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If you took a poll of any student at Louisiana State University, most would think that it was always located in the capital city of Baton Rouge. But they would be wrong.

It was originally built in central Louisiana, in what now is the city of Pineville. It was founded in 1853 and named the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning and Military Academy. The institution opened January 2, 1860, with Col. William Tecumseh Sherman as superintendent. The school closed June 30, 1861, because of the Civil War. It reopened on April 1, but was again closed on April 23, 1863, due to the invasion of the Red River Valley by the federal army.

The seminary reopened October 2, 1865, only to be burned October 15, 1869. On November 1, 1869, it reopened again, this time in Baton Rouge, where it has since remained.

But why was it originally located here? It was due to a man named George Mason Graham, a native Virginian but with connections to local, state, and federal government. Graham was named in 1856 as Vice Chairman, with the Governor of the state as acting chairman, of the Board of Trustees entrusted with the establishment of a state university. As it so happened both Graham and the Governor at the time, Gov. James Madison Wells, were from Rapides Parish, and so, not surprisingly, the school was established here.

Graham lived in Tyrone Plantation, which he built in 1843. The plantation is located on Bayou Rapides, about a mile from my home.

The original LSU site in Pineville is located across the street from where I work. The U.S. Forest Service partnered with LSU in developing the site as a historical attraction and opened a walking trail. Along the trail are ruins of the foundation and “ghost walls” to designate the location of the building’s original walls, as well as informative markers.

So almost every day, I pass by both the home of the “Father of LSU” and its original location. How cool is that!




  1. Did you know that the author of “Three Pioneer Rapides Familes” that chronicles the genealogy of the Robert family was George Mason Graham Stafford. I believe he is related in some way?

      • archipelagojewelry
      • Posted August 16, 2012 at 8:25 am
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      • Reply

      No, I did not. Interesting…I will have to look into that. If I find any info, I will add another post!

  2. Was not aware that the site of the State Seminary of Learning was open to the public. George Mason Graham was my great-great grandfather on my mother’s side of the family.

      • archipelagojewelry
      • Posted October 23, 2012 at 9:35 pm
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      • Reply

      Wow John. Were you aware of Tyrone? Where do you live?

"Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.” Mark Twain

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