Journeys of Discovery: Louisiana's historic, neo-Gothic former state capitol

May 9, 2019

Mark Twain was reputed to say that Louisiana’s state capitol was “the ugliest thing on the Mississippi.” Maybe it’s a matter of time and distance, but today lots of people think the former capitol building in Baton Rouge is extraordinarily enchanting, with powerful neo-Gothic medieval castle motifs accented with twin crenellated turrets.

The state government eventually outgrew the old capitol, and under the guidance of Governor Huey Long, legislators moved in to a new building in 1932.

Today the former state capitol building is a national historic landmark and functions as Louisiana’s official museum of political history. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Mary Durusau, museum division director with the Louisiana Office of the Secretary of State.

Adjacent to the old capitol, berthed on the Mississippi River, is the naval destroyer USS Kidd, which saw heavy action in World War II. In 1982 she was towed to Baton Rouge, where the Kidd now serves as a living memorial open to the public—the only surviving World War II U.S. naval destroyer that was never modernized and retains its circa-1945 appearance and armament.

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