August 16, 1831
Perhaps the most deadly hurricane ever to hit Louisiana came ashore today in 1831. It was called the Great
Barbados Hurricane. Barbados had been the first to feel its wrath. Bridgetown had been obliterated on August
10th by a seventeen-foot surge that killed 1,500 people. It ravaged Puerto Rico and Cuba before making
landfall as a Category 3 in Terrebonne Parish and destroying the resort community of Lost Island. New Orleans
experienced its 10-foot surge that flooded the back part of the city. 1500 were killed in Louisiana, and the sugar
cane crop was wiped out. In all, the stormed created damage estimated to be $185 million in 2016 dollars.
August 17, 1998
Today in 1998, Baton Rouge became "The 225". 504, which was one of the original area codes, had served the
entire state of Louisiana from 1947 until 1957, when area code 318 was established to serve western and north
Louisiana. 225 became Louisiana's third area code, serving the parishes in the greater Baton Rouge area.
Many Baton Rougeans spent the better part of the day either reprogramming telephones, fax machines, pagers
and burglar alarms or ordering new stationery and business cards. At the time, the phone company claimed
that the numbers 2-2-5 corresponded on the alpha-numeric keyboard to the letters C-A-J; a nod to the area's
August 18, 1920
Today in 1920, the Tennessee legislature adopted the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, the 36th state
to do so, and women’s suffrage became law and women became voters. (No thanks to Louisiana, where the
19th amendment would not be adopted until June 11, 1970--fifty years later!) Baton Rougeans celebrated the
way Baton Rougeans always celebrate something big—by driving around town and honking horns. A large rally
was held in front of City Hall, and the effects of the amendment were almost immediately evident in Baton
Rouge, where women were instrumental in the success of the first female candidate for sheriff, Eudora S. Day,
August 19, 1967
Before they ever played a game in New Orleans, the New Orleans Saints played a game in Baton Rouge tonight
in 1967. In their inaugural season, the Saints were drumming up enthusiasm around the state by playing
exhibition games in Baton Rouge and Shreveport. 40,000 loud and happy fans thronged Tiger Stadium,
despite heavy rains in the afternoon and a civil rights march in South Baton Rouge. The Saints came from
behind to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half to become the first NFL expansion team to win two
games in pre-season. It was the first professional football game ever played in Baton Rouge.
August 20, 1967
Today in 1967, A. Z. Young, then head of the Bogalusa Voters League, led approximately one thousand
marchers from Capitol Junior High School to the State Capitol in support of a number of demands for racial
equality. The demands included “a fair proportion of the population” on all state agencies, including the state
police, the Welfare Department, the state public health unit, the Louisiana Employment and the Washington-St.
Tammany Charity Hospital. The march had begun in Bogalusa on August 10th and arrived in Baton Rouge on
Saturday evening. Young, the leader of the march, would later be honored with the naming of a park near the
August 21, 1862
In the aftermath of the Civil War Battle of Baton Rouge, the Union Army burned or tore down all of the houses in
Spanish Town, except for those along North Street used for hospitals and officers’ quarters for the army. When
the army evacuated the city on today in 1862, an earlier order to burn the rest of the city was countermanded
to save asylums for orphans and the handicapped. Instead, they sacked the community before their departure.
Sarah Morgans diary gave a detailed description of the wholesale destruction visited on her familys house.
Portraits were slashed, bureaus and desks were rifled, furniture overturned, dishes shattered, and smaller
objects were looted.
August 22, 1991
Today in 1991, the Varsity Theater on Highland Road opened its doors as a music venue, after a fifty-three
year run as a movie theater. Following months of rumors that they were going to take over the Varsity, Tim
Hood and Michael Ryan, owners of the next-door Chimes Restaurant and Bar, signed a 10-year lease on the
building. Renovations began this summer and continued until moments before the grand opening. Func Haus
and the Bluerunners played opening weekend. The original Varsity Theater had screened mainstream films
from 1937 until 1969, and then showed adult films until 1976. The theater closed for remodeling and reopened
in 1977 as a twin cinema.
