any of us would be glad to invite you in and show you around!

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