ABR on the radio
Walkin' Around the Choc(taw)

Half-here today, gone tomorrow: The Turkish Baths

Rumors of the Turkish Baths' imminent demise have not been exaggerated.


The fiance and I happened upon it in this condition yesterday, a year almost to the day from the first time it caught my eye. See the first post about the place here.


This building was the first spark to the interest that became Abandoned Baton Rouge. I was sad to see the old place go, but I'm glad I caught it halfway. And at least now I could look inside...what was left of the inside.


Once we got close, the rubble smelled acrid, like burned insulation. First we went to the right side of the intact part of the building and looked under the building, where all manner of unsavory activities could have taken place.


But overall, not as scary of a view as one might expect. During college, I rented an apartment in New Brunswick that had a dirtier basement. (I'm talking about it had a huge pile of literal dirt.)

Here's the view through one of the air-conditioner holes from the same side.


Then I climbed up to the rubble part to get another look inside. Note the propped mattress toward the back.


Pretty mundane stuff for Turkish Baths. Not having ever been inside a Turkish bath house myself, I don't know firsthand what sort of activities went on in there...but I've seen the movies, and can tell you there won't be any more of that going on. No more tossing around of the medicine ball, no more lifting barbells, wearing a stripey wrestling outfit while sporting a handlebar moustache, no more sparring about in the pose of the Fighting Irish mascot, no more fat-reducing jittery-band-around-the waist machine, no more sauna box with the opening at the top for your head to stick out. (Those movies I saw were actually Three Stooges and Little Rascals clips.)


Actually, as mentioned in 225's photo tour of the building, in more recent times it served as a rehearsal space for bands. I'm not sure what kind of music went down in there, but can tell you that as of yesterday, the place looks quite metal.



On the way out, I grabbed myself a few souvenirs, as I'd encourage anyone else so inclined to do, before it's gone for good. Now's your chance to recycle some BR history. I picked two sharp slivers of wood to use as stakes in the garden, as well as a chunk of concrete with pink tile from the shower, thinking it would make a fine headstone for my cat's grave. (It does.) The one below isn't the same chunk, although it does appear like a cat may have had some trouble upon it.


So why did the Turkish Baths get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks.



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I didn't know they had half demolished Turkish baths at Rocklahoma!

I think maybe the Baton-Rouge-Turkish ruins are more metal than Warrant, though, so you get at least six points.


i'm pretty sure it got demolished because they're building housing projects right there.

also, all the lots along highland and nicholson are being rezoned to commercial zones to make the streets storefronts with all the space inside the two streets staying residential...



Wow! I just wonder what they will build in its place?


Kudos on the radio interview! I'm excited about the growth of ABR!

Leslie @ the oko box

I think it's sad that they would knock down a buildling and then build a new one on top - why can't they just ad on, spruce up the one that's there? The Turkish Baths looked so solid. Seems like such a waste... i hope BR artists pilfer the remains.

Jimmy Miller

Exerts from the Historical Louisiana Nomination Form; Baton Rouge Area's “Treasures in Trouble “2008 List.
The History of Alvin Roy’s Strength and Health Studio
Originally, the building served as home to the WJBO radio station. In 1947, the property was purchased by a 32 year-old native of Baton Rouge, Alvin Roy, and opened as Louisiana’s first commercial gym.”

This building is historically significant. Not only was the studio one of the first of its kind in the United States, but it also gave African-Americans a chance to work out in the establishment prior to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The gym had specific hours for women, making the facility the first ladies-only concept. In 1958, Alvin’s studio was home to the first collegiate resistance training program and part of the LSU Tiger’s 1958 National Championship.

