Heart of Louisiana: The Old Governor's Mansion

EAST BATON ROUGE, La. - Huey Long built a lot of things during his reign as Louisiana governor.  And one of his more impressive buildings is the home he built for himself and some of the governors that followed him.  When you see the old Governor's Mansion, it's clear that Huey had his eye on the White House.  FOX 8's Dave Mcnamara takes us to East Baton Rouge Parish and an impressive Louisiana home in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.

The similarities between this Louisiana mansion and another famous American home are no accident.  It's   called Louisiana's little White House.  It was built in the state's capital city, it has a rose garden and a large east room.  There's even an oval office with a view of the capitol.  And the dining room wallpaper was copied by Jackie Kennedy for the diplomatic reception room at the White House.  The Louisiana White House - the old Governor's Mansion - was built in 1929 by Huey Long.

"Rumor has it he wanted to know where the light switches were when he got to Washington, and the lay of the land, so it's been said that he slapped a $20 bill on the architect's desk and said build me something that looks like that," said Carolyn Bennett with the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

"Everything in this room is original except for the drapes," said Ory Poret, a volunteer and tour guide.

At age 93, Poret knows a lot about some of the governors who lived here. He worked for them as head of the State Land Office.

"When I first started working for the state, Jimmy Davis was governor," Poret said. "Then Earl Long became governor after that. Then Bob Kennan in 1952. Then after Kennen, it was Earl Long again and then Jimmie Davis from '60 to '64."

The master bedroom is filled with furniture from Huey Long.  And when brother Earl was governor, his wife set up her own private bedroom down the hall.

"When Earl was governor the last time, he started having - some would call it emotional problems," Poret said.

Poret's favorite is the Jimmy Davis room, complete with the former governor's saddle, perhaps the one he used when he rode his horse, Sunshine, into the governor's office.

"I assume people thought it was a little unusual, but a governor can do a lot of things," Poret said.

Although the Governor's Mansion was built in a grand scale, it had a very short lifespan. It was only used as a home for Louisiana governors for 34 years.

In 1963, Jimmy Davis decided to build a new air-conditioned mansion near the State Capitol.  The foundation for historic Louisiana now maintains a museum in the old mansion, with original furnishings from the governors and their families, and some of the unique treasures of our state's political past.

The mansion is open for guided tours Tuesday through Friday. Click here for more information.