126 Iberia Street 337.364.6114
Copyright 2014 @www.ipaltheater.com
PO Box 14105
New Iberia, LA 70562
The theater was equipped with the latest super simplex projectors and 2 RCA high fidelity sound machines. The original owners were Julius Scharff and Elias Elias, which is where the Essanee got it's name (S&E), for the first letters to their last names. It opened to hundreds in November 1937. The theater closed in 1980 and sat dormant for years.
Then local businessman Freddie Decourt began plans for it to become a museum. At the same time IPAL was looking for a new, permanent, home. Mr. Decourt, graciously decided to sell the building to IPAL. Thanks to the Bayou Art Gallery, which closed and divided up the moneis from sale of its building among area charities, several thousand dollars was donated to IPAL for the down payment. On October 31, 2001 the building became property of the league.
Then the hard work began, the process of bringing the building up to code. IPAL members joined forces the first weekend in November to start cleaning the seats, washing the walls, and cleaning the bathrooms. Most of the work was done through volunteers and professionals brought in only when needed.
The building contains many of the original theater seats, which had the gum on them
to prove it. Scraping off fifty years of gum was not an easy task. Also, the seats
had to be oiled which was a slow task. Every theater needs a stage, and the Essanee's
original stage was way too small and not functional for IPAL's needs. Work began
on a large, beautiful hard wood floored stage. It was quite an undertaking. The original
sloped floor in the building was kept, and the stage had to be constructed on that
very floor. Along with the stage on the to-
Today, though there is still work left, IPAL has brought the Essanee back to its former glory.
The building, at 126 Iberia Street, is one of the restored jewels of the historic district. It can seat up to 200 people to be entertained by one of IPALs plays, talent shows or another IPAL production