201 East Main Street
The End of an Era
On Monday, June 20, 2011, at approximately 11:00 pm, New Iberia’s Main Street suffered a devastating loss. Fire broke out on the third floor of the Masonic Lodge, which had just celebrated its 100th birthday the month before. Fire extensively damaged the third floor Masonic meeting space while the rest of the building succumbed to water damage. Due to safety issues, it was determined that the building would have to come down. By Wednesday morning, the building that had seen so much of New Iberia’s growth and struggles was no more than a pile of rubble.
During our historical studies, we, the creators of Phone Home, have come to know this building as a friend and neighbor. We are truly saddened by this loss to our history and our community.
Please see the photo gallery below for pictures marking the end of an era.
Every Building Has a Story
Men of Aurora Lodge 193, part of a secret society known as the Free Masons, gathered together for their first meeting on August 3, 1868. Their charter was granted on the date of March 3, 1869, and their first permanent lodge opened on the corner of West Main and Swain Streets on July 4, 1889. They then sold that building which was located in the current day parking lot of Evangeline Life Building and bought the land upon which a building of much history once stood.
This current structure replaced a building built in 1871 that was used for Iberia Parish’s first courthouse located on the corner. This two story brick building also contained a coffee shop located at the bottom and the courthouse at the top. It remained a courthouse until 1884 when the building moved to Iberia Parish’s first permanent court building located at the present day site of Bouligny Plaza. The Vendome Opera House, which was used for entertainment purposes, replaced the courthouse. All remained until May 20, 1905, when the building burnt down due to a high school experiment gone bad.
The present structure was dedicated on May 24, 1911. The edifice was built as a three story arts and crafts style building. The bottom floor was first an A&P grocery store and was later replaced by a Firestone store, which was originally located across the street. Today the ground floor serves as a medical supply store. The building was designed as a source of income for Aurora Lodge 193, with the ground floor being rented for retail and the second floor for rented office space. The third floor contains the Free Mason’s lodge.
If Walls and Windows Could Talk
The Masonic building is a three story arts and crafts red brick building. The storefront consists of multiple glass windows and doors with the entrance to the Masonic Lodge located on the right. There is a metal awning perched over the storefront. The building has eight pairs of six over one double-hung windows, and four of the eight sets have a white canopy hovering over the windows. As you look to the top of the building, you will see three Masonic symbols carved out of white marble. Originally the decorative roof was of terracotta tile.
A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words
Monday, June 20, 2011–The Destruction Begins
(Photos courtesy of Phyllis Mata, Lance Leblanc, Meghan Bellingham, Chris Jordan)
“3 Generations Members of Masonic Lodge.” Daily Iberian and Jeanerette Enterprise. 21 Sept. 1965: 1. Microform.
A&P Grocery Store. Advertisement. New Iberia Enterprise. 6 April 1934: 4. Microform.
At Firestone for Early Shop. Advertisement. Daily Iberian. 23 Nov 1956: 8. Microfilm.
Belanger, Milton. Masonic Building. 2011. Photographs. Private Collection. Milton Belanger.
Belanger, Milton. Personal Interview. 12 May 2011.
Bellingham, Meghan, and Chayse Romero. Masonic Building. 2011. Photographs. Private Collection. Meghan Bellingham.
Laperouse, Roberta, and Jimmy Delcambre. New Iberia 1950 – 1953. Photographs. Private Collection. Mickey Delcambre.
Martin, Carroll I. A. Masonic Temple 1910s. I. A. and Carroll Martin Collection. Photographs. Private Collection. Glenn Conrad.
Schwing, Paul. Personal Interview. 12 May 2011.
“Symbols and Their Meaning.” Crossroad. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.crossroad.to/Books/symbols1.html>.