Historic Sites

Every city has its own unique feel and vibe, which is determined by a number of things. The local historic sites are no doubt one of the largest contributing factors to the aura that surrounds a city. When in Baton Rouge, users recommend paying a visit to Louisiana State Capitol Building, in the Downtown area to get a feel for what truly makes up the city.

Louisiana State Capitol Building
Looking more like a skyscraper than a state capitol, this striking Art Deco structure was built in 1931 at the behest of then-governor Huey Long. Rising 450 feet and 34 stories, the Capitol is filled with sculptures, murals, and rich materials. Surrounding it are also fifty acres of gardens, and from the observation deck on the 27th floor, amazing views are afforded. In 1935, Governor Long, a controversial figure in state politics, was assassinated in the building by a local doctor for indeterminate reasons. (225-342-7317)

San Francisco Plantation
Strikingly ornate, this home is distinctively Louisianan but is quite a departure from standard plantation architecture. Some have even deemed it "Steamboat Gothic" for its stylistic affinity to river paddleboats. Set along the Mississippi, the home was built in 1856 by Edmond Bozonier Marmillion and was quite an expensive venture, even for the time. Thanks to careful restorations in 1977, San Francisco shines again with gilt, color, faux painting, period fixtures, authentic furnishings, and a wealth of antiques. FYI: The name is a corruption of the French phrase "sans Fruscins," meaning "without money," or "broke." Forty minutes from Baton Rouge. (985-535-2341, 888-322-1756)

Old Governor's Mansion
Constructed in 1930, this stately mansion bears a strong resemblance to the White House and is believed to have been built in its image. The home was erected for Governor Huey Long and was lavishly adorned with sumptuous appointments and furnishings. When a new mansion was built in 1962, this one was given other uses until it was restored and opened for tours and special events. Visitors can now browse the elegant home and observe its beautiful details and artifacts that remember its past governor-residents. Call for information about group tours. (225-387-2464)

Old State Capitol
Although Mark Twain had no fondness for this Gothic Revival structure, describing it as a "monstrosity," the Old Capitol boasts unmistakable presence. Situated to overlook the Mississippi, it was in use from 1850 to 1932 and even served as a prison. Today, the restored building houses a museum and acts to archive film, video, and other governmental documents. Exhibits detail the voting process, the assassination of former governor Huey Long, and the statehood and history of Louisiana. A gift shop is available, and the Old Arsenal Museum is located nearby. (225-342-0500, 800-488-2968)

Oak Alley Plantation
As stately as the plantation home of imagination, this Greek Revival structure features an oak alley leading to the entrance and is a magnificent presence amid the grounds. Dating from 1839, Oak Alley was built after the planting of the oaks and was situated to maximize the approach to the home. Costumed guides offer tours, and on the grounds are a restaurant, cafe, gift shop, and blacksmith's shop. Bed-and-breakfast accommodations are available, and private functions can be accommodated as well. Midway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. (225-265-2151, 800-442-5539)

Louisiana State University
This picturesque, 2000-acre campus is home to 31,000 students, largely from Louisiana but from throughout the country and the world too. The university was founded in 1860 and is a state-funded institution. On campus, visitors will find history, science, and art museums, along with lovely architecture. Home to the Fighting Tigers, the university community loves football, and its autumnal tailgating festivities are legendary. Geaux Tigers! (225-578-5030, 225-578-6908)

Magnolia Mound Plantation
Nestled in a grove of gracefully arching trees, Magnolia Mound began as a small, late 18th-century home and was expanded into a plantation home. Its French Creole styling is relatively simple, and the home, elevated on piers, features a generous porch. One of Louisiana's oldest wooden structures, it also features a coved ceiling and French and Caribbean details. Along with the home itself, guides in period costume point out gardens, dependencies, and slave cabins. One of the closest plantations to Baton Rouge. (225-343-4955)

Southern University
Overlooking the Mississippi River, this predominantly-black public university was founded in 1880 and has a student population of 9000. It also has branches in Shreveport and New Orleans. On its 500-plus-acre campus are buildings in a range of architectural styles from traditional to modern; a university-held farm sits north of campus. Undergraduate, graduate, professional, and doctoral degrees are awarded. The school's mascot is the jaguar. (225-771-4500, 225-771-2430)

St. James Episcopal Church
This picturesque, Gothic Revival church was built in 1895 of red brick. Arched portals, a steeply pitched roof, and a square belltower are distinguishing features of the sanctuary, which still has an active parish. History affirms that one of the founders of the church was Margaret Taylor, President Zachary Taylor's wife. (225-387-5141)

St. Joseph's Cathedral
Reputed to be Baton Rouge's oldest church, this elegant cathedral actually sits on the site of two previous sanctuaries. The first was a Spanish church dating to the 1790s. The present building was constructed in the mid-19th century, although its steeple was added some forty years later. The detailed, symmetrical exterior is completely traditional and contrasts with more modern interior furnishings set amid arched, stained glass windows and a raftered ceiling. These contemporary renovations were carried out in the 20th century. (225-387-5928)

Maps and Directions

Louisiana State Capitol Building 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
San Francisco Plantation 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: GARYVILLE
Old Governor's Mansion 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Old State Capitol 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Oak Alley Plantation 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: VACHERIE
Louisiana State University 10Best List Arrow
Type: Sightseeing
Neighborhood: LSU
Magnolia Mound Plantation 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites
Neighborhood: BATON ROUGE
Southern University 10Best List Arrow
Type: Sightseeing
Neighborhood: BATON ROUGE
St. James Episcopal Church 10Best List Arrow
Type: Religious Sites
Neighborhood: Downtown
St. Joseph's Cathedral 10Best List Arrow
Type: Historic Sites, Religious Sites
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
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