133 East Main Street
Every Building Has a Story
Once a clear participant in early New Iberian social life, the humble building located on 133 East Main Street has become no more than a desolate reminder of what once was; however, it will again become part of society as it is soon to house the newer half of the Bayou Teche Museum. Built in 1892 on a piece of land that was purchased from Leonidas Serret, this building has been occupied by several different businesses over the past century. Among these businesses were Mrs. Scharff and Son’s Clothing, The Cozy Café, Sears, Roebuck and Co., Steinberg’s Furs, and a place that was very beloved to the local people called Gary’s Drug Store.
This building, currently referred to as the Bayou Teche Museum Annex or the Davis Building, is now owned by the City of New Iberia, but as history would have it, the building itself possesses quite a track record consisting of several different owners throughout past years. According to the earliest documentation found, the building was auctioned off in 1931 and sold to Nathan Davis for a sum of $7000. Nathan Davis then sold the property to Dr. Paul A. LeBourgeios for $9750 in April of 1936. The property remained in the Lebourgeios family for over sixty years, and after experiencing a couple of partitions and successions, the building was sold to Elda Faye Viator Gray for $42,000 in 1998. After seizing Gray’s property, Midsouth Bank sold the building to Broussard Metz L.L.C for $129,000 in July of 2010. The building then found itself in the hands of the New Iberia Museum Foundation, Inc. who then, thanks to the generosity of several local citizens, donated the building to the City of New Iberia and named it The Donald “Doc” Voorhies wing of the Bayou Teche Museum.
If Walls and Windows Could Talk
This building displays some touches of the Italianate Style. Four fanlights sit atop two French doors and two windows containing one light each. The upper façade is composed of brickwork and separated by four six light windows. The second story and pediment brickwork is probably the finest extant example of the artistry of Aristide and Alfred Etie.
A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words
Voices from the Past and Present
The following questions are from a May 2012 interview conducted with lifelong citizen of New Iberia, Charlene Viator Guillot.
Question – What businesses do you remember occupying the building?
Answer – “Gary’s Drug Store and Sears”
Question – What do you remember about Gary’s Drug Store?
Answer – “I remember them having a soda fountain. They had sodas with cream inside of them which was very popular then, and now, I can’t even find that anywhere. But it wasn’t a cold drink; they had a machine that made it all together. Like a thin malt.”
Question – What can you tell us about the transition from Gary’s to Sears?
Answer – “About four years before I graduated in ’59, Gary’s had moved to its more recent location by the Colonial theatre in front of the old city hall and old city jail. A high class private club called Petrocanes was located in the upstairs part of the new Gary’s.”
Question – What significance did Sears have to you?
Answer – “I remember ordering from a Sears catalog and going to the store to pick it up. The store had many catalogs with attendants waiting for you to select what you wanted. After you order, you would return home and wait for a notice that your package had arrived; there were revolving slots arranged alphabetically where you would find your package.”
Question – What do you remember about the people who worked there?
Answer – “I remember a Mrs. McCullogh; she was the manager. I also remember “Pa-wee” who was a relative of my brother-in-law.”
Question – What do you remember about the surrounding area?
Answer – “That whole area was pretty much the Evangeline Theatre and the parking lot was the Palace Theatre. On side of the Evangeline was the sports center and then the Sears which is your building. The area was very active with men covering the streets and watching the women walk by.”
Conrad, Glen R. New Iberia. Private Collection. Photographs.
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Guillot, Charlene V. Personal Interview. 22 April 2012.
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