November 1, 1869
Today in 1869, the Louisiana State Seminary and Military Academy held its first classes in Baton Rouge after
fire destroyed the school's Pineville campus in October. LSU’s move to Baton Rouge was supposed to be
temporary, but the state had little money in the years after the Civil War and funding was elusive. LSU shared
space on South Boulevard with the Louisiana School for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, and during that time,
President David French Boyd enlisted the aid of the school’s first president, William T. Sherman, to petition the
federal government to secure the buildings and grounds of the U.S. garrison on Third Street, which was being
November 2, 1994
This week in 1994, “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard Country Chart
his week. The song was written by Dennis Linde and originally recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys on their 1978
album, Room Service. It was later covered by New Grass Revival on their 1989 album, Friday Night in America.
Starting in Les Miles' first year as coach at LSU, the song became part of the pageantry of football at Tiger
Stadium. In 2015, Brooks told The Today Show that that the song was his favorite to perform for a live
audiences. "There's something that happens with the crowd."
November 3, 1964
Today in 1964, W. W. "Woody" Dumas was elected to the first of three terms as Mayor-President of East Baton
Rouge Parish. Woodrow Wilson was born in Opelousas and moved to Baton Rouge with his family at the age
of eight. After service during World War II, he moved to Baker to play semi-professional baseball. He was
elected to three terms on the Metro Council starting in 1952. Dumas unseated incumbent Jack Christian in
1964, and would later win re-election contests against Crayton Green. After being succeeded by Pat Screen in
1980, he attempted a comeback in 1992, but lost to Tom Ed McHugh.
November 4, 1923
The new Our Lady of the Lake Sanitarium opened today in 1923. When the twentieth century began, Baton
Rouge was growing fast, and the Catholic bishop implored the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, who were
operating a hospital in Monroe to open in Baton Rouge. When Mother deBethany Crowley came to town to
scout locations for the new hospital, she was shown a number of choice sites by city leaders. She spurned
them all and asked the driver to stop when saw an abandoned garbage dump on Capitol Lake between
Standard Oil to the north and LSU and downtown to the south. “This is where we will build.”
November 5, 1887
This week in 1887, the common council of Baton Rouge adopted an ordnance contracting for the construction,
building, maintenance and operation of the city's water system and to supply water to the city and the city's
residents. Ownership of the company changed in 1910, and the enterprise became the Baton Rouge Water
Company. Over the next few years, the council would contract with E. Smedley and John H. Wood of Dubuque,
Iowa to build a water works company. One of their first tasks was to build the standpipe that still stands on
Lafayette Street that was completed in 1889. Its original capacity was 132,500 gallons.
November 6, 1984
Pat Screen elected to second term as Mayor President in 1984. Screen was born in New Orleans and had first
won the hearts of Baton Rougeans as an LSU football star.He would be sworn in on New Years Day, 1985,
nineteen years to the day after he took over from an injured Nelson Stokely and led LSU to an 14-7 upset of
2nd ranked and heavily favored Arkansas in the 1966 Cotton Bowl. He was elected Mayor-President in in
1980, defeating three-term incumbent Woody Dumas. He didn’t seek a third term in 1988, when he was
succeeded by Tom Ed McHugh. Screen died in 1994, at the age of 51.
November 7, 1876
Zachary Taylor was elected President of the United States today in 1848. Taylor had been born in
Barboursville, Virginia, in 184, and received his education through tutors and practical experience. In received
an officer’s commission in the army in 1808 and was sent to Louisiana for the first time. He throughout the
remainder of his life, he would consider Baton Rouge a permanent home. While he was away with the army,
Mrs. Taylor would help to establish the Episcopal chapel, which later became St. James Church. In 1848, he
would become the first person to be elected with President without ever holding another political office.
November 8, 1961
A ceremony to proclaim the newly-formed Diocese of Baton Rouge was in the city today in 1961. The diocese
had been created by bull of erection "Peramplum Novae Aureliae,” issued by Pope John XXIII in July of that
year, and on this date in November, Most Rev. Robert Emmet Tracy was ordained as the first bishop of the
diocese and the diocese was proclaimed at the church which would heretofore be known as St. Joseph
Cathedral. St. Joseph is Baton Rouge’s oldest church, built on land donated by Don Antonio de Gras in the
1700’s and William S. Pike in the 1800’s.
