Walter Pierce

Downtown demolition: LBA drive-thru goes way of the dodo

by Walter Pierce

That crunching-grating-crushing sound emanating from downtown Lafayette is the death knell ringing for the old LBA Savings Bank drive-thru on Vermilion Street. The structure’s demise is the first step in an ambitious project to add a 300-seat theatre complex as part of an expanded Acadiana Center for the Arts.

The new structure will feature all the amenities of a world-class performance space, including high-definition audio/visual systems, a flexible floor plan to accommodate myriad types of performance art, studio-quality “silent” air conditioning and a design meant to maximize acoustics. It will fill the entire area currently devoted to ACA parking and the soon-to-be demolished LBA drive-thru, which stands next to the old Lafayette Hardware Store building at the corner of Vermilion and Buchanan streets. ACA Executive Director Gerd Wuestemann says the demolition process is delicate because the brick and steel drive-thru and wood-frame Lafayette Hardware building stand literally inches apart.

Currently the demolition crew is working its way toward the rear of the drive-thru where a Robert Wiggs sculpture, once part of a fountain, awaits removal. The sculpture will be relocated to the traffic island on Congress Street between the IberiaBank building and the Lafayette Public Library. For details on the sculpture’s salvation, read the INDsider story published March 31.