S. Benedette Street,
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Previous Names: Buie Grand Theatre, Mecca Theatre, Shea Theater
H.A. Buie opened the Buie Grand Theatre in the late-1910’s in downtown Rayville mostly playing motion pictures and hosting a few local events. In 1923, he closed his Buie Grand venue and contemplated opening a skating rink. Based on little evidence, we believe it became the Mecca Theatre in 1925. That theatre gave away a 1927 Chevrolet Landau Coupe, $100 in gold and four diamond rings as a promotion in 1927.
The Mecca Theatre was sold to T.A. Shea’s Valley Amusement Company in July of 1928 which gave the building a refresh and - beginning on August 9, 1928 - a new name as the Shea Theatre. The Shea Theatre opened with Gary Cooper and Fay Wray in “The Legion of the Condemned”. So popular was the previous venue’s presentation of the 1927 World Series live that H.G. Jarnagin purchased a Play-O-Graph to improve the Shea’s World Series simulcast presentation in 1929. The venue continued with silent films and events.
On February 14, 1930, J.R. Moore announced the installation of sound to present talkies starting with William Fox’s “Follies” and the theatre’s next new name. It was christened under the town’s Parish of Richland. The Richland Theatre first closed on July 12, 1931 and offered in a sheriff’s sale as the Depression foiled the business model of the theatre. That sale included the Richland’s seating, Powers 6-B movie projectors with Peerless reflector lamps, a stereopticon player, sound system and organ.
T.A. Shea apparently was the buyer of his former venue. Shea returned to relight the Richland Theatre again on September 12, 1931 equipped with sound. It launched with a Buck Jones western. Unfortunately, Shea found out that the experience of the previous operator held true. Shea’s Richland Theatre ended up in a second sheriff’s sale in February of 1933 ending its run.
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