November 9, 1916
It was only an intramural game, but Southern University played its first football game this week in 1916. They
weren’t yet the Jaguars, but they defeated the black Baton Rouge High School, 6-0. In the early days of
football at Southern, games would be played either in City Park, at Stanocola Park in Scotlandville or on a
practice field on campus until University Stadium opened in 1928. The WPA would complete the first
permanent seats at University Stadium in 1940 and it would be enlarged in 1952, but by the 1970’s, Southern
had outgrown University Stadium. An enlarged and renovated stadium was opened in 1952 as A. W. Mumford
Stadium. (Pictured, Ace Mumford)
November 10, 1960
Today in 1960, the Bon Marche Shopping Center on Florida Boulevard at Lobdell held its Grand Opening.
The center was open-air and wouldn’t become a mall for another few years, but in 1960’s, shoppers gawked at
the center which was larger than the downtown shopping area around Third Street. Montgomery Ward,
Steinberg's Sporting Goods and a Top Value Stamps redemption center were among the first to open. D. H.
Holmes and Gus Mayer would open within the month. In December, 1967, the mall announced a major
expansion that would enclose the mall and add a number of new stores, including a Maison-Blanche
November 11, 1932
Today in 1932, Southern University and Grambling State played each other for the first time in football. The
Jaguars skunked the Tigers, 20-0 in a game played in Monroe. Over the years, the Jaguars and Tigers have
had the most Southwestern Athletic Conference and titles and black national titles. In 1974, the teams played
the first Bayou Classic at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, inaugurating what would become one of the most
storied traditions in college football. In 2014, a Bayou Classic trophy that had been used for more than twenty-
five years was retired and presented to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
November 12, 2012
Gus Piazza, owner of Phil’s Oyster Bar, passed away this week in 2007. In 1945, Phil Tuminello and his family
opened a seafood market in front of their house on Government Street and expanded it into a full-service
restaurant in 1950. In 1971, Phil sold his restaurant to a couple of local men who hired Gus Piazza as the
manager and gave him a small stake in the business. Gus bought out the owners in 1975, and brought in his
parents and his sister to run Phil’s Oyster Bar until it moved to Concord Avenue in 2003. Gus’ declining health
forced him to close in 2007.
November 13, 2004
Tabby's Blues Box and Heritage Hall closed its doors tonight in 2004. Ernest Joseph "Tabby" Thomas was
born and grew up in Baton Rouge. Winning a radio talent contest while serving in the U.S. Air Force in 1950’s,
led to a few unsuccessful recordings in California. He returned to Baton Rouge, recorded for small local labels,
and eventually released the modestly successful "Hoodo Party" in 1961. He became one of the best-known
blues musicians in Baton Rouge, and in 1978, he opened a run-down building on North Boulevard as Tabby's
Blues Box and Heritage Hall. The club moved to new quarters in 2000, before closing for good in 2004.
November 14, 1978
Tonight in 1978, Richard Pryor made his first Baton Rouge appearance in a concert at a packed Riverside
Centroplex Arena. Pryor was at the top of the show business food chain in 1978. He had crossed over into the
mainstream in 1976 in the film Silver Streak, and he was in the process of filming The Wiz, when he appeared
in Baton Rouge. Patti Labelle was also part of the show, then just beginning her career as a solo artist after
splitting up with Labelle in 1976. Pryor would return to Baton Rouge for an extended stay in 1982 while filming
The Toy with Jackie Gleason.
November 15, 1909
Today in 1909, the new Standard Oil Refinery in Baton Rouge began processing gasoline just seven months
after construction started on the massive project. Within ten years, more than two thousand people would be
working at the refinery, and it would be processing over 40,000 barrels of oil each day. Standard Oil, now
ExxonMobil, would revolutionize life in Baton Rouge as few other things ever would. The relationship between
the people who lived in North Baton Rouge who worked at the refinery and their neighbors to the south would
change forever, and all Louisianans would slowly begin to see themselves as residents of a petroleum-
producing, rather than an agricultural state.