Old State Capitol

A ‘Ghost of the Castle’ is said to haunt the halls of this former hall of government

Ghostly Claims at the
Old State Capitol

  • The apparition of a woman has been seen as far back as a hundred years ago
  • Mysterious flashes of light have been encountered at night
  • Footsteps have been heard throughout the building
  • Sounds of doors slamming have been reported
  • Motion sensors and lights in the building will be tripped without known cause

History of the Old State Capitol

In the middle of Repentance Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, surrounded by museums, performance centers, and exhibition halls, stands a cathedral-like castle that was once the heart and soul of the state’s political machines. Louisiana’s Old State Capitol might not greet lawmakers and lobbyists anymore, but the bleach-white political fortress is far from empty.

The Old State Capitol houses more than politics

Now a popular local museum, the Old State Capitol greets thousands of tourists each year. But, though many of the enduring figures who once graced its halls have moved into history books with the passage of time, one reportedly remains. Every good castle ought to have a ghost or two, and the Castle of Baton Rouge is no exception.

Timeline of Old State Capitol's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Old State Capitol through the years


In 1846, the Louisiana State Legislature changed the seat of state government to Baton Rouge in response to the perceived ‘sinfulness’ of New Orleans. Once the site was chosen, the government moved quickly hiring architects and builders to bring the new capitol building to life. Designers chose a very castle-like gothic style for the building, a stark departure from other state capitols, which often followed neoclassical and Greek revival design styles.


The state legislature met for the first time in the new Baton Rouge building in 1850. Just over ten years later, in January of 1861, leaders met in the capitol and voted formally to secede from the US during the first days of the Civil War. In 1862, legislators fled the building as Union forces advanced. When the Union took Baton Rouge, they used the capitol as a command post, prison, and a garrison for a unit of black troops. During the war, the Old State Capitol caught fire twice, and by 1865 it was nothing more than a burned-out shell.


After the war, New Orleans was re-established as the state capital for a short stint, only for the capital to be moved back to Baton Rouge after an 1879 constitutional convention. The new building looked very much the same to the old one, but many additions were added. A full fourth floor was included this time, along with an ornate central spiral staircase and a massive, strikingly colorful stained-glass dome above the staircase. This new building was opened in 1884, and state government functions once again moved to Baton Rouge.


Over the years, the state capitol was home to many intense debates and even a few fist fights. In 1906, the building caught fire again, but was saved sans the senate chamber, which was quickly rebuilt. The capitol served for 26 more years, but the government eventually outgrew the old building, and the state approved construction on a new capitol in 1929. When the new, and current, state capitol was finished in 1932, all government work moved out of the Castle of Baton Rouge, and the building became known as the ‘Old State Capitol.’


During the Great Depression, the Old State Capitol was used by the Works Progress Administration, and, in 1948, several veterans’ organizations moved into the building. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, after which the structure was placed under the Louisiana Museum System and refurbished with a $2.5 million approval from the state legislature.


In 1991, the veterans’ organization offices were moved out as another major restoration took place. Historical aspects like the central staircase and bright stained-glass dome were revitalized, and the building reopened in 1994 as the Museum of Political History, which it remains as today. But, aside from educating the public on Louisiana’s political history, local lore suggests that ghosts of Baton Rouge’s political past still linger in the Old Capitol Building, and that they sure have a lot to say.

The Old State Capitol & The Spirit of Sarah Morgan

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol is believed to be haunted by one spirit in particular, and an active one at that. Legend has it that during the mid and late-1800s, a woman named Sarah Morgan was born and raised in Baton Rouge. In her life, Sarah Morgan saw the Old State Capitol built, burned, and rebuilt all over again, remaining transfixed on the building’s beauty and importance.

Before her death, supposedly, Sarah Morgan told her loved ones she hoped to spend her afterlife in the old capitol that she so adored. Since her death, many believe her spirit succeeded at her wish and remains in the capitol permanently.

The Old State Capitol’s Nosy Ghost

Prior to the Old Capitol Building’s closure, lawmakers, aides, and visitors often claimed to see the apparition of Sarah Morgan appear at impeachments, hearings, and parties held inside the building.

But, despite her penchant for appearing at official government proceedings, Sarah Morgan’s apparition has rarely been seen since the government offices moved out. Instead, many report other signs of her presence today, with one of the most popular claims being the sounds of phantom footsteps.

A Senator’s Spirit in the Old State Capitol?

Footsteps have been heard all throughout the building, from hallways to former senate chambers. In the past, some believed the footsteps in the Louisiana State Senate Chamber to be the work of Pierre Couvillion, a state senator from the 1800s.

It is rumored that Couvillion died on the senate chamber floor after giving an impassioned speech that sparked a heart attack. This rumor turned out to be unfounded, as Couvillion died at his home. Regardless, footsteps are still heard from strange places at all hours of the day in the Old Capitol Building, with many now pinning them on Sarah Morgan.

The Old State Capitol stalked by night

Along with the phantom footsteps, visitors and workers have reported the sounds of doors loudly slamming in the building, though none are ever found to be suspiciously closed. Many other paranormal reports come from night security guards around the building, who frequently experience unexplainable things during their shifts.

Motion sensors around the building are known to be tripped during the night by unseen forces, as are motion sensing lights that are in otherwise locked rooms. Additionally, nightshift security guards have reported the sight of strange flashes of light appearing on video feeds and in dark corridors.

The Old State Capitol:
A Mysterious Museum

The Old State Capitol today keeps itself busy as the Museum of Political History, but the staff around the museum are often open about the spirits supposedly lingering within. One of the museum’s popular programs revolves around these legends. The Ghost of the Castle Show is a theatrical presentation in the museum that utilizes the ghost stories of Sarah Morgan to teach about the history of the building and the state of Louisiana.

The Old Stat Capitol in Lousiana is known to be haunted

In 2012, the hauntings reported at the Old State Capitol were featured on the popular SyFy series Ghost Hunters, furthering the building’s paranormal reputation. And though formal investigations and ghost tours are not offered today, there are still plenty of other tours to book of the space. But even on a normal tour, you might get lucky enough to encounter the sounds of Sarah Morgan, who seems to enjoy that the Old State Capitol is now as well known for spirits as it is for stained-glass.