Saenger Theatres


  Julian H. Saenger , President  
  E. V. Richards, Vice President and General Manager  
  A. D. Saenger, Vice President  
  L. M. Ash, Treasurer  
  E. M. Clarke, Secretary  
  William H. Gueringer, Assistant General Manager  
  Emile Weil, Architect  


- Text from A History of Shreveport and Shreveport Builders, Mary Lilla McLure & Jolley Edward Howe, 1937 -


  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.



Saenger Brothers Drug Store, Shreveport, Louisiana



They built the Saenger Theatre, installed Richards as manager and entered upon a vaudeville policy. After operating the Saenger as a vaudeville house for one year, they decided to abandon that form of entertainment and enter the picture field exclusively