Once the site of important political meetings, today this castle-like monument is home to the Museum of Political History.
Delve into centuries of Baton Rouge and Louisiana’s governmental past at the Old State Capitol. This handsome statehouse which dates back to the mid-1800s, stands proudly on a hill and looks out across the Mississippi River. Up until 1932, the Old State Capitol was the seat of the Louisiana State Legislative and also used as both a prison and garrison. It is now a designated National Historic Monument, which houses exhibitions about Louisiana’s fascinating political history.
The building itself is designed in Gothic style and bears striking resemblances to a medieval castle. Its façade boasts typical Gothic architectural aspects, including crenellations, towers and turrets. The capitol caught fire twice during the Civil War. A fire in 1862 almost ruined the building, which prompted author Mark Twain to say that it would have been more “to let dynamite finish what a charitable fire began.”
Inside, the distinguishing highlights are the regal spiral staircase, stained-glass windows and a stained-glass dome. The well-preserved chambers and function rooms now host the exhibits of the Museum of Political History.
Find interactive exhibits and video presentations that explain the trials and tribulations of Louisiana’s biggest political events. Follow in the footsteps of notable state governors such as Huey P. Long. Learn about Long’s assassination at Louisiana State Capitol in 1935 and see the gun supposedly used to shoot him.
Don’t miss the state-of-the-art Ghost of the Castle exhibit. It tells the story of the building’s chaotic history through the eyes of the ghost of Sarah Morgan. Morgan was a Baton Rouge resident in the second half of the 19th century and wrote a chronicle of her life during the American Civil War.
The Old State Capitol sits in the southern section of downtown Baton Rouge. It’s a just a short walk from Baton Rouge River Center and Shaw Center for the Arts. Metered street parking is available on the encompassing streets.
The landmark and museum are open from Tuesday to Saturday and admission is free.