A Monument Devoted To The Best In Music, Photoplay And Theatrical Arts
November 8, 2012 3:40 AM   Subscribe

"In 1911, the Saenger Brothers, Abe and Julian, operators of a drug business at Louisiana and Milam streets, decided to enter the amusement field. They were impressed with [Shreveport movie theatre operator E.V. Richards] and induced him to join them in their new field of endeavor ... In 1912 the Saenger Amusement Company was organized with Saenger Brothers, E.V. Richards and L. M. Ash as the stockholders. Richards continued as manager and an expansion policy was adopted which linked Texarkana, Monroe and Alexandria with Shreveport and thus formed the first Saenger chain of theatres in this area ... The company moved to New Orleans where the Strand Theatre, a building of magnificent modernity, was formally opened on July 4, 1917 ... In 1924 the company again inhaled deeply before exhaling a new record of expansion that established branches in 12 southern states. In 1926 and '27 further expansion took the company into Cuba, Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica. During the expansion peak 320 theatres were involved in the holding company." Sadly, few remain.

"We sell tickets to theaters, not movies." - Marcus Loew, a competitor

Many of the theatres were designed by Emile Weil, in the Atmospheric style so popular at the time.

Some are restored and operating: Hattiesburg, Pensacola, New Orleans, and others.
posted by the man of twists and turns (8 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If that's Louisiana and Milam streets in downtown Houston, well, those two don't intersect. They've run parallel and blocks apart.
Neat theaters!
posted by entropos at 4:05 AM on November 8, 2012

I think the post is referring to Louisiana and Milam in Shreveport, LA, where those streets do in fact intersect.
posted by seltsam at 4:16 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm amazed that The Pas doesn't promote The Lido as a tourist attraction.
posted by tel3path at 4:57 AM on November 8, 2012

I've been on the roof of the Saenger in Hattiesburg - a friend was the resident dramaturg/manager there before he moved away. We used to hook up the sound system for karaoke nights with friends and then climb to the roof to watch the stars.

It's gorgeous and immensely echo-quiet; old feeling in a way that almost nothing is where I live now, in Seoul.
posted by nile_red at 6:50 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Love the Saenger in Hattiesburg. I grew up in Hattiesburg, and as a teen performed in a couple community theatre productions at the Saenger (Life with Father was one -- I played Clarence). In my twenties I was in a band (Quit Hitting Me) that played at a downtown music festival (WagFest) that included the Saenger, where we got to perform. It's a hauntingly beautiful, mysterious old theatre and a community treasure. Hattiesburg's old downtown is altogether rather magical in a early 20th Century, Southern Gothic kind of way. Check out the art deco post office right next door to the Saenger.
posted by February28 at 7:07 AM on November 8, 2012

entropos, I thought the same thing! /native Houstonian

Earlier this year I saw a lovely exhibit at one of the local libraries about historical movie theaters in Austin. These buildings are so lovely and many of them are gone; I'm glad to see some of the ones mentioned in this post are still standing and getting refurbished.
posted by immlass at 8:08 AM on November 8, 2012

Their outdoor theater in Jamaica was lovely.
posted by Spatch at 11:56 AM on November 8, 2012

Sadly, the New Orleans Saenger is not yet operating; it hasn't been since Katrina. The opening date keeps getting pushed back, and right now they're saying sometime in 2013. My fingers are crossed!
posted by a hat out of hell at 2:20 PM on November 8, 2012

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