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
and a quick lunch, headed for downtown Baton Rouge. Our first stop was to have been the Old State Capitol
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.
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.
Alaska 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;
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
flags 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
above the striking bronze elevator doors
which 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.
Chambers 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.
In 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.
The 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.
The 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.
To the west, the Mississippi flows majestically toward the Gulf.
To the north is Louisiana’s prosperous and economically important chemical corridor and in the distance stands Southern University.
To the south are the capitol gardens with the grave and statue of Huey P. Long. Louisiana State University can be seen in the distance.
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).
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.
Proving our hypothesis, another church we’d hoped to visit, St. James Episcopal, was not open.
Just a block from our car, we stopped at Lafayette Park to see the “Interactive Fountains”
While there, we noticed what looked like the booster stage of a rocket used to launch space craft.
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!