Sliman Theater for the Performing Arts and Bayou Teche Museum

129 East Main Street

131 East Main Street

Every Building Has a Story

One of the best places to watch a good movie in New Iberia during the mid 1900s was the Evangeline Theatre along Main Street. According to the Bayou Teche Museum, the building that houses the Evangeline Theatre and the Bayou Teche Museum was originally built in 1869. The Evangeline Theatre was the Dreyfus Wholesale Grocery Store. In the late 1920s, the store was divided to form Scharff and Elias, and the Steinburg Fur Company. Part of the building was remodeled into a movie house in 1929 and opened its doors on April 19, 1930 with the movie 7th Heaven. After ten years as a theatre, the building was updated into its current art deco style. In 1937, the remaining part of the building was also purchased by Kalil Sliman from Steinburg Fur Company and remodeled it in the same art deco style as the theatre. He opened the newly renovated building as The Sports Center: a bar and café. The Sports Center remained a Main Street landmark until the early 1990s. In the 1960, the theatre closed and sat empty for thirty years until the Sliman family donated it to the city where it was restored back into its original form. Currently the building has many uses such as being available to rent for private functions.

If Walls and Windows Could Talk

In 1870 a fire ravished through the whole block where the theatre is located destroying most of the structures on the block, except for the walls that are still located in the theatre. The large building began as two building but was split in the 1920s. The building that became the actual theatre was given an art deco style façade.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Evangeline Theatre, June 1933

Tickets from the theatre circa 1930

Evangeline Theatre after the renovation

The Old Sports Center

Evangeline Theatre 2012

Voices from the Past

On April 17, 2012, Mr. Teddy Sliman Jr., the son of the original owner Mr. Teddy Sliman Sr., was interviewed over the phone about his fondest memories of the theatre. “The last movie I saw was in 1958, I was eight years old, and it was The Shaggy Dog. The theatre closed soon after. My dad owned the theatre so I go a lot of free stuff and my friends got in cheap, about 10 cents. My favorite candy was Raisinets but they sold a lot of the same candy bars that are sold now a days. One of my fondest memories is when my aunts or mom would drop me off to my dad’s office that was in the theatre.”

References

Bayou Teche Museum, 131 East Main Street New Iberia, Louisiana.

Guidry, Alexis, and Emily Pellerin. Sliman Theater Photographs. Private Collection. Alexis Guidry and Emily Pellerin.

“LA Historic Preservation – National Register of Historic Places Database.” CRT.la.us. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2012.

Sliman, Teddy. Telephone Interview. 17 April 2012.

“Sliman Theater for the Performing Arts: City of New Iberia, Louisiana.” Cityofnewiberia.com.