Saenger Theater - Biloxi, MS
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 30° 23.834 W 088° 53.421
16R E 318394 N 3364319
Quick Description: The Saenger Theater opened in 1929, just 2 blocks north of the OST. Today it has been renovated and is an important component of the arts scene in Biloxi.
Location: Mississippi, United States
Date Posted: 4/19/2016 12:48:50 PM
Waymark Code: WMQZG9
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member the federation
Views: 4

Long Description:
The Saenger Theater would have drawn folks from the small Missisippi towns up and down this part of the OST to Biloxi for the latest "talking pictures" shown in a grand movie palace, or . . . maybe a wedding?

Known as "The Gem of the Gulf Coast," the Saenger was an important local and tourist attraction from its opening in 1928 through the 1970s, when it was deeded to the City as a performance space.

From the Saenger Amusements website: (visit link)

"Formal announcement was made April 2nd, 1928 of the planned construction of the Bilioxi Saenger Theatre. Saenger Theatres, Inc was to lease & operate a theater to be built by Noreta Lopez Yerger upon her property on Reynoir Street, in the rear of the Strand Theatre. Roy A. Benjamin of Jacksonville, Florida was engaged as architect; Arthur Perry of Jacksonville as contractor.

The theater held 1500 seats (1,020 on the main floor & 480 above), stage & dressing room facilities to accommodate large travelling shows & vaudeville, and Vitaphone & Movietone equipment for presentation of talkie motion pictures. Draperies, carpets & other interior furnishings were obtained from Maison Blanche in New Orleans.

Opening day:
Tuesday, January 13, 1930 with Paramount's first all-talking movie "Interference", & a number of Vitaphone short features.


Gulfport Girl and Biloxi Boy United in Novel Ceremony at New Saenger Showhouse.

Miss Mavis Davis of Gulfport and Robert Thomas Andrews of Biloxi were united in marriage upon the stage of the Saenger theater at Biloxi Monday night before an audience that filled the theater. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. P. S. Dodge, pastor of the Baptist church in Gulfport.

The wedding party marched down one aisle of the theater onto the stage.

The bride is a well known young Gulfport woman and the bridegroom an employee of the Publix theater in Biloxi.'

'Monday, August 18, 1930 -
Mavis Davis of Gulfport, Mississippi marries the Biloxi Saenger Theatre's projectionist Robert Andrews on the theatre's stage.

Some show business marriages last just a short while - they were divorced after only a couple of years.

Some show business marriages last a long time - Andrews, the projectionist who ran the first movie at the Biloxi Saenger Theatre, remained with the theatre as projectionist for 47 years.'

. . . (A story continues to circulate around the gulf coast states that, during hurricane Camille, the chandelier from the Biloxi Saenger was washed up in Florida, & was later returned to the theatre. It's hardly worth finding out how much of it's true, since the prevalence itself of the legend is far more interesting.)

In November of 1974, the theatre suffered a fire when a transformer on the roof burned. The fire obliterated the vestiges of Roy A. Benjamin's original ceiling hidden behind the lowered ceiling & ended the theatre's incarnation as a first-run movie house.

On January 10, 1975, ABC Theatres (Saenger's successor) deeded the building to the City of Biloxi. The "Friends of the Saenger" group was organized; renovation work was done in 1975 & 1984. In April 1998, the Mississippi Historic Trust presented an Award of Merit as an excellent example of plan implementation to the Biloxi Saenger Sign Project's restoration of the theatre's historic neon sign. Preservation & restoration projects continue at the theatre.

The Biloxi Saenger has been in continuous use since its construction. It is home to to several local performing arts organizations: JAMO productions, KNS Theatre, Gulf Coast Opera Theatre, & Gulf Coast Sympony Orchestra. Regular lessees include dance & other performance recitalists, & community theatre groups. The audiitorium's pleasant size & ornate prosecenium decoration make it a wonderful venue for the audience; the addition of new loading & dressing facilities behind the proscenium makes production of shows much easier. The Biloxi Saenger is a vital part of the energetic theatrical community around Biloxi, and the object of a great deal of civic affection."
Submission Criteria:

Period Culture

Website with More Information: [Web Link]

Address of Waymark:
170 Reynoir St
Biloxi, MS USA

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Benchmark Blasterz visited Saenger Theater - Biloxi, MS 4/19/2016 Benchmark Blasterz visited it