Historic lakeside hall burns down in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - A half century-old banquet hall, built of
wood on the shores of Cross Lake, has been destroyed by fire.
"After 50 years being there, when it all goes up overnight, it
is a great loss," said Louis Cordaro of Shreveport, president and
manager of the Progressive Men's Club.
The hall, which caught fire on Saturday and burned for hours,
had been used for numerous private and community social events,
including proms and wedding receptions.
The club that built it has been around since 1906, when it was
founded by Sicilian immigrants as the Italia Moderna Society. The
grouped changed its name in 1943 to distance itself from the Axis
Powers during World War II.
Cordaro said the building is a complete loss and that
authorities were unsure what caused the blaze.
According to building diagrams, the blaze appears to have
originated in the kitchen area, Crawford said. The cause remained
under investigation Sunday.
The building burned quickly, with flames bright enough to be
seen from across the lake, Shreveport Fire Department spokesman
Brian Crawford said.
More than a dozen units were at the scene before the blaze was
under control.
Cordaro said he hopes the hall will be rebuilt but does not know
if that will happen.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)