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June 30, 2009

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emilie

Fabulous post!! Thanks for documenting this sad waste of LSU space. The Fieldhouse is worth preserving -- don't know why LSU isn't interested in taking care of its legacy, but they did paint over the WPA murals so I shouldn't be surprised.

jason

wow! so beautiful, like the catacombs or something.

vl100butch

a wonderful piece of reporting, but i have to disagree with your understanding of why this building is important....

LSU in the late 20's early 30's was a place where a lot of incredible things were happening for one simple reason, Huey Long fell in love with the place and wanted the state to have a first class university for several reasons, not the least of was to have something that the common man and woman could be proud of and aspire to attend....so he poured money into the physical plant and wanted it to be bigger and better than anyplace else...

What happened then was a precursor to the impact of the GI Bill on higher education after WWII....a lot of young men and women got a college education....

in those days ROTC was compulsory (as it was at all land grant colleges across the nation), so you also had a large number of reserve officers commissioned, which came in real handy around 1940-41....considering that LSU provided more officers to the Army during WWII than West Point (fact)....

and the impact that those people had on the country as a whole from politics (Russell Long and Hubert Humphrey for example), to NASA and the space program and any number of other places....even literature, as Robert Penn Warren was one of the young lions of the faculty (and I still think that "All the King's Men" is a Greek tragedy with live oaks rather than a realistic commentary on Huey....)

so, my dear friend....we need to talk about this over yuengling...

Colleen Kane

Thanks all. & Butch, disagree away, but while you do provide a lot of extra background info, it doesn't really contradict what I wrote in the post, which was extrapolated from information on SaveHPL.org.

Apollo

Awesome photos, as usual. Assuming that the police escort was required for you to get access to the Fieldhouse, what did you have to do to get them to okay it?

Danielle

Thank you for this post. I'm from Baton Rouge, but did not go to LSU, so I had no idea about this structure. Seems a beauty that has gone to waste, and I have to say that makes me a bit sad. I never thought anything in such decay existing on a campus as beautiful as LSU's. Thank you for capturing it.

Kaela

So beautiful. Well, minus the satanic graffiti. I didn't know this existed either.

vl100butch

i should have gone into a bit more detail in my comment....if you were talking about the stadium dorms and that impact on LSU sports, i would have fully agreed with you...after all, that's how Huey got the WPA money to expand the stadium...build dorms for ROTC cadets (and put additional seating above them)...

hopefully, it's when you do the stadium dorms, you also go into Tiger Stadium without anyone in it, then take a good look at the lower east and west sides (sounds like i'm talking about manhattan, huh...) you will see where the original stadium ended and the seating added with the construction of the dorms begins.....

gxtgrs

As an LSU alumi, I was certified as a lifeguard at the Huey Long Pool in 1990 and later guarded and taught lessons there. It was still beautiful then. Yes, there was obvious signs of neglect (crumbling walls, graffiti, etc.), but regardless it was an amazing structure. It could have easily been turned around at that point if complete neglect would not have set in as recent as 1999.

Meow

In the picture above the Sunkist bottle, there is a piece of graffitti on the left. The almost same exact piece is on the scaffolding by Barcade in Williamsburg.

Tracie Way

LSU should be ashamed to let this happen!

Jules

This was a great post with amazing pics.

Jonathon

I remember reading a few posts back that you wanted to get into the Field House, so congrats on getting in. It looks like such an interesting place to explore, and I'd love to see it. But odds are by the time I would get there they would have started demo on it or something

Michael

In the 80s I both swam and played racquetball there. The pool was still very nice, the courts were old but you never had to wait for one.

Hope they restore the structure--I've made a small contribution, which, by the way, is tax deductible.

Sarah

I am a recent graduate of LSU's Kinesiology program which is housed in the HPL fieldhouse. The story goes that LSU was supposed to be given the funds necessary to restore the building. Then Katrina hit and the building fell to the bottom of the list. HPL now has to wait until the projects listed before it are completed again. Which in Louisiana, we know will take forever. I had a class in the HPL basement a couple semesters ago and the maintenance people were constantly fighting a rat problem. I was terrified one was going to crawl over my foot during class.

Ron

Lots of us lifeguards gained our certification at the old fieldhouse. I got mine in the late 80's and even then there were sections of the building that were closed off due to disrepair. I loved the pool though. As a student, I'd go as often as possible.

I remember being fascinated with the old structure and the odd architecture of the place. It's so unlike any of other campus buildings, it would be a terrible shame to let it be destroyed.

