Thursday, November 19, 2015

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

This is the capitol city of Louisiana,  and we do try to visit the state capitols as much as possible.  Our niece Kat was a bit dubious about visiting the city, but she was up for going where we wanted to go.  During the course of the day we learned about how the city got its name.  Baton Rouge in English means "red stick".  A French explorer in 1698 saw a tree stripped of its bark and draped with freshly killed animals.  It marked the boundary line between two American Indian tribes.  So Baton Rouge became known as the place of the red stick, I must admit it does sound a bit odd.
A place high on my list to visit was the old governor's mansion.  The Georgian mansion constructed in 1930 for Huey Long is said to be a copy of the White House.  It was replaced as the governor's home in 1961. Unfortunately we were not able to tour the mansion as it was closed for the day.   Here I need to digress, as I want to write here about Jimmie Davis, the first governor to live in the new governor's mansion in 1962.  He wrote "You are my sunshine" and "The green,green grass of home".  Just for writing those two pieces of music, he far outshines the other governor of Louisiana, Huey Long,  of whom we were going to learn more than we would ever want to know in the course of our day!  Davis served two terms, and was known as the "singing governor".  It has been said that he sang his way into the hearts of the people of Louisiana.
Back to Huey Long, his statue was the one of the first objects we saw looming over the horizon as we walked unto the capitol grounds.  One of his hands is atop a miniature version of the current capitol building.  And how that building came to be the tallest state capitol in the United States is an interesting one.  Long had visited Lincoln, Nebraska and saw their modern tall capitol.  He wanted something similar, but bigger.  The current capitol building is 34 flours high and stands at 450 feet.
 Unfortunately Long was assassinated in the new capitol three years later.  His body lies in the memorial garden where his statue is located.   There is not much to see in the capitol, other than the house and senate rooms and the overlook of the city from the 27th floor.  The senate room is pictured below.
The senate room is all ready for Christmas, quite over the top with the decorations.  The docent who gave us a brief talk about the capitol noted that the senators and representatives are only here about three months out of the year during the spring months.  We also learned that only the senators have offices in the building, and they are closet size.  The representatives carry out their business in the lobby.  There are 64 parishes in the state, compared to 19 when the state was annexed into the United States in 1812.  The docent also noted that the ceilings in both the senate and house are made from the pulp of sugar cane.  We got a good view of the capitol grounds as well as the city from the overlook on the 27th floor.  The picture below is the view looking to the west and the Mississippi River.  Capitol Lake is in the foreground.  There will be more on Baton Rouge in my next posting.

No comments:

Post a Comment