A building that once housed the Louisiana State Legislature, Louisiana’s Old State Capitol was built to look like a castle. Because of its appearance, the locals have taken to calling it Louisiana Castle or the Castle of Baton Rouge.
Ghosts of Old Louisiana State Capitol
It is said that Louisiana’s State Capitol has the aura of lurking spirits in unrest. The resident ghost is named Sarah Morgan. Sarah is reported to be a girl who lived during the civil war. Her family donated the property on the bluff at the edge of the river where the capitol now stands. As a little girl she watched the castle being built, burn and built again.
As the story goes, she decided that she would stay there when she passes on. Her ghost reportedly tells of being a witness to various impeachment trials and parties.
Footsteps can be heard down the empty hallways, doors open and shut on their own and visitors have reported the feeling of being watched or observed. Tom Clarke, a security officer at the Old State Capitol, has said that they sometimes see a flash of light or shadows on their cameras and monitors. According to him, it is often the people who are on night shift who are plagued by odd experiences.
In 1846, it was decided that the Louisiana Legislature will move its seat of government to Baton Rouge and in 1847 Baton Rouge donated a parcel of land, which costs about $20,000, to the state for a state capitol building. This would take away the seat of government from New Orleans. The land donated by the state stood on top of a Baton Rouge bluff which faced the Mississippi River.
An architect named James Darkin was commissioned to design the new capitol building. He was told not to mimic other capitol buildings and he came up with the design of a Neo-gothic medieval castle. Darkin called his design “Castellated Gothic”.
The materials used were much cheaper and more durable. During the Civil War, David Farragut, a Union admiral, captured the state of New Orleans and the seat of government was moved away from Baton Rouge. The castle was used as a prison and then as a garrison. While it was used as a garrison it caught fire twice and the building as left by Union troops gutted and empty shell.
In 1882 the castle was transformed and reconstructed by architect and engineer William A. Freret. He is also credited with the installation of the stained glass dome and the spiral staircase which have become focal points of the interior. The castle was then used to house veterans’ organizations which are federally chartered.
The castle was again in restoration during the 1990s and it has now become the Museum of Political History. Just recently the façade of the castle had been refurbished with different shades. There are several events held there including annual balls, dances and showcases of French culture.
Admission to the building is free and the building is also accessible for people who are on wheelchairs. There are museum tours from Tuesday through Saturday starting at 9am and ending at 4pm.
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