Skip to content
Culture & Religion

The Spectacular Stained Glass Dome of the Old Louisiana State Capitol

It’s said that the Antebellum South better resembled feudal Europe than northern Yankeedom. Perhaps that’s why the architect who designed the Old Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge decided it should look like this:

Now that’s what I call Southern Gothic.

Here are some quick facts about the building and the city it calls home:

-It was constructed in 1847 when Baton Rouge had a population of 2,269. Over 230,000 now call the city home.

-Why is it the Old Louisiana State Capitol? That’s because it only used to be the Capitol. In fact, it’s been 84 years since Louisianans tossed out their Gothic digs to go full Art-Deco.

-The name “Baton Rouge” stems from a legend telling how the first French explorers to survey the area came across a bloody red pole (le bâton rouge) that marked the territories of two rival Native American tribes.

-The Old Capitol Building has served many purposes in the years since its construction. It was captured by Union troops during the Civil War and used as both a garrison and prison. It’s also served as a center for multiple veterans’ associations and the WPA. Now a nationally recognized Historical Landmark, the Old Capitol currently houses the Museum of Political History.

-Many southerners admired (and still admire) the building. A young Mark Twain was not among them:

“It is pathetic … that a whitewashed castle, with turrets and things … should ever have been built in this otherwise honorable place.”

Who knows if ol’ Sam Clemens would have thought differently if he had seen the inside of the place after 1882, when a local engineer installed the beautiful stained-glass dome you see above.

Old State Capitol Official Website

Top photo credit: Erik Larson / Flickr

Castle exterior photo credit: CC Proctor / WikiCommons


Up Next