LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Landmarks like Ball’s Auditorium and the Arcade are officially marked as locations “where history took place.”
Ball’s Auditorium, located at 1414 St. John St., is the first location to become a certified “Lost Landmark.” The auditorium was a venue where after WW2, Reggie Ball, opened up a trade school for African-Americans returning from war. He provided training through the GI bill. The training processes of the trade school ended in the 50s and the auditorium was transformed into a place for performers. The auditorium saw the likes of Ray Charles, Sam Cook, and Odis Redding. Today the auditorium stands as a reminder of the training and entertainment that took place in Southwest Louisiana.
The Arcade Theatre, located at 822 Ryan St., is another historical building of entertainment in Southwest Louisiana. The theatre hosted entertainment legends like Houdini, the Barrymores, and the St. Louis Symphony. Due to laws restricting performances in Texas on a Sunday, many performers would travel from their Saturday shows in New Orleans to perform at The Arcade. Many SWLA residents would also perform at the theatre, although not normally on a Sunday as they would have to compete with powerhouses.
Unfortunately, the Arcade is no longer standing. It was in the process of being restored when a fire broke out on the stage in 1985 and the entire building burned to the ground.
For more information visit calcasieupreservation.com, or visit the historical and genealogical library in the Carnegie branch of downtown Lake Charles.