After a round of golf at Audubon, we ate at Cooter Brown’s where South Carrollton meets the river. When leaving, we noticed two concrete structures in the neutral ground, which we had never noticed or could identify. The one closest to St Charles Avenue looked like a mini Arc de Triomph. Can you help us with this? John P. Rome (Destrehan La.)
In late 1895, Frederic Fischer, a prominent lumber merchant and former Carrollton fire chief, died. Several months later, the City Council passed an ordinance calling for the creation of Fischer Place, a small park extending down the middle of South Carrollton between St. Charles and Leake Avenues.
Fischer Place was to be a local beauty spot, but the Illinois Central Railroad installed switching tracks there, ruining the park. Around the turn of the century, neighborhood women, many members of the Louisiana Sunshine Society, a benevolent association, fought to have the tracks removed and suggested the reclaimed park be named Sunshine Park. The project languished and the new name was not made official until 1915. The small park was among the first public spaces to be maintained by an all-female commission.
An elaborate iron fountain, rimmed in blue marble, still stands as the park’s centerpiece. Long neglected and stripped of its mechanism, the Sunshine Park fountain is currently in a disgraceful condition. A municipal plaque from a 1986 park renovation both misspells Mr. Fischer’s surname and fails to mention Sunshine Park.
Sometime back, you received an inquiry about the location of a neighborhood movie theater possibly one which was part of the United Group. Part of the question, I believe, had to do with the relocation of the theater and where the theater was originally located. Your response, as I recall, was that you could find no information about the original location of the theater.
As a child about 1948 at the age of 10, I made many visits to the home of a childhood friend who lived on Robert Street. On the way, I would pass a very large abandoned movie theater located on one of three cross streets between Robert and Upperline. I am not sure which cross street housed the theater, but it had to be one of the following streets: LaSalle, Liberty or Saratoga, and was in the middle of the block on the lake side.
I was wondering, perhaps, if this was the theater referenced about your inquiry above and also what information you may have on the abandoned theater. Greg Moise (Houma, LA)
In December 2014, John Hecker asked about an abandoned movie theater in the general vicinity of Napoleon, St. Charles, Upperline and Daneel. In the 1950s, he and his buddies explored the unsecured property, which he thought may have been at Valence and Baronne. Using his directions, I was unable to positively identify the theater and speculated it may have been the Fine Arts (later known as the Booker T) at 1735 Constantinople.
Thanks to your directions, I now believe both of you are recalling the Fern, an old silent-era movie house that opened in 1917 at the corner of Robert and South Franklin (later Loyola Street). Solomon Peritz and Joseph C. Yochim first owned the Fern, which changed hands only a few years after it opened. Its first film, accompanied by a Photoplayer sound effects console, was “Her Greatest Love,” starring Theda Bara. The Fern, which survived into the sound era, appears to have closed around the mid 1940s when its manager, Harry Ehrlich, long associated with the United theater chain, retired.
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