About 30 miles north of Baton Rouge, in the rolling hills of East Feliciana Parish, are the remains of what was once Centenary College. The liberal arts school was founded in 1825 and today, as the main attraction at Centenary State Historic Site, it tells the story of a once thriving men’s college whose rise to prominence was dramatically affected by the Civil War.
The students of what was initially known as the College of Louisiana were the sons of planters and professionals. Within 20 years of its founding, the College of Louisiana’s enrollment grew greatly, but financial hardship led it to merge with another school, Mississippi’s Centenary College.
The newly minted Centenary College of Louisiana flourished until the Civil War, when Union troops used the dormitories for housing and Confederates converted part of the school into a hospital. Centenary, with damaged buildings and low enrollment, never recovered after the war. In 1908, the school moved to Shreveport where it remains in operation today.
Today, visitors can tour the grounds of the college and learn of Centenary’s successes and demise. The West Wing dormitory and a professor’s house still stand, offering insights into college life nearly 200 years ago. Guided tours are offered daily at Centenary State Historic Site that showcase the buildings and the gorgeous scenery surrounding the school.
Entrance fee: $4 per person, free for seniors age 62 and older and children age 3 and under.