Thank you very much for posting these pictures.

Renee' Bird

In the late 80's we students could swim there and I couldn't believe such a gorgeous place was a hidden treasure. It was like our little secret. ;-)

In the 90's it was open to the public & parents could bring the little ones for a swim (which, as you know, is a BLESSING during that stifling Louisiana summer heat). I can't believe they would let such striking architecture go to ruin.

:-(

AGB

I was on the LSU faculty for 7 years. I swam in that pool everyday. It was my favorite place at LSU. It was beautiful. I remember the steam floating out of the building on cold days. What a waste. How like Louisiana.

Susan Kirby-Smith

I loved this post, so many pictures. I have been wanting to see this too since I first started looking at a book about the campus before I moved here. What beautiful old architecture. How sad that we can't view it freely.

Leslie

all I could think was, my gawd- the amount of mosquitoes breeding in that stagnant pool puddle.
This is one of my favorite posts you have done- i love the contrast of older pictures, which really shows how we let such beautiful things decline- it's like watching the rise and fall of economy. Your idea abomut ganking off LSU tickets is so smart - the amount of money made off of sports in BR is staggering.

Mark Sawyer

Did you know they erected a pneumatic roof over the pool at times? I spent most of my childhood running through this building, the racketball courts, the old armory basketball courts etc....when I wasn't standing in line at the football stadium with 1000 other boys tying to be the first to sell cokes to get in the game for free. You would use you first $5 to buy a tray of cokes then sit and watch the game and sell the cokes. Or if it wasn't a big game make some money. Great times

James

Great Job in uncovering whats going on with LSU's buildings. Have you every tried to get into Tiger Stadiums old dorms?

TF

How unutterably depressing, and so typical of the LSU system and Louisiana in general. I taught myself to swim in that pool back in the 1960s, and swam there regularly when I was a student at LSU in the 1970s/1980s. It was and is a gorgeous building and pool, and to see it in this terrible condition - well. What a horrible shame.

kpd

I used to sneak in late at night with some friends during the late 80's and play racquetball for a study break. We would climb a fence/gate to gain access. When we were done playing, we would dive off the top level into the pool for a cool down and then simply walk out one of the doors which would open from the inside when locked to outsiders. Later in life, my first daughter took her first swimming lessons there around '97. Shame to see it like this.

A.N.R.

My father attended LSU in the 60s and 70s (undergrad through Ph.D.) and just read this article. He told me that LSU students as far back as the 60s were not required to take a swim course; they were required to take two P.E. courses, swimming being one of the choices. Students being required to take swimming seems to be a modern LSU-related urban myth. He wanted to pass along that information :)

Derek

How did you get in there?

Bogalousa

love the post.

a friend of mine worked at the eckerds photo lab on govt a few years back when someone brought in long-lost found rolls of film from LSU. this was one of the images she developed for me:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=31032614&id=1448393514

rob

Color video of the pool (and other places at LSU) from the 50s:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf267wnEjzM

Mark LaFlaur

Nice post. But has anyone yet pointed out that Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth was the architectural firm that designed the *new* state capitol (built in 1931-32)? The designer of the *old* state capitol that Mark Twain derided in “Life on the Mississippi,” built between 1847 and 1852, was designed by New York architect James H. Dakin. This is all in “Buildings of Louisiana” by Karen Kingsley (Oxford, 2003). • I was in grad school at LSU in the mid 1980s and as late as 1987 was able to swim and sunbathe at the pool, though not many other students were using it when I was going there.

Clay Mahaffey

I swam there in the summers during the late '60's but my best memory of the pool was the party held there in 1971 following an LSU-Rice rugby game. We had played a brief 'curtain raiser' in Tiger Stadium (this had never been done before or since to my knowledge)and left to the pool for a party afterwards. Normally there is a keg or two of beer but this time someone brought a trash barrel and filled it up with jungle juice= vodka and grape juice. Being hot and thirsty we quickly drained the juice - don't recall if there was any food or not- and then everyone (players anyway) started swimming. The teams quickly paired off to a game of horse (one is on the shoulders of another guy) and tried to knock over the other team. First the tee shirts were ripped off and then the pants in some cases. It was a riot and great fun was had but we never had another party there. Too bad!

