March 1, 1932
The first concrete had been poured in December of 1930, the cornerstone had been set in May of 1931, and
today on March 1, 1932, the new State Capitol was completed. The legislature had appropriated $5 million to
construct the 27-story skyscraper and it visitors could see where every penny went. Built in the beaux arts
style that told the story of Louisiana and her people in stone, bronze, wood and even bagasse, it would
become the jewel of the Baton Rouge skyline. It would contain statues and the first fresco murals by Conrad
Albrizio that would be the first in a public building south of the Mason Dixon line.
March 2, 3000 BC
Five thousand years ago-or maybe eight thousand, the people that anthropologists call the Archaic people
lived in the Baton Rouge area and were hard at work on the construction of the oldest human-built structure
in Baton Rouge, the ceremonial mound near the Arsenal Museum. Older than the Pyramids of Egypt, the
Arsenal Mound is at least a thousand years older than the other two large mounds in Baton Rouge -one on
the LSU campus and the second on the site of Town Square on North Boulevard that was leveled in the
1800's. Unlike the other two, the Arsenal mound was never used as a burial mound.
March 3, 1881
In 1880, Southern University opened its doors for the first time this week (3/7) in New Orleans. Senator P.B.
S. Pinchback and other black leaders petitioned the state to establish the university came into existence on
April 10, 1880, with by the passage of Act 87 of 1880. The college would initially open Calliope Street and
later move to Magazine and Soniat Street Square in 1883. The university provided academic studies in the
primary grades and extend through high school, along with some college-level work. It also offered training in
agriculture, home economics, printing, carpentry, and tin-smithing. The college would struggle in New
Orleans and move to Baton Rouge in 1914.
March 4, 1927
The Island Queen, said to be the largest inland river steamer called at Baton Rouge this weekend (3/6) in
1927, en route from New Orleans to Cincinnati. The Island Queen was a steel hull sidewheeler built in
Midland, Pennsylvania, in 1923. She was christened in Cincinnati on April 18, 1925, and used for tramping
between New Orleans and Pittsburgh. She was considered to be the largest river pleasure boat in the world,
accommodating four thousand passengers. In 1947, a welding accident detonated the boat’s fuel tank
causing a massive explosion at the Pittsburgh dock. No passengers were aboard at the time of the fire, but
19 crew members were killed.
March 5, 1968
One hour and twenty minutes after the new Earl K. Long Hospital opened its doors on Airline Highway today
in 1968, seven pound Vera Louis was the first baby to be born there. Labor diputes, equipment delays and
staffing problems had delayed the hospital’s opening by twenty-one months. While all hospital services would
not be available for several months, Earl K. was able to open 31 of its 250 beds on its first day with the help
of more than one hundred volunteers who had been recruited by the American Red Cross . The hospital
would close in 2010 and be demolished on June 12th, 2015.
March 6, 2005
The Grand Opening of the Shaw Center in downtown Baton Rouge was held this weekend in 2005. After a
ceremony attended by Governor Kathleen Blanco and Mayor-President Kip Holden, hundreds of people filed
into the $65 million project. Within the maze-like building's six floors Saturday was live music, acting classes
and demonstrations of the different types of art the center will display, as well as the opening of the Tsunami
sushi restaurant later that evening. Most of the funding for the project came from four partners: the State of
Louisiana, LSU, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and the City-Parish. Private donors provided about $15
March 7, 1847
St. Mary's Select and Free School, the first Catholic school in the city, was founded by the Sisters of Charity
this month in 1847. It met for a time at the home of Thomas Gibbes Morgan, the father of Civil War diarist
Sarah Morgan on Church Street, which later became Fourth Street. Despite the reasonable six dollar per
month tuition for elementary students and nine dollars per month for students in advance grades, the school
would fail by 1851. St. Mary’s School would be replaced that year by St. Mary’s Academy, run by the Jesuit
order, which in turn would close in 1853 during a yellow fever outbreak.
March 8, 1852
Today in 1852, construction completed on what we now call the Old State Capitol. New York native James H.
