Once you know the language of the symbols these Depression-era artists used, Louisiana’s Capitol reveals a grand intent. It celebrates hard work and spiritual values. In this program we literally read the ‘writing on the walls.’
Completed in 1932 at a cost of five million dollars, the state capitol was a dream come true for then-U.S. Senator Huey Long. The most colorful political figure of the 1930s, Long ran Louisiana as a notorious populist and rivaled the power and popularity of President Franklin Roosevelt.
Renovations begun last year will cost more than the capitol did to build. Cracks in the front steps, water damage and decades of neglect are detailed in the program. Speaker of the House Hunt Downer complains that the original furniture, hand made to match the interior details and colors, is long gone.
Yet we see, in This Old State House, some pieces being returned and how restorers are reclaiming the original intent of the design one room at a time.
A larger panel shows a dug-out covered with elephant iron with infantry-men advancing to "No-Man's Land." The "zero hour" is indicated by an officer looking at his wrist watch, and the suggested tramp of men in the winding trenches. A scolding sergeant... urging his men forward in the eloquent and picturesque language of the trenches, is portrayed.
Back of these are several large camoflauged cannons. Artillery men, telephone men, and observers, each attending to their separate tasks, add realism to the picture. In the middle distance a tank is seen and in the far distance the Leviathan, with a convoy of destroyers. John A. Lejeune, commander of the marines, that Louisiana man, whose leadership counted during the last war, occupies a prominent place in this picture.