Michael Finger

I went to graduate school at LSU in the late 1970s and played many games of racquetball in the courts here. They were much larger than what is now considered regulation size, so you really ran yourself ragged, and the place — even then — was dark and creepy. As I recall, the upstairs was completely closed off, so if you hit the ball out of the courts (over the back wall, which opened into a long corridor) that ball was GONE. The walls of the courts were just bare concrete, with a dark stain around them at shoulder height where sweaty people smacked into them while playing. I hope they can save this outstanding building; it really doesn't look like it's beyond redemption, but I know money is tight everywhere. What a great post. Thanks for the memories!

Margot Brignac

I have often wondered what happened to the pool since I left Baton Rouge in 1999. I tell everyone I know about the pool and how great it was to have a facility like it on campus. When we were made to swim in the Special Olympics pool, it just wasn't the same. Then came the Natatorium with all of its regulations and now there is a new facility I know nothing about. It's a shame others will never experience swimming in this pool. I can remember being able to smell the coffee roasting all the way from Port Allen. There are just so many good things about this pool that should be preserved and passed along. The Huey P. Long pool was a big part of my current love of swimming. I scheduled my classes so that I had time to swim each day. I even met one of my college boyfriends and eventually my husband there. It makes me so sad to see what has happened to such a beautiful piece of history on the campus of a lucrative University. Actually, it makes me sick. Thank you so much for posting this.

E.M.

I have to laugh at the post about sneaking in by climbing a fence/gate back in the early 80s. Less than a year ago, five students (including a 4.0 pre-med student) were charged with a felony for doing the same. These young adults were not causing any damage and only simply exploring. Either because of incompetence or lack of common sense, the LSU police department will often abuse its power and in this case really went overboard. I would not recommend going anywhere near this structure.

A couple of the student’s parents were (read past tense) generous supporters of LSU. There’s no telling what could have been done with their continued support. Actually, it’s not that funny.

E.M.

I have to laugh at the post about sneaking in back in the 80s. Less than a year ago, five students (including a 4.0 pre-med student) were charge with a felony –yes a FELONY-- for doing the same. Due to incompetence or lack of common sense, the overzealous LSU police department will often abuse its power and in this case really went overboard. I would not recomend going anywhere near this structure.

A couple of the student's parents were (read past tense) very generous contributors to LSU. There's no telling what could have been done with their continued support. Actually, it's not that funny.

Becky Johnson

I learned to swim at this pool (my dad attended, then worked for LSU). When we were old enough, we'd ride our bikes here and swim all day. SO sad to see this!!! So sad!

Leuname

I just finished taking my wife on a tour of the outside of the building. She finished from LSU in '06 and never knew what bldg. was. As a kinesiology student, I am ashamed to say that such a historic building that houses our classes, labs, and offices is so poor. I am also ashamed that our department is responsible for the health of the athletes and we cannot get help from the athletic dept. We are the cheap labor that runs onto the field or court when someone is injured. Help us out Lombardi, Martin, Aleva. Shucks, if Miles said, "Hey, I want that pool refurbished and a column with my name on it," we'd take it.

Keep bringing awareness!!!

Cheap Escorts

somehow found your blog while searching for a article for a class, but I have to say I'm happy I found it ...will definately read some more post sometime.

Oralee GolubRubye HeeterPeter LochridgeMertie Arnott

somehow located your blog while searching for a article for a class, but I have to say I'm glad I found it ...will definately come back sometime.

Katalin K.

Thank you for documenting this interesting building! I went to LSU's in the mid to late 1990's. I only discovered the HPL Pool in my senior year in 1998 and went for a swim a few times - I was amazed at the 'spirit' of the place - it was fascinating, mysterious and full of history. Even wanted to take a bunch of pictures (like you!) - but exams got in the way. I guess that was just before it closed in 1999.

So great post and thank you for preserving the place on the web. - Any updates on what happened since?

R.W.S.

I just found these photos and this website. Wonderful! Thank you for documenting this. I teach Louisiana History and plan to use this website when we discuss Huey P. Long's fascination with LSU.
Like some of the other post writers, I, too, worked as a lifeguard at this pool in the mid 1980's. I also taught swimming lessons here during the summer months. I swam just about every day back then, even in the winter months. It was probably one of the best student jobs on campus!

David Waters

I remember back in the 70s going there to swim in the summers. Our dad went to school there [got his PhD] during that time as well as work there until his retirement in the early 90s. He worked at the dairy farm during his schooling. I always had fun when I got to go there. I can also remember going to the football games during that time & students still lived in those dorms around Tiger Stadium. I also have fond memories of all the livestock shows & rodeos that went on there at LSU.

