Let the construction begin

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 26, 2007

FERRIDAY — The Arcade Theater, built in 1926, burned in the 1950s and demolished in January, officially began to rise from its ashes today.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the second incarnation of the theater, which will be a part of the Delta Music Museum, was Wednesday.

The master of ceremonies for the groundbreaking was Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne.

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“I want you to know how special this museum is to the whole state,” Dardenne said. “We decided to locate it here in Ferriday to attract people to this area and to Delta music.”

The rebuilt Arcade will be constructed by Jan. 1 of next year, Dardenne said.

“It will be happy New Year,” he said.

When time came to break the ground, the groundbreaking delegation — which included former Secretary of State Al Ater, State Rep. Andy Anders, Secretary of Wildlife and Fisheries Bryant Hammett, Mayor Gene Allen, Delta Music Museum Director Judith Bingham, Clerk of Court Clyde Webber, architect Sam Short, engineer Jim Hankins, Sheriff Randy Maxwell and Delta Music Museum Foundation member Rena Pitts — all took up golden shovels and turned over a symbolic first shovelful.

Some construction on the site has been underway for about three weeks.

The reconstructed theater will seat 350 people, and will be used to host concerts, community events, museum exhibits, and possibly will be used to show old movies, Bingham said.

The plans for the building are to have it resemble the original Arcade as much as possible, Bingham said.

Construction of the project, funded by the Secretary of State’s Office, is estimated to cost about $1 million.

“I want to thank the Secretary of State’s Office for continually working with Ferriday to make it the progressive city it is,” Allen said.

Bingham said she was excited to see the project underway.

“This is something we (at the museum) and the community has long looked forward to,” she said.