NEW IBERIA — Driving on Main Street in New Iberia, you may notice something is missing - the well-known 18 ft. Evangeline sign at the Sliman Theater. Thursday morning, the sign was removed and placed onto a truck for restoration. It's part of the Louisiana Main Street Program. Back in November, ten communities across the state each received a $10,000 grant to revitalize historic buildings.
That includes the Sliman Theater. It's an iconic part of downtown New Iberia, so the stakes are high to get it right.
"Yeah I was concerned, because the age of the sign. Anybody or anything 90 years old, you have to be gentle and cautious when you move it," said Paul Allain, the architect in charge of the project.
The Sliman Theater opened in the 1930s as the Evangeline Theater. It was placed on the National Register for Historic Properties on February 18, 1999.
"We'll miss it, because it is a landmark attached to our historic theater but it'll be back," New Iberia Main street Program Director Jane Braud stated.
The sign was taken to a shop in Bunkie, where every bulb and wire will be changed, restoring it to its former glory and making it easier to maintain.
"I think it had one bulb that worked. I believe there are over 600 bulbs in this light system," Allain added.
Unfortunately the sign hasn't been turned on in awhile, but it was one of the first neon signs in Louisiana.
"So this is an excellent example of one the first neon lighting system you would see on a building," Allain said.
This is only step one of a larger project - Braud says the marquee underneath was damaged after a recent accident and will also be restored.
"When the sign is lit, it just brings pride to anyone who comes downtown," Braud said.
The refurbished sign will be installed by June, and there may even be a (very lit) ceremony.