TEX

I was a student at LSU during the 70's. I also took most of my classes in the Huey Long Field House, being the location of the Landscape Architecture Dept. at the time. Because I knew the bldg. so well, my fraternity brothers and I used to access the pool through the ballroom doors and slip under the inflated dome to enjoy midnight swims. More that once did we have to scamper out just ahead of the CS, but we never got caught. Just a small memory of my fun days at LSU!

Pam C

I was a student at LSU in the late sixties. We were required to take a swimming class as part of Physical Ed. I remember that pool quite well. Also took an aerobic class in that building which was called Conditioning Exercise back then and a dance class. Wow the memories came flooding back while looking at these picture!

John Arthur - Pool Paint

The sight of that abandoned pool looks quite haunting… I do hope it gets restored, it could look so spectacular again.

mike rubin

architects were the same as the ones who designed the new capitol -- not the old. Huey hated the old capitol and what it stood for and would not have used that architect who was long-since dead in any event.

cokane

Thanks to all for sharing your memories on this post. Thanks also to the two commenters who pointed out that I had some information wrong regarding which state capitol the same architects designed. I've updated the post accordingly.

building restoration

Various buildings made up of granite, sandstone or various types of marbles have lost the shine due to smog and thus their color turned black. In this process the original color and shine of the building is restored.

Catherine Schaff

I attended LSU in the late 70's and early 80's. I worked as a lifeguard at the HPL pool, taught lessons, and took advanced swimming classes there myself. I really would love to see it restored. It is such a shame that it has gone to waste.

Elizabeth Power

I used to meet my boyfriend (now my husband) back in the late '50's every afternoon at 3:00 when we got out of class there. We would have a coke and listen to the music that was being played. It was like a canteen where everyone met and had a good time. Really hate to see it in this state.

Mike and Wanda Thorne

My wife and I were LSU students between 1959 and 1969, and I taught there a year after receiving my Ph.D. I was horrified to see what has become of the old Field House and even more distressed to read that the WPA murals were painted over. I assume you mean the ones in Allen Hall.

Hank

Those pictures are amazing. As a graduate from back then I remember it well. The first pictures make me smile while the later pictures are quite sad. How things change.

Aaron

Hello! i am trying to find information about the basketball courts that use to be in the field house. I recently came to have a lot of oak flooring that is obviously an old basketball court. As the story goes, it was sold as salvage in 2004, changed hands a few times, and now i have it. They say it was the main basketball court in Huey P. Long Field House but no one has kept any specific records as to exactly where it came from. I was just wondering if anyone could give me some information to help me track down its origin and this seems like a good place to ask. Thanks for your time and any info may help! have a nice day!

Zane McCready

Thanks for sharing a wonderful content. i am so glad to visit your blog.

Tyson

Aaron, I'm no expert by any means but I've never heard mention of a basketball court in the Fieldhouse. I wonder if maybe it could be from Parker Coliseum?

H. Hart

My children learned to swim in this pool in the summer of 2002 or 2003. It was actually probably closed in 2005, not 1999 as stated in your article. LSU offered swim lessons with LSU students as teachers. We also went swimming and used the locker rooms/shower area during those two summers as it was open (at least to faculty families).
Your photo documentation is great. Someone should get this building on the historical building protection list. It is a shame to let it crumble. It could again become a gem of a hub meeting place on campus.

Maggie

I think everyone would be interested to know that this pool is the site of a scene in Pitch Perfect, the popular 2012 movie filmed on LSU campus. It's the scene with the Riff-Off and it takes place in an abandoned pool. You can't really tell where it is unless you notice the depth markings and pool ladders and the architecture of the Huey Long Fieldhouse surrounding it, but I did. I think it's really cool and I thought other people might want to know!

Richard Bourgeois

Shame on LSU for allowing this facility to become such an eyesore for so long. I have fond memories of this swimming pool, having learned how to swim there under Coach Higginbotham in 1952.

Kerry Lewis

I'm going to say this is just shameful that this was not brought to code and thought of when it came to the need of repair. This would be great to see it back where it should be so today's youth can enjoy the historical part of what makes Lsu.

Emily Hill

I've been to the campus and never knew about this

Brent Popadich

I went to LSU from 1996-1999 and I swam in that pool several times and there was hardly anyone ever there. I remember how unique it was, but how rundown it was getting. It's one of the coolest pieces of architecture on campus. So sad to see it like this.

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