The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 99: Looking Back at Baton Rouge, Part 2

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September 7, 2020-

Another summer nearing its end (Summer, for me, ends on the day after Labor Day, the equinox notwithstanding); another languid Labor Day with extreme heat dissipating-at least for a week.

My “free day”, last Friday, allowed time to check out a few areas of Baton Rouge. These included two restaurants, offering two distinct styles of Louisiana cooking. Pastime Restaurant, under the Interstate 10 overpass, south of downtown, offers Po’ Boy sandwiches, usually made with a seafood filling and served on New Orleans-style French bread. In honour of BR’s riparian richness, mine had catfish.

Pastime Restaurant

From there, the road led to Magnolia Mound Plantation, which I described in the last post. Having had time to look at and learn about the artifacts of Creole plantation agriculture and enslavement, I headed to Louisiana’s ornate, well-decorated State Capitol and its beautiful surrounding garden park.

A lake has been formed, north of the building, by diverting some water from the Mississippi River.

Capitol Lake, Baton Rouge
Indian Mound, Capitol Park, Baton Rouge. This mound was built by people of the Coles Creek culture, around 1000 A.D. It was used by the chiefs of that period as a speaking platform and to conduct sacred ceremonies.
Louisiana State Capitol Building, from the southeast
Tiger Lily, Capitol Park
Newly-planted palmetto trees, Capitol Park
Artillery Mount, Indian Mound. As this was the highest point overlooking the Mississippi River, in the Capitol District, it was used by the U.S. Army, during the War of 1812 and by both sides during the Civil War, as the Union Army ousted the Confederates from Baton Rouge, early in the conflict.
George Rogers Clark would have taken exception to this claim, as the forces he led defeated the British at Vincennes and at Kaskaskia, both outside the original Thirteen Colonies. Nonetheless, it is true that a battle was fought here, in 1779-but by the Spanish against the British. American privateers helped in the effort, resulting in Spanish control of the Mississippi River Delta and of all Florida, of which Baton Rouge was then a part.
Exterior View of Baton Rouge Arsenal
Horizontal view of Baton Rouge Arsenal. This facility was established in 1826, to help guard the mouth o fthe Mississippi River. It fell briefly into Confederate hands in 1861, but was recaptured by Union forces, the following year.
Lawgivers, both ancient and more contemporary, have adorned the present Louisiana State Capitol’s exterior, since it was built in 1931.
Depictoion of ancient Greek lawgivers
Builders and judges are depicted in the bas relief. The three watchwords: Union, Justice and Confidence are enscribed here as guiding goals for the State.
Louisiana is nicknamed “The Pelican State”. Three fat pelicans are perched atop the three facia columns above.
There has never been a Louisiana politician, before or since, quite like Huey Pierce Long. A fiery and effective populist, “The Kingfish” served as Governor from 1928-32 and as U.S. Senator from 1932-35, when he was assassinated. Senator Long was a driving force behind many of the social welfare programs which became part of the New Deal, in its second stage. He was an authoritarian and clever leader, yet saw the public weal as his bounden duty.

Elegant Clarkia mix with True Lavender, in this flower bed, on the south side of Capitol Park.

Full view of State Capitol, from the south.
“The Ole War Skule” refers to a corps of cadets at Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy, established in 1853, at Pineville, in central Louisiana. In 1869, it was moved to Baton Rouge and in 1877, the school merged with Louisiana State University. in 1955, a group of retired military men, who had studied on a prior campus of LSU, formed this curiously-named organization, to continue the rich military traditions of the University.
The Pentagon Barracks were used to house American forces in Baton Rouge, with their completion in 1825. The barracks occupy the site of an old British fort, named New Richmond, which had also been used by the Spanish, prior to 1816.
Archway, connecting the east and west sides of Pentagon Barracks.
The pleasant Courtyard of Pentagon Barracks was a mini-parade ground and resting spot for the troops.
This is the story of Pentagon Barracks, in a nutshell.
Here is a view of the columns and beamed outside ceiling of Pentagon Barracks.
Peilcan inlays are common, throughout the Capitol’s exterior and its grounds.
Walking back to my borrowed vehicle, I enjoyed this view of the Governor’s Mansion.

So, there is a lengthy, but concise introduction to the three segments of the Louisiana Capitol District: The east, with Indian Mound and the Old Arsenal; the center, with the Capitol itself and the statue of Huey P. Long; the west, with Pentagon Barracks and the Capitol Museum (not shown here).

My day ended with a cold brew coffee, at this engaging establishment, on the east side of Baton Rouge:

City Roots is part of a dining and shopping area, called Electric Depot.

Finally, it was dinner time, and Cajun was on the menu. There is no finer place for jambalaya, gumbo and crawfish pie than this south side spot:

As I enjoyed a goodly part of my meal, the engaging strains of zydeco filled the room. Another bonus-There was enough left for Saturdays’ lunch!

This mural, at Electric Depot, captures the energy of an emergent new Louisiana.