The column of the Evangeline Theater in New Iberia, LA, served as a beacon guiding us toward the refurbished theater for an introduction.
"The vertical Art Deco Evangeline sign that still graces the front of the building is original to the theater. Incandescent lights create a flashing border around the word Evangeline which is spelled out in neon lights. Neon did not become generally widespread in Louisiana until the late 1930s, so the sign represents an early use of neon in the state.
"The Theater started its life as a wholesale grocery building in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Remodeled for a movie house in 1929, the building gained its current Art Deco facade and other characteristics during a 1939/40 renovation. The two story brick building's facade, clad in stucco and pigmented structural glass,...is fully restored to its 1940 appearance" (crt.state.la.us/hp/nationalregister).
After its days as a movie house had ended, the 600-seat Theater on Main Street was donated to the city in 1994 by its owners, the Sliman family.
"The Theater was restored to its original Art Deco style appearance in 1997 and reopened in 1998 as the Sliman Theater for the Performing Arts" (cinematreasures.org).
"Many of the original characteris-tics of the auditorium space were lost during a 30-year period of neglect after the theater closed in 1960. Holes in the roof and rotting floorboards allowed water and other de-teriorating elements to ruin much of the interior space. The rehabilita-tion process which began in 1996 reworked the auditorium to stabilize the structure and to allow for mixed uses. The once slanting wood floor has been replaced with a flat poured concrete surface. A new stage, sound booth and roofing/ ceiling system, along with exposed brick walls alter the original appearance of the auditorium. As in the lobby, though, several light fixtures have been restored to give a sense of the historic fixtures. The wall sconces that line the walls as well as the hanging conical light fixtures from the ceiling were part of the 1940 refurbishing" (crt.state.la.us/hp/nationalregister).
The brick with it moderate signs of deteriora-tion added character to the room. We hope it will not be plastered over.
"Some elements of each era of the building’s history remain. The general shape as well as three of the exterior walls are remnants of the earliest period. The interior walls of the auditorium, left exposed during the recent rehabilita-tion, also show evidence of the building as a wholesale grocery. A series of pockets in the brick walls denote where shelves and hangers were attached to hold the groceries and other supplies.
As we were leaving, we saw posters announcing the appearance of BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet within the week, but when we approached the ticket booth, our questions about the availability of tickets seemed to fall on deaf ears.