A Gothic Winter's Day in Civil War Territory

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I recently headed north of Baton Rouge with two new pals I met through this blog to see some Civil War sites and other nearby points of interest.

With battlefield exploration, you have to fill in a lot of blanks with your imagination. My own brain supplied vague jumbles of mustachioed men in double-breasted coats fighting each other with bayonet guns and cannons. I'm not going to front--I have not retained a lot of information about the Civil War from high school history class, not that much of it ever sunk in. For me, any battle descriptions go in one ear and out the other, unless it's told with some compelling human element or perhaps if it is acted out in a movie starring Patrick Swayze. 

But for those interested and knowledgeable on such matters, I can tell you that we visited the site of the Siege of Port Hudson. Back then, it looked like this:

Siege_of_Port_Hudson 

See those mounds in the illustration? If my sources are correct (and I have no reason to believe they're not), I'll show you what some of those mounds look like now.

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Best Comment Ever

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It's Friday, so you know what that means (no you don't, yet)-- It's time for ABR's new regular feature, Best Comment Ever!

For this week's month's Best Comment Ever, we're going all the way back to a post from 2007 when my old camera Old Blue Eye made everything look blue, and a storytelling comment which was left by commenter Jay in 2008. The post covered LoBianco's Grocery, among other Government Street buildings. 

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Big Fan?

Hi all,

First, thanks for joining me in this third year of Abandoned Baton Rouge. 

I finally made it into 2008 and created a Facebook page for ABR after I was alerted to a Baton Rouge memories page on Facebook running photos of places I've covered here, such as the Real Superstore and the Broadmoore Theater. Must say, I found that Facebook page to be suspiciously derivative of this blog. But at any rate, won't you be my fan

I want to thank everyone for the praise, insight, and memories you leave. I don't often respond to the comments, but I read every one with interest. And you are too kind--Lord knows a lot of the photos on here are not my best; in fact, I cringe to look back at many posts--never mind the fact that most of the time I don't even have interior access to the buildings I feature.

But! 

Thanks to the guy who brought me here to Louisiana in the first place, and to the birthday of Baby Jesus, I have a new camera--a much better one, without sand damage to the lens. And I have never been a trained photographer, but I've been slowly improving with practice. I have less than five months left living in BR, but I hope these will be productive months for the blog (and as always, I need your suggestions for sites to check out). So let's make these last few months count! 

GO TEAM!


Motels of Highway 61 Revisited

Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done?"

God says, "Out on Highway 61."

Bellmont - early 50s

Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, also known as the storied Highway 61, is famous for its sketchy motels. Sketchy motels are an essential part of our cultural heritage: that's where nearly all the murdering and philandering and all sorts of untoward business goes down. Just look at every movie from No Country For Old Men to...well, almost every other movie ever.

It was at one of these Airline motels a little further south, Sugar Bowl Courts, where Jimmy Swaggart met with disgrace in 1987, along with his ladyfriend the prostitute. They don't still exist in the numbers they used to, but kind of shockingly, these mom & pop motels do still exist in this era of chain hotels and motels. 

A few such establishments have already appeared here on Abandoned Baton Rouge: Ten Flags Inn and The Bellemont, the latter which you can see in happier days above. All of the historic "before" postcards in this post were found online or otherwise by Ken Freeman and posted on his website dedicated to remembering his hometown, Alexandria Retrospective. After he contacted me recently, the historic postcard section about Baton Rouge on his website gave me a new idea for finding sites for this blog: work backwards from historic photos and their addresses. Seeing those motel postcards prompted me to make a trip to Airline and see what was still standing. 

The exercise reinforced a lesson I've been learning: seek and you shall find.

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A Tinseltown Surprise


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Tinseltown 


It only closed in the past few years or so, if memory serves, but I still thought every time I passed it en route to New Orleans that I had to check out the former Tinseltown movie theater. Even a few months can do some interesting damage to a structure here. Plus, you never know what you might find. Turns out it was a quick and mostly uneventful visit, but I did find something pretty cool.

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Steve & Barry's University Sportswear at Cortana Mall

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A subspecies of the urban explorer set are people into dead malls. Coming from the land of malls myself, New Jersey, I've got dead mall exploration in my blood and would love to get a chance to get inside one. So imagine my interest on spying one wedge of Cortana looking abandoned.

Cortana Mall, er, uh, "The Mall at Cortana" a name adjustment which rings false even to a newcomer like me who hasn't been inside the mall, isn't yet a dead mall, but like a lot of suburban shopping complexes these days, it's not doing great. I think I read somewhere that it's at about 70% occupancy, and no one really expects that number to rise. 

This is just a brief post concerning the former Steve & Barry's University Sportswear.

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State Street Housing

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My job takes me onto State Street a lot, which strikes me as a sort of shantytown ghetto of off-campus LSU student housing. As for the non-students living on the street, most of them don't look like they're faring so well in the game of life. There is always at least one person of questionable sobriety on State Street, no matter the time of day. When I finished these photos around 5 p.m. yesterday, one red-faced shirtless man was past the questionable stage and was on his way to rip-roaring drunk. When traversing State Street on foot, I just hope I won't get run down by a car as I step into the street to avoid a huge puddle, turn an ankle on one of its many pedestrian hazards, step on discarded underwear, or get hassled by the dudes drinking on the porch who once tried to summon me over.

I'm not sure why it took me so long to notice that these three large buildings were empty, but I suspect it's because their ramshackle appearance is not all that different from most other buildings on the street. I had to visit three times, as the first time my battery died, and the second time there was a team of guys working on the buildings. Are these being renovated, or torn down? It appears they're being renovated, as they're clearing out the junk. I like that they may be preserving old structures, though it's surprising to see such dilapidated buildings get a makeover.

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Abandoned Baton Rouge needs YOU!

I have a day job now and wander less, which greatly limits my finding new abandoned sites. So please get in touch if you've seen a great building I should explore: colleenrkane @ gmail.

Also, I'm sending all kinds of abandoned and urban decay -related goodies into the universe via my Twitter profile Yes Vacancy, and I could sure use more followers there. See you in the nerd zone.