The Old Capitol Building
Louisiana's Building of Distinction

Baton Rouge, LA.

February 2nd, 2000

Ok, all you political hacks, what is the common denominator between "George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, and Huey P Long"? Great, you're right! All were state governors. Lets go one further, which one is the oldest in history. Right again. good old Huey P. Long of Louisiana. Ah, but here I go again, getting ahead of myself. We were batting around in Baton Rouge looking for that perfect story when we came across the "Old Capitol Building". High on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, a Gothic architectural treasure, as well as a historic showplace. What a site, from the outside it looks like the best of medieval castles. All it needed was a moat and a drawbridge and it could have been transported directly from Europe. In the hour or so that we spent there, I came away with three things permanently fixed in my mind. The Gothic magnificence of the external structure, the fantastic central standing staircase which leads to the second floor, and the legacy of Huey P. Long. The nearly 150 year old statehouse has withstood war, fire, scandal, bitter debate, abandonment and an occasional fist fight. Under the direction of Secretary of State W. Fox McKeithen, the building opened as the Center for Political and Governmental History in 1994. The Center is promoted as a major attraction for tourism and is the State's official repository of film and video archives. Back in 1830, under the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Louisiana was purchased from France as part of the Louisiana territory. As civil war loomed, the State of Louisiana was actually a free country unto itself for about 4 weeks, at which time Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America and joined the Civil War. Shortly thereafter, the Union took the State and the Capitol Building became a union possession. Subsequently the building accidentally burned. The State Government moved to Shreveport and the old building was abandoned. By 1882, the government was back in Baton Rouge. The old Capitol Building was renovated and the Cathedral dome and black and white marble floors were added. The building would remain as the seat of Louisiana government until 1928. It was at this time that Huey P. Long, one of Louisiana's most colorful governors was in power. He would initiate the building of the new Capitol Building which would be modeled after the Empire State Building in New York, and would become the tallest Capitol Building in any state. The controversy over the building would finally cost him his governorship, but he would retain much of his power as a U. S. Senator. On the night of September 8, 1935, Huey P. Long, exercising his authority as de facto chief executive of Louisiana, attended a session of the State House of Representatives. At 9:21 p.m. he left the office of Governor O.K. Allen, at which time he was confronted by Dr. Carl Auston Weiss, a well-respected 29 year old Baton Rouge physician who was clutching a .32 caliber Belgian automatic pistol. Dr Weiss allegedly fired one shot into Senator Long's abdomen. Bodyguard Murphy Roden seized Dr. Weiss and after a brief struggle drew his own gun and fired ten times. As the presumed assassin slumped to the floor, four other bodyguards emptied their weapons into him. Senator Long was rushed to Our lady of the Lake Hospital where he died on September 10th. Almost from the very moment that Dr. Carl Austin Weiss was killed by Huey Long's bodyguards in the State Capitol, speculation has existed that Weiss may not have been responsible for Long's death. Revisionist investigators and historians have emphasized apparent inconsistencies and conflicting reports by witnesses in their examination of the tragic events of September 8, 1935. It has frequently been noted that Dr. Weiss was a happily married family man with a promising career and that his actions on the day of his death gave no indication of impending doom. No specific motive has ever been established for the doctor's actions. The results of the investigation were corroborated by a State Police probe in 1992 which declared that "all ... evidence was supportive of the official version of the shooting"

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