Pensacola Historic District: Saenger Theatre

Do you have a Saenger Theatre in your town? Julian and Abel Saenger of New Orleans founded the business with their first theatre in Sheveport in 1911. New Orleans architect Emile Weil designed several of them including the one on South Palafox street in Pensacola.

It opened in 1925 with 2,250 seats offering “perfect vision afforded from any part of house” (Pensacola News Journal, March 29, 1925, p. 18). The Spanish Baroque architecture was constructed by builder C. H. Turner with tile work by Southern Mosaic Tile Company from Atlanta. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and restored and reopened in 1981.

The new Saenger Theatre has been built in a spacious mood… Lights take on histrionic abilities…the Saenger lights are brilliant actors.

The lighting was described as “the great flash of splendor flooding the theatre’s front” and “gorgeous chandeliers of bronze, art glass, crystal and prism” casting a soft glow over the auditorium. The seats were upholstered in gray leather, aisles covered with velvet, green and gold draperies, with ornamental plaster on walls and ceilings.

The buildings on either side of the 1925 theatre are c. 1880 and c. 1881 Masonry Vernacular according to Cynthia Catellier and Desiree Estabrook (2016 NHRP nomination for the historic district.

This entry was posted in Florida, Historic Downtowns, Spanish Baroque, Theatres and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Pensacola Historic District: Saenger Theatre

  1. Betty says:

    Love it! I like how you quote the newspaper articles which date back to the building’s opening. Doing so adds to the historical flavor!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. janebye says:

    Very cool looking theater. I looked online and according to the list of theaters on the Saenger website, there was one in Dallas called the Old Mill Theater in Oak Cliff but it closed in 1935. It was then a Rialto and demolished in 1959 to make room for a parking lot. Boo.

    Liked by 1 person

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