Dakin was hired to design the Baton Rouge capitol building. Dakin had been a colonel of a militia regiment
called the Louisiana Volunteers and went to the Mexican War in 1845. Dakin referred to his turreted design,
built 1847-52, as "Castellated Gothic" due to its decoration with cast iron, which was both cheaper and more
durable than other building materials used at the time. Mark Twain, however, as a steamboat pilot in the
1850s, loathed the sight of it, calling it pathetic and perhaps the ugliest public building in America.
March 9, 1914
Today is Founders Day at Southern University, marking the day when Southern opened its Scotlandville
campus in 1914. After floundering in New Orleans for more than thirty years, the university made the
commitment to be ore accessible to students from throughout the state and started looking for an
appropriate site. The eventual winner was the former Scotland Farm, five miles north of Baton Rouge. Dr.
Joseph Samuel Clark was the first president at the Scotlandville campus, and under Clark Southern began its
evolution into a major black institution of higher learning, growing from fewer than 75 students in 1914 to
more than 500 at the end of his tenure.
March 10, 1980
David Conner Treen was inaugurated as Louisiana’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction today in
1980. Treen had been born in Baton Rouge in 1928 and grew up in Metairie, where in 1972, he had become
the first Republican in modern times to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana.
Treen’s oath of office as governor was administered by Judicial Court Judge Doug Gonzales, a Republican
from Baton Rouge, who gave Treen a Bible inscribed, "Dave, Upon this good book, you took your oath of
office. Please keep it close so it can serve as a constant reminder of your solemn commitment to the people
of this great state ..."
March 11, 1976
Baton Rougeans learned a new expression—fern bar—today in 1976 when P.O.E.T.S. opened on College
Drive. It was located roughly where the food section at the College Drive Wal-Mart is now. P.O.E.T.S was the
epitome of the genre of adult watering holes that catered to singles and were usually decorated with ferns or
other greenery, as well as such decor as fake Tiffany lamps. T.G.I. Friday’s on 63rd Street in New York is
considered to be the first of th type. Food prices at P.O.E.T.S. ran the gamut from the 1.70 cheese omelet to
the filet mignon for $9.75. All dinners included the free salad bar.
March 12, 1943
On this night in the middle of World War II, the fifteen thousand Baton Rougeans who flocked to Tiger
Stadium were thinking of anything but “Action Overhead”, sponsored by the Baton Rouge Civilian Defense
organization, was a demonstration of what actually happens during an air raid. A miniature town was erected
on the field and attacked with aerial bombs of different types. The "cast" then demonstrated the work of
firemen, rescue squads, air-raid wardens, medical crews and other civilian defense groups. It was designed
to provide a new understanding of what an air raid means, how they can be guarded against and what
precautions should be taken.
March 13, 1813
George Garig who owned the plantation where the LSU campus is now located allowed the use of a high
point on the bluff to be used as a community burial ground. The first known burial was that of John James
Neilson on March 13, 1813. We use his death date as the birth date of Highland Cemetery. The cemetery
was mostly abandoned after the Civil War, and some of the families reinterred their dead in the larger St.
Joseph Cemetery in Baton Rouge. In the 1970's, Evelyn Thom spearheaded an extensive restoration in
conjunction with the American Bicentennial of 1976.
March 14, 2010
Today in 2010, LSU star Lolo Jones won the gold medal in the 60-meter hurdles at the Indoor World
Championship at Doha in Qatar. Lolo was born Lori Susan Jones in Iowa in 1982, and attended ran track at
LSU where she won three NCAA titles and garnered 11 All-American honors at LSU, and indoor national titles
in 2007, 2008, and 2009 in the 60 meter hurdles, with gold medals at the World Indoor Championship in
2008 and 2010 in Doha. Lolo was favored to win the 100-meter hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but
tripped on the penultimate hurdle, finishing in seventh place.
March 15, 1961
Today in 1961, Sears Roebuck and Company purchased land for a new store at the intersection of Florida
Blvd. and Ardenwood from Miss Mary Bird Perkins. The store, one of the largest in the Southeast would open
in February, 1963, but competition from the nearby Bon Marche spelled the writing on the wall for the store.
When Sears closed and moved to a new store at Cortana Mall in 1976, the old building would house the
Louisiana Department of Revenue for almost twenty years. In 2003, developer Milton Womack donated the
property to Recreation and Park Commission, and after an extensive renovation, it became BREC's