Alvin Roy and the Weight-lifting Revolution
Alvin Roy was a major in the U.S. Army and a member of the European Theatre of Operations Athletic Division. When the U.S. Weight-lifting Team decided to enter the first post-WWI world championships held in Paris, Roy was called upon to serve as trainer. With the knowledge and experience Roy gained from being trainer the three post-war U.S. Weight Lifting world champion teams, he opened Alvin Roy’s Health and Strength Studio. Having amenities such as saunas, steam rooms, and massage therapy, he educated and advocated resistance training for the masses despite the majority mind-set that lifting free-weights only benefited “muscle-bound” men. He designated specific hours for women, making the facility the first ladies-only concept. In 1952, Alvin was called upon again to assist the U.S. Weight Lifting team at the Helsinki Olympics in Finland. In 1958, Alvin’s studio was home to the first collegiate resistance training program. The college: LSU. The sport: football. Once again, Roy shattered the mass perception that resistance training would be detrimental to athletes; making them slow and uncoordinated and destroying muscle elasticity. Prior to 1958, resistance training didn’t exist in sports on any level. With the additional strength and weightlifting to their existing conditioning program, Alvin Roy contributed significantly to the Tiger’s National Championship title and head coach Paul Dietzel achievement as coach of the year. Obviously, the Tigers didn’t have a weight-room. So the team worked out at Alvin’s studio. He never once demanded compensation. Soon after the great year at LSU, Alvin Roy was asked by Sid Gillman, coach of the San Diego Chargers, to install the first comprehensive year-around program for a pro-football team. Initially, members of the Chargers team came to Baton Rouge to experience the benefits of Roy’s resistance training. Considering these events happened before the civil rights movement of the 1960’s, once again, Roy’s facility broke barriers by including African-American members of the Chargers team with the health establishment they deserved. The Chargers would win an American Football League championship, for the 1963 season, with Roy. He went on to Kansas City, where the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV in 1970, then to Dallas where the Cowboys, too, would win a Super Bowl with Roy in 1972. In 1979 he joined the then Oakland Raiders. He died that year. Until his permanent transition into the NFL, Alvin Roy’s “Slenderizing Salon” produced history-making athletes such as Heisman winner and football great Billy Cannon, Jimmy Taylor (running back for the Super Bowl I and II Champions, Green Bay Packers under coach Vince Lombardi), basketball great Bob Pettit, and legendary strength and weight lifting coach Gayle Hatch, who has himself, been inducted into eleven Hall of Fames. Hatch was the head-coach for the U.S. weightlifting team during the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

For over three decades, with the passion and vision of Alvin Roy, Baton Rouge was one of the biggest sites of the weight lifting revolution for every gender, race, and age.
Nominator Information
My name is Jimmy Miller. I have been a personal trainer in the health and fitness industry since 1995. Three weeks ago, I first became aware of the rich historical past regarding fitness in my hometown Baton Rouge. Astounded and amazed at the story of Alvin Roy, I wondered why this information was not more well-known in the community (more specifically, in my industry).

In this country, over half of our adult population is by definition obese and almost half of the adolescent population as well. Our government and related health agencies have declared obesity an epidemic. Louisiana is ranked forth highest in the country in obesity. Sixty-three percent of Louisiana adults are obese or overweight. Seventeen percent of Louisiana children are overweight and an equal amount are estimated to be at risk for overweight. Since 1990, obesity rates have increased from 12.3% to 30.8% of the population, contributing to the United Health Foundation ranking of Louisiana as 50th for 2006. Obesity and overweight are associated with increased risk for costly chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers.
Obese adults have a 36% higher average annual medical expenditure than adults at normal weight. The cost of child obesity-associated illness increased form 35 to 127 million in the past two decades. Children are being diagnosed with adult diseases.

Regionally, the South was found to be the “Biggest Belt”. It is home to nine of the ten states with the highest rated of obesity. The southern region is also home to nine of ten states with the highest rates of diabetes and hypertension, two major health problems often related to obesity. I feel the current lack of interest regarding fitness and health explains why someone like Alvin Roy would no longer be relevant. This would also explain why our community’s heritage is associated with indulgence and consumption, and not exercise.

I am very proud of my south Louisiana traditions. I am also very proud to say Baton Rouge was once on the cutting edge of my industry. I believe given the current state regarding the health of our population, preserving Baton Rouge’s roots in the fitness industry could be a wonderful vehicle in revitalizing the health of our citizens. I am not interested in impeding any progress. I decided years ago to stay in Baton Rouge and do my part in the efforts regarding change and progress. Standing on top of the Shaw building downtown (another area that has benefited from supported intervention), and looking out on my home town and the progress that has taken place brings tears to my eyes and fills me with pride.”

