Rayne historical building sold
By Paul Kedinger
LSN STAFF WRITER
RAYNE – A new chapter is being written in the history of one of Rayne’s most recognized places of business with the sale of the Mervine Kahn Building at the corner of Louisiana Avenue and Polk Street.
Peter Comeaux, who has operated an antique business in the famed, general business building for the past 19 years, has sold the building to local businessman Eric Thomas on December 19.
Comeaux revealed that many of the antiques have been placed in storage and, at this time, his future business plans are uncertain. He admits, however, that the antique business “is in my blood” after 30 years in education. “I don’t think I can get out of it,” he says.
Comeaux and his wife, Mary Annette, however are taking an extended break from business and will be visiting his son, Jody, who is serving in the U.S. Navy in Spain for the next three months.
Comeaux acknowledged the store which contains 30,000 square feet on three floors was “a mall before malls became popular,” offering customers everything from groceries, hardware supplies, clothing and a vast array of everyday products.
Thomas is currently in the process of taking the building back to its bare walls and creating a reception center for such events as rehearsal dinners, weddings and private catering events. He added that a private honeymoon suite will be completed on the second floor.
Thomas projects the refurbishing work will take at least six months.
Born in Plaquemine, La. in Iberville Parish, Mr. Kahn came to Rayne more or less by accident. Enroute to Beaumont by train in the years when Poppouville was being moved to the present site of Rayne, he entered into a conversation with a booster of the new town of Rayne Station and decided to get off and see a little of Rayne. He never left and lived to found a dynasty in the mercantile business, the original, small store being purchased from another pioneer, A.S. Chappuis. This modest investment grew into a five-building row housing magnificent ladies’ and men’s exclusive departments, hardware, drapery, grocery and other departments.
Prior to their 1884 venture into business in Rayne, partners Michael Schmulen and Mervine Kahn had operated a small store in the Skelly Plantation in Glencoe, La. after signing a simple sheet of lined tablet paper, with no witnesses, no notary public, the two friends agreed to enter a partnership. Schumlen contributed $3,000, and Kahn offered $2,000. Both agreed to survive on “an equal share of the profit or share equally on any losses.” Just two years later, Mr. Shmulen having died, Mervine Kahn became sole owner of the firm. He paid Schmulen’s widow $3,097, of which $1,000 has been paid in ready money.
The sale price in the latest transfer of ownership was not revealed.