Louisiana Politcal Museum & Hall of Fame

(318) 628-5928
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LOUISIANA POLITICAL MUSEUM & HALL OF FAME
The Birthplace of Louisiana Politics

By Nancy J. Reid

 

Carolyn Phillips, Executive Director of the Louisiana Political Museum in Winnfield, talks with Big Blend Radio about the museum, Louisiana politics and Governors Huey P. Long, Earl K. Long, and O.K. Allen.

There are a lot of things about Louisiana that are different, but Winnfield, Louisiana lays claim to a couple of real differences. One, Winnfield is the home of the only Political Museum in the country, and is one of only two Political Museums in the world, as far as we could find. Another difference is Winnfield is the birthplace of three governors, Huey P. Long, Jr., Oscar K. Allen, and Earl Kemp Long. Because of this, the small city calls itself “the birthplace of Louisiana politics,” and many of the residents say “politics is a game and we all play it.”

It took a lot of volunteers, fund-raising and donations of time and materials to open the Louisiana Political Museum & Hall of Fame, but on the Centennial of Huey P. Long’s birthday, August 30,1993, the Museum had it’s grand opening. The museum is inside the restored L & A Railroad Depot from the early 1900s that was donated to the City of Winnfield by the L & A Railroad Company in 1988.

The museum houses plenty of memorabilia from the political history of Louisiana, along with caricatures of each inductee into the Political Hall of Fame, done by the former Shreveport Times cartoonist, P. A. “Pap” Dean, Jr. It also has the dining room furniture from the home of Mr. & Mrs. Huey P. Long and the 1951 Chevrolet sedan that originally belonged to Earl K. Long. He used it as a campaign vehicle in the 1950’s–complete with a sound system on top. Later it was used in the film, Blaze. There are also life size sculptures of Huey and Earl Long.

If you are not a political junkie, or from Louisiana, you might ask why all the attention to the Longs, and to politics? Well, Huey, a very outspoken, tough character, was known as ‘The Kingfisher’. He spoke out against red tape, government incompetency, and corporate greed. He built roads, bridges, provided free public education to children of all races, expanded Louisiana State University, and fought to uplift the poor. This endeared him to many, but also riled his opposition.  He was assassinated in 1935, at the age of 42, just as he was poised to run for President against Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Huey’s brother, Earl, “last of the red hot poppas”, Long, was known for his “stumping” or campaigning skills. Stumping refers to standing on a tree stump while speaking to his constituents.

He was often surrounded by scandals and during his last term as Governor was thought to be mentally unstable. He was eventually confined in the mental hospital in Mandeville. Because at the time nothing in Louisiana law required him to relinquish power, Long kept his political machine running by telephone. He had connections and ordered the head of the state hospital system fired, then replaced him with a supporter he knew would have him released. It is thought that Long’s wife and co-horts had him institutionalized because of his relationship with Blaze Starr. Blaze was a known vaudeville performer. In 1989 the film, Blaze hit the big screen, starring Paul Newman as Long and Lolita Davidovich as Blaze.

There’s a lot more to these stories, and of course, you’ll find out even more with a visit to the Museum. It’s a Museum with a difference, that’s for sure!


Approximately 45 miles from Natchitoches, Cane River National Heritage Area and Cane River Creole National Historical Park, the Louisiana Political Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 499 E. Main Street, Winnfield, LA 71483. For more information call (318) 628-5928 or visit www.LAPoliticalMuseum.com.

 

Natchitoches, LA

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