August 23, 1973
The University Cinema in the University Shopping Center on Highland Road re-opened today in 1973 with four
screens. The South’s first Jerry Lewis Twin Cinema was Baton Rouge’s first twin cinema and opened in
November, 1970. The marketing plan was that a movie for adults would show in one auditorium and a movie
suitable for children would show in the other so that families could go to the movies together. In its ads, the
theater promised that it would never show an X-rated film. Two more screens and the new name debuted in
1973. The theater was sold to the UA cinema circuit in 1986 and closed in 2000.
August 24, 1955
This week in 1955, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that LSU could not deny admission to
qualified African-Americans in its undergraduate division. The court had ruled earlier that African Americans
must be admitted to the graduate school and law school. The ruling came in a case filed against the LSU Board
of Supervisors by Alexander P. Tureaud, Sr. of New Orleans on behalf of his son, Alexander P. Tureaud, Jr.
Previously, the circuit court had ruled that the district judge was without jurisdiction to hear and determine the
application for judgment and that a three-judge court was required.
August 25, 1991
Today in 1991, Baton Rouge native Lynn Whitfield, won an Emmy award for Lead Actress in a mini-series for
her portrayal of Josephine Baker in 'The Josephine Baker Story" on HBO. She had also received a Golden
Globe nomination for her role in the series. Whitfield was born in Baton Rouge in 1953, the daughter of Jean
and Valerian Smith. She is the eldest of four children and a graduate of Lee High and Howard University. Her
dentist father was active in local theater and was instrumental in developing her interest in acting. She
appeared off-Broadway in New York and in Los Angeles before breaking into film and television work.
August 26, 1976
This week in 1967, Trinity Christian College, later Trinity Baptist College purchased one thousand acres on
Greenwell Springs Road as a site for a new college that was envisioned for Baton Rouge. Dr. Mack P. Stewart,
pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church, chairman of the college’s board of trustees and president of the college
said that surveying and engineering work on the new campus would begin immediately, with construction getting
underway in a few weeks. Degrees in business, elementary and secondary education, Bible and physical
education were envisioned. Dr. Stewart and the Trinity Baptist Church parted ways in 1968, and the writing was
on the wall for the college.
August 27, 1963
Today in 1963, the Lakeshore Hotel on Third Street near the State Capitol opened its doors. Over the next
twenty years, it would change its name to the Parliament House, the White House Inn and—briefly, the
Lakeshore Statler Hilton Hotel. Its proximity to the capitol would make it a magnet for legislators and lobbyists. In
the late sixties, Governor John McKeithen would joke that he could go out on the porch of the Governor's
Mansion and hear the lobbyists plotting against him across the lake. When it closed for the last time in the
1990's, it was called Inn on the Lake.
August 28, 1977
This week in 1977, Lou Brock became the all-time major league stolen base leader in Major League Baseball
when he broke Ty Cobb's career record of 892 stolen bases. The record had been one of the most durable in
baseball history. After attending high school in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, Brock attended Southern University and
tried out for the baseball team to secure an athletic scholarship. In his second year as a Jaguar, he hit for a .
500 average. Southern won the NAIA baseball championship during his junior year, and Sweet Lou was
selected for the United States baseball team in the 1959 Pan American Games.
August 29, 2005
Today in 2005, everything changed. Katrina washed roared ashore on the Louisiana-Mississippi state line, and
it would become one of the deadliest natural disasters in U.S. history, leaving at least 1,245 people dead, and a
further 135 missing. Broken levees in New Orleans forced the evacuation of the city. More than 200,000 people
would relocate to Baton Rouge, making it Louisiana's largest city for the next seven years. Although the effects
of the storm would continue to be felt for years, by the end of just four days, the American Red Cross
announced that it was already their largest relief effort ever.
August 30, 2006
Today in 2006, the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, which had begun life as the Heidelberg Hotel in 1927
held its Grand Opening today after a $65 million renovation. the LSU Tiger Marching Band played in Lafayette
Street, and a black-tie gala benefitting the Foundation for Historic Louisiana featured a 1920s theme. In the late
1920’s the Heidelberg Hotel was a favorite dwelling of Louisiana Governor Huey Long, who had a seventh-floor
suite. He lived there exclusively for over a year as he waited for a new Governor’s Mansion to be built after he’d
ordered state convicts to tear down the old one.
August 31, 1959
On this first day of school today in 1959, eight new elementary and secondary schools in the city opened their
doors for the first time. Robert E. Lee High Junior and Senior High, Capitol High, Bakerfield Elementary, Villa del
Rey Elementary, Progress Elementary, Capitol Avenue Elementary and Westdale Elementary schools were
ready to absorb the parish’s burgeoning school population which had grown by eight thousand over the
previous year. In a period of unprecedented growth, Broadmoor Junior and Senior High, Scotlandville High,
Glen Oaks High, and South Greenville Elementary schools were under construction at the same time and would
open in 1960.