About the Essanee
The History of this Old Theatre
The Essanee Theater opened on November 23, 1937. Owned by Julius Scharff and Elias Elias, the theater took its name from the first two letters of their last names: S & E. Designed in the Art Deco style by Owen Southwell, the state of the art theater featured the latest Super Simplex projectors, and two RCA high fidelity sound machines. The building was “air conditioned for both winter and summer, thermostatically heated, cooled by refrigeration.” The Essanee showed its last feature film, City Limits, on November 28, 1985. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew severely damaged the roof and interior. In 2000, local businessman Freddie DeCourt purchased the Essanee and stabilized the building with the hope of turning it into a museum. At that time, Iberia Performing Arts League (IPAL) was looking for a permanent home. On October 31, 2001, the theater was purchased by IPAL. IPAL continues restoration of the building even as it presents performances year round. It really is...
“Broadway on the Bayou.”