Magnolia Mound Plantation
Located in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, BREC’s Magnolia Mound Plantation is a rare survivor of the vernacular architecture influenced by early settlers from France and the West Indies. This venerable landmark is unique in southern Louisiana not simply because of its age, quality of restoration, or outstanding collections, but because it is still a vital part of the community. Through educational programs, workshops, lectures, festivals, and other special events, Magnolia Mound’s mission is to illustrate and interpret the lifestyle of the French Creoles who formed the fascinating culture which still influences and pervades life in southern Louisiana. The plantation house, now surrounded by an urban setting, was once the center of a 900-acre operation with frontage on the Mississippi River. The main house was built c. 1791 as a small settler’s house and as prosperity came to the lower Mississippi Valley, the house was enlarged and renovated in 1802-05, to become the elegant seat of a major landowner. Spanning the colonial era and early statehood, Magnolia Mound’s collection of furnishings and decorative arts include one of the foremost public groups of Louisiana- made objects, in carefully restored and documented settings. The object collection includes locally made furniture from Louisiana’s colonial period, as well as French pieces that illustrate the ties of the sophisticated planter with his family in France. Inventory records and accounts from the period indicate that prosperous local planters purchased fashionable Federal-style objects from the eastern seaboard. Decorative art items also include English and French ceramics, crystal and furniture obtained through the major port of New Orleans and locally made textiles. The collection includes objects that help to convey the distinctive taste of this large Catholic family in south Louisiana.
Louisiana Old State Capitol
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, a Gothic architectural treasure, stands high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The 150-year-old statehouse has withstood war, fire, scandal, bitter debate, abandonment and an occasional fistfight. Today, the building stands as a testament to bold, inspired leadership and active citizenship. In 1990, the Louisiana Legislature placed the former statehouse under the jurisdiction of the secretary of state and appropriated funds for a major restoration project. The building re-opened as the Center for Political and Governmental History in 1994. Now referred to as the Museum of Political History, the Old State Capitol has received awards for its architecture, exhibits and preservation.
In 1847, Baton Rouge lured Louisiana’s capital away from the city of New Orleans with the donation of a plot of land high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi. Architect James Harrison Dakin (1806-1852), a New York native with a thriving practice in New Orleans, was retained to design the new capitol building. Dakin described the building as “Castellated Gothic” because of the cast-iron decoration of its crenellated battlements and turrets. The building’s construction started in 1847 and ended in 1852, the same year as Dakin’s death. The statehouse featured heavy masonry walls covered with lime mortar plaster scored to resemble stone blocks. The statehouse served as the seat of Louisiana government until 1862 when Union troops captured Baton Rouge. Fleeing Union troops, Louisiana legislators abandoned the building in which they had voted to secede from the Union in 1861. The building was used as a Union prison and garrison until December 28, 1862 when the interior of the building was destroyed due to an accidental fire started by Union soldiers. The ruined interior was completely reconstructed in 1882 by architect and engineer William A. Freret who installed the signature grand staircase. Since older legislators remembered the darkness from the 1850 period, Freret added the magnificent stained glass “lantern,” or dome, in an effort to emit more light. A single ornate central pier was included to support the dome, the whole resembling a grand umbrella of painted glass. On March 1, 1882, Governor McEnery and other state officials arrived in Baton Rouge to officially take possession of the newly restored statehouse and the new life of the capitol began. The Capitol Advocate, March 3, 1882, reported: “For Baton Rouge, the restoration is the auspicious beginning of a new era. The new movement of prosperity felt here during the past year was impelled by the expectation of this event. Now, we will have the solid reality. Old citizens will tell you how the city sprung into new activity, when the Capitol was first established here in 1848.” In 1932, construction of the new State Capitol was completed and the Legislature officially transferred the seat of Louisiana government to the new building. The abandoned statehouse became the headquarters of the Works Progress Administration in 1936. In 1991, after decades of neglect, a group of dedicated, concerned citizens and politicians saved the Old State Capitol from demolition and began a massive reconstruction to restore the historic building.
Louisiana State Capitol
What began as the dream of one man – Huey P. Long – became a symbol of the pride, the history and the spirit of Louisiana’s people. To construct a State Capitol Building during the 1930s, the time of the Great Depression, was an idea only a powerful politician could have made a reality. As governor, Huey Long worked long and hard to convince the public and the legislature that a new State Capitol would eventually save the state money because of its efficient and modern structure. A special session of the legislature was called to vote on the amendment that would provide the funding for construction. The first vote fell four votes short of the two-thirds majority that was needed. The Speaker of the House ordered a rollcall vote and, while the list of names was read, Governor Long, standing in the back of the chamber, had time to encourage a few legislators to vote in favor of his building. The vote passed and the funding was approved. In 1935, the Louisiana State Capitol Building was the site of Huey P. Long’s assassination. Senator Long was buried on the grounds and his statue faces the Capitol.
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Red Stick Farmers Market
From the beginning BREADA emphasized building a sense of community among farmers and consumers. The value of Louisiana’s rich culture steeped in food and farming motivated support from urban neighbors to eat locally and in season.
The importance of connecting the urban customer with the local farmer led to the formation of the Red Stick Farmers Market in November of 1996. The Farmers Market created a link between locally owned family farms and food businesses in the Baton Rouge area. From the very first Market day, Red Stick Farmers Market became a favorite Saturday morning tradition where shoppers could build relationships with food producers.
The success of the Red Stick Farmers Market, a producer-only market, creates a direct sales marketplace and provides a sustainable livelihood for small Louisiana agribusinesses. In return Red Stick Farmers contribute to the cultural and economic well being of surrounding rural areas.
With a growing demand for local foods, BREADA added two new locations and operates Mid Week Markets on both Tuesday and Thursdays in outlying areas of Baton Rouge. With additional access to local foods, farmers put a face on the food that they grow, earn a fair return for their produce and receive feedback from consumers. The markets are cause to celebrate local Louisiana food traditions.
Special thanks to VisitBatonRouge.com