“I do not want my efforts to get in the way of the Baton Rouge Foundation’s strategy to revitalize Old South Baton Rouge. I believe this can all be planned together. Many people in this community support this idea. I consciously decided not to put names on this form because this is intended only to unite, not divide.”

“This effort can literally save lives; it could show our community and the rest of this country the depths of our heritage go beyond notorious food and politics. Preserving and restoring Alvin Roy’s facility again as a vehicle to promote health and wellness is progress. So much effort is being put forth to give the people of Baton Rouge a better quality of life. Our community needs more examples that enable an individual quality ways to preserve life. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our community. We owe it to Alvin Roy.”

After turning this nomination in this past Monday at 4:30 (the committee's deadline was Tuesday) I drove over to Oklahoma Street. After a few minutes I realized the studio's fate was sealed a long time ago. The building may be gone now but that doesn't diminish Alvin Roy's pivotal role regarding physical culture. On Wednesday I got a call from the head of the committee. She told me how upset they all were about the building and was trying to figure out what happened. Regardless, the committee was so impressed with our efforts they established a new program," Lost Treasures". Since this is about the community we felt everyone should be involved. Monday (the 21st) at 4:30 everyone is invited to attend and help come up with creative and unique ideas for preserving Alvin Roy's place in history. The meeting will be held at The Old Governors Mansion which is home to The Louisiana Historical Foundation. The foundation will facilitate the process and funding for this project. If you can not attend the meeting please call, 225-252-0317, and leave your suggestions, comments, or questions. We would like to thank Mrs. Kane for giving us another avenue for this invaluable piece of history. If anyone would like more information on Alvin Roy this article by Dr. Terry Todd is very informative. www.irongamehistory.com/IGHIndexMain.htm - 2k.

Fit! That’s all. That’s it.

Jimmy Miller

I apologize but the above is not the correct address for Dr. Todd's article. http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/IGH/IGH0201/IGH0201f.pdf
It was 3am. Cut me a little slack on my elementary level grammer as well. See you guys Monday @ 4:30!!!!


I love your site! I was in a band in the late nineties and we practiced there. The building had been converted into a practice space. I say converted, really the owner nailed a lot of carpet on the walls. One night, as we were leaving, we began to open the door and it flew open. In jumped a man who claimed to be with a large group of gentlemen. He was armed with a tire iron demanding our wallets and any valuables we might have ( the logic of this escapes me, musicians have neither valuables or money!). There were three of us, myself and the drummer were right next to the guy; the guitarist was down the hall. The guitarist said, “ lets rush him.” I didn't support this idea as if he decided to hit someone with his weapon I would probably be the first target. Then the oddest thing happened, the assailant began to call for his friends who were either imaginary or had run off and I began to argue with the guitarist over the logic of his, “ rush him plan.” There ensued what seemed like an hour of the mugger screaming names whiles I'm yelling with the guitarist. The drummer actually shouted, “ would you guys stop f****ng screaming.” This seemed to calm things down and got us back to the matter at hand, the mugging. The drummer and I gave the guy our wallets and the guitarist gave him the finger. Satisfied with this the mugger ran off probably discovering that for his efforts he scored maybe eight bucks. Later the drummer and I got the guitarist to buy us McDonald's because he was the only one with money.

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For small buildings, such as houses, that are only two or three stories high, demolition is a rather simple process. The building is pulled down either manually or mechanically using large hydraulic equipment: elevated work platforms, cranes, excavators or bulldozers. Larger buildings may require the use of a wrecking ball, a heavy weight on a cable that is swung by a crane into the side of the buildings. Wrecking balls are especially effective against masonry, but are less easily controlled and often less efficient than other methods. Newer methods may use rotational hydraulic shears and silenced rock-breakers attached to excavators to cut or break through wood, steel, and concrete. The use of shears is especially common when flame cutting would be dangerous.

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The fiance and I happened upon it in this condition yesterday, a year almost to the day from the first time it caught my eye.

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I also found that some Vermonters could not get a good connection to the webcast even when it was working: examples of why we need better broadband in Vermont in a hurry.

Core Drill Bits

Demolition is a rather simple process for small buildings, such as houses, that are only two or three stories high..


looks like such a mess. they say it is easier to brake than to build. i can argue with that! Hope some day there is going to be something really beautiful in this place

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