3. August 2010 20:01
Immediately upon driving into Baton Rouge, the tall tower created by former governor Huey Long rose above the surrounding buildings. The 1932 art deco state capitol building certainly stands out in the city’s skyline as the infamous Long intended.
After I toured the Old State Capitol built in 1847, I found it hard to image even the fame-seeking Long needed a work space more impressive than the original capitol’s Gothic Revival medieval castle architecture. The Old State Capitol’s imposing spiral staircase drew my upwards until I looked up at the breathtaking stain glass vaulted ceiling. In fact, every detail of the castle screams elegance down to the decorated door hinges.
The Old State Capitol is now a museum of political history with a new video presentation about the building’s dynamic history. The exhibit on Huey Long showed the two faces of one of Louisiana’s most controversial figures. The room had a reproduced crack running down the center to divide exhibits on the light and dark sides of Long.
On the positive side, Long improved roads, started a free textbook program and improved health care. On the darker side, Long seemed power-hungry and was almost impeached until he appointed himself senator.
Though his methods may be questionable, the beauty of the new state capitol Long built is undeniable with decorative marble, bronze details and a sweeping view of Baton Rouge from the capitol’s observation deck.
Vaulted ceiling of the Old State Capitol
Huey Long exhibit in the Old State Capitol
The new and current state capitol