Then (1982): Now:
How ACTS Got One Reid Street…
In 1982, the director saw this building while out searching for a location for ACTS. It was a matter of finding out how the building could possibly house all the needs which ACTS continues to have.
The director brought the board down to see the building one at a time between August and September 1982. While performing on the McNeese Auditorium stage with FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, the theatre decided that it would be lucky to have the space for its use. By this time ACTS has had three women presidents, Pat Serice, Dottie Parmiter, and Billie Woodard. ACTS had been using spaces on Third Avenue, Ryan Street, and the Theriot’s building, which was full of debris, broken doors, and trash from not having been used by anyone other than a rock group for rehearsals.
A small group of persons consisting of the director, Courtney Stein, Dottie Parmiter, Krause Wilson, Ruth Peloquin, Tracey Peloquin, Paige Harkins and a few others cleared the building of debris, washed the walls and got the building ready for others to see. In June of 1983, the theatre held its Homestead ACTS where the theatre was open to the general public for viewing.
About One Reid Street…
The theatre was built in 1903, from all accounts and research. Sammy Bono, a long-ago city councilman whose family lived on the corner just east of the theatre, recalled it, the street, the businesses, and the people who lived here when he was growing up. Railroad Avenue was the main street in town, and the movie was a major factor in entertainment. He remembered the grocery store on the corner attached to the building, the clothing stores east of the theatre, and the Sanitary Bakery west of the theatre where bread, cookies, and cakes were baked and sold during a time when I-10 had not cut off the upper portions of Kirkman, Reid, Moss, Ford, and Louisiana Avenue from the southern parts. The streets ran from 12th Street to the railroad tracks, continuously.
When sound was introduced to the movies, the Louisianne, as it was called then, converted to that technology. In the Thirties, the movie house became The Delta which it remained except for a very brief time in the early eighties prior to it being purchased for ACTS’ use.
The stage was built over three nights by former ACTS board presidents in preparation for the opening of the first fully staged production in the building, SCROOGE. The crew was straw-bossed by Mary June Malus, an original founding member. On the building crew were Gus Quinn, Jr., Harold Backrach, Perry Dickinson, Donald Saulnier, Daniel Ieyoub, and many others who labored to have the space ready. A little later, MASS APPEAL was staged at the new theatre, and the following year regular seasons began with the first production of SCROOGE. Robert Kidder was responsible for putting the seats in place in the theatre. They had been acquired from the Paramount Theatre on Ryan Street when it closed. For its first two productions in the theatre, metal folding chairs were used, and were they cold!
The theatre building, the side grocery store, and a clothing store down the street east of the theatre composed the original property purchases made by Mr. Pettaway and Mr. Saulnier.
Pettaway quickly bought the land on the west side adjacent to the theatre to allow easy access to the building from the back parking lot and had the fences put into place around the property.
Currently, the ACTS Theatre building is the only theatre structure built prior to World War II still standing; most other ones have been ‘remodeled’ into parking lots! World War I troops passed this theatre in trains on their way to France. World War II military passed the theatre in trains on their way to both Japan and Germany. And those going to Korea and Vietnam also passed this way. Since that time, train travel has become very limited, but they do still pass ACTS.
The theatre is historic: over one hundred years old. It was meaningful to the city as a movie house, and has become a place for live theatre entertainment since l982.
ACTS only needs building funding, assistance, grants, stipends, to realize the great potential the structures hold as a theatre center.
Growing Up Next to One Reid Street:
by: Bob Jines, former ACTS Board Member
The theatre was built between 1917 and 1921, combining 2 lot
locations on Railroad Ave. The exact date is hard to pin down. In 1917 there was no
movie/theater at the location and in 1921 the movie house (obviously silent) existed.
Prior to that the space occupied by the current theater existed as two lots, which had
provided location for various stores (wooden) or at times
were vacant. This information was gathered from Lake Charles City Directories (at the Genealogy Library) for this period.
Also the corner building on the east side of the building
was not a grocery store, but was furniture store. That building became the Central Grocery in
the 1950's and existed as such for only a year or two. The sign is still on the side of the
building. There may have been grocery across Reid Street at one time, but I would have to check
My grandparents owned and ran the Pelican Meat Market on the
west side of the theater from about 1920 to 1956. Their living quarters were attached on
the rear of their market and I was born in their back bedroom. Grandma and grandpa were the first business
to offer boudin for sale in Lake Charles (and the best hogshead cheese).( It
may have been the first commercial boudin in Louisiana, since most Cajuns made
They also sold things which would interest movie goers like
cold drinks, hamburgers (5 cents/ 10 cents if you wanted lettuce, tomatoes and
onions), hot dogs, dried shrimp, yeast cakes, candy and ice cream. There were a
few groceries and cigarettes, sort of like the convenience stores of today.
I can remember roasting and selling peanuts outside the
front of the store from a peanut poacher made by grandpa. I also dished ice cream and pulled
soft drinks out of the cold water cooler that grandpa made. I helped a little with the
hamburgers, but not much.
Our family eventually abandoned the building to the city,
since no one was buying in that area.
The building had to be demolished for the city to accept the
property. Some walls have remained up because they were too strong to be
affordably knocked down. They are still there today. Grandpa had mixed the
cement by hand and poured it into forms. The location was acquired by ACTS from
the city, but I do not know when.