Charles Cinema brings back memories

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA.(KPLC) -It's a landmark that brings back memories for many if not most long time residents of Lake Charles-- the Charles Cinema. When it was first built it was what  local preservationist AdleyCormier calls the "first suburban style movie house" and an early version of a multi-plex movie house with three screens showing three different movies at one time.

Marc Lowenthal's family owned it.  He remembers, "Anything that was big at the box office was played here. I think that one of the first movies I saw here was the original "Rocky."

The place brings back a lot of fond memories for many people who grew up in Lake Charles. Just try to imagine all the important dates that happened here. Admits Realtor Charlie Snead, "I can say that I did (have some important dates), I did."  Reporter: "Anything that you want to share?"  Says Charlie, "Well, that's going to be a personal matter."

Lowenthal says, "There's been a lot of people here who have spent many a romantic night in the theater."

Says Snead, "I have great memories of coming to the building when I was a youngster, in high school. I can remember seeing the Exorcist here and how scared I was after it was all over with."

It's been closed since Hurricane Rita. Time and nature have not been kind. "It's been hit by a tornado. It's been home to vagrants. So after asbestos abatement and other prep work, down it will go," said Lowenthal.

The property is listed with Charlie Snead at Flavin Realty and is selling for $1.5 million "I see it with many utilizations for McNeese, apartment complexes, or some sort of restaurant," said Snead.   Lowenthal agrees: "We're so close to the university, there's any number of things that the property could be used for."

So, someday soon there may be a new development hear, that may likely flourish given the prime location yet-- for some-- the memories of Charles Cinema won't easily be swept away. "Sorry to see the building go," says Lowenthal.

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