April 16, 1825
In 1824, President James Monroe invited Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis of Lafayette to tour the United
States, partly to instill the "spirit of 1776" in the next generation of Americans and partly to celebrate the
nation's 50th anniversary. During his trip, he visited all twenty-four American states. On this day in 1825, he
arrived in Baton Rouge by steamboat and was feted at a reception at the Tessier Building, which still stands
in downtown. He led a parade up Second Street, which was renamed in his honor and reviewed troops at the
newly-completed Pentagon Barracks. He then returned to the steamboat and resumed his journey.
April 17, 1992
This month in 1992, The Swine Palace Theater Company at the LSU Department of Theatre staged its first
production, All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. The company was founded to provide a platform for
socially conscious productions under the direction of Barry Kyle, who had come to Baton Rouge after twenty
years as a leading director for the Royal Shakespeare Company in London. It was Kyle who came up with the
theater company's name, Swine Palace, taken from his idea to turn an old livestock pavilion on the south side
of campus into a theater. The pavilion was renovated and became the Reilly Theatre in 2000.
April 18, 1979
Today in 1979, President Jimmy Carter nominated Baton Rouge native and St. Francisville resident Robert
H. Barrow to be the 27th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Barrow would serve four years
before retiring to St. Francisviille in 1983. Because it offered free tuition and low boarding costs, Barrow
attended LSU from 1939 to 1942, working as a waiter and a janitor and served in the university's Corps of
Cadets. In 1943, he enlisted and was sent to fight the Japanese from behind enemy lines in China. General
Barrow died on October 30, 2008 at the age of 86.
April 19, 1955
WAFB, Channel 9 went on the air today in 1955. In its first five years, the station broadcasted on UHF
Channel 28, before moving to VHF channel 9 in 1960. It launched as a television counterpart to local radio
stations WAFB and WAFB-FM, which both signed on in 1948 and were affiliated with the MBS network. The
Royal Street Corporation which owned Channel 6 in New Orleans, purchased the station in 1956, and later
sold it to the locally based Guaranty Corporation. A long-time staple of the station was "Buckskin and
Friends," an hour-long show starring Bill Black that aired on Saturday mornings from 1955 until September
April 20, 1877
“The Fraud of the Century” paid off for Louisiana politicians today in 1877 as President Rutherford B. Hayes
removed the last federal troops from the state. The deal to send the troops home had been sealed the
previous November when Democrat Samuel J. Tilden carried Louisiana in the Presidential election of 1876,
but the Democratic members of the Electoral College switched their votes to the Republican Hayes in
exchange for an agreement to remove the troops. The removal of the troops was officially touted to be the
official end of Reconstruction in Louisiana, but its effects would remain for decades to come.
April 21, 1931
The first Louisiana State Interscholastic Boxing Tournament held at LSU today in 1931. Between 1931 and
1958, high school boxing was the second most popular high school sport in the state after football. Requiring
little equipment, so it was a cost-effective sport for cash-strapped schools. It wasn’t unusual to see three
thousand fans show up for a Friday night interscholastic bout. The sport would reach its peak in 1952 when
250 boxers competed in the state tournament. But the end of was near. The last tournament was held in
1958 when only 11 schools in the state still fielded teams.
April 22, 1936
Baton Rouge's last electric streetcar line closed this day in 1936. The streetcar system had dated back to
1892, when the system ran with six cars and 26 mules ran along Third Street, Government and Main Street.
The route was replaced with cars powered by electricity in 1893, and by 1924, the electric system had
expanded to provide service to the north from downtown to the Standard Oil Refinery near 22nd Street and
Mohican, and along East Boulevard to South Baton Rouge. These spurs to the south and north would shut
down in 1932 and 1934, respectively, and the last cars on the downtown route ran in 1936.
April 23, 2005
On April 23, 2005, voters in Central elected to incorporate as a city. The campaign had been a bitter one,
dividing neighbors and friends, and sponsoring at least one lawsuit to block the election. The new city had
about 25,000 residents and 18,000 registered voters, of whom 8,190 cast votes in the election. 5126 voted
for incorporation; 3064 against. Central is bounded on the west and south by the Comite River, on the east
by the parish line and on the north by Highway 64. Former Central High School principal Shelton "Mac" Watts
became the temporary mayor and served until elections for the office were held on April 1, 2006.
April 24, 1953
The Bellemont Motor Hotel on Airline Highway, already the largest motor hotel in Louisiana and one of the
largest in the United States, opened a new wing in April, 1953. Owner and Manager A. C. Lewis said that the
new addition would include a French Provincial suite designated as the Governor's Suite, and a suite
decorated in a modern motif called the Petroleum Suite. A new meeting facility called The Great Hall would be
opened in 1984. The hotel closed its doors in the early 2000's and served briefly as a staging area for
Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. It was demolished in 2012.
April 25, 1979
In the early 1970’s, the relationships among the city-parish, the not-for-profit Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to animals and the public had deteriorated due to a number of reasons, a lack of transparency by the
SPCA being not the least among them. In 1975, the city-parish established the Animal Control board, a quasi-
public institution, to take over the work of the SPCA, and the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society (CAAWS)
was established in April, 1979, to provide not-for-profit support for the well-being of animals in the Baton
Rouge community by providing, facilitating, and promoting the humane treatment and at all times supporting
the practice of spay/neuter.
April 26, 1970
Around 9:30 on the evening of Sunday, April 26, 1970, somewhere between ten and thirty sticks of dynamite
wee placed in the Senate Chamber of the State Capitol Building. In the ensuing explosion, no one was hurt,
but the explosive destroyed the podium and other furniture, the marble-paved floor and several columns. It
was never discovered who placed the bomb. The repair would cost over $400,000. Today, visitors to the
chamber can see a rather macabre reminder of the explosion—a pencil that had been sitting on a desk at
the time of the explosion was hurled into the ceiling of the chamber, where it stuck. It’s still there.
April 27, 1993
This week in 1993, Baton Rouge businessman and grocer Brazil Calandro was killed at the age of 82 in a
tragic automobile accident near Woodville, Mississippi. In 1941, Calandro, a native of Tickfaw, and his wife
Vennera had opened the Plee-Zing Food Store on Government Street that would become Calandro’s.
Several generations of the Calandro family would take an active role at the business. “I think what really sets
Calandro’s apart is that we’ve remained a friendly, family-run local operation that loves and promotes our
Baton Rouge and Louisiana roots,” said second generation member, Blaise Calandro proudly.“ A second
Calandro's would open in 2000 on Perkins Road.
April 28, 1956
Today in 1956, a private airplane crashed, exploded and burned near Lansing, Michigan, taking the life of
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Jesse L. Webb, Jr. (pictured with his children), and two other men who were
on their way to a conference at Michigan State University. Webb was the youngest person ever to be elected
mayor-president, and during his administration, he worked to ease the strain of school bus desegregation in
the parish. In the aftermath of the tragedy, his widow, Mary Jones Webb was sworn in as Baton Rouge's
mayor-president was sworn in as mayor-president to complete the seven-and-a-half months of his term. She
was the first woman ever to serve in the office.
April 29, 2007
Today in 2007, the massive Union Tank Car Repair dome on Airline Highway was torn down. The steel,
geodesic dome, designed by Buckminster Fuller, was completed in 1958. With a diameter of 384 feet, it was
the largest free-span structure in the world at the time and was considered a marvel among engineers and
architects. The dome was built to allow the company to repair dozens of tank cars at a time rather than one
or two. As the years passed, the dome and rail yard fell into disuse and was torn down one year before it
would become eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
April 30, 1926
It would take LSU the better part of a decade to move its campus from downtown at the current site of the
State Capitol to its present location in South Baton Rouge, but today in 1926, enough of the job had been
done to dedicate the new campus on the 114th anniversary of Louisiana statehood. Several sites had been
considered, but eventually the Gartness Plantation owned by C. P. Williams of Mississippi, was selected. On
June 4, 1918, the legislature passed Act 6 which provided the funding for the purchase, and in 1920, the
Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm was hired to create the overall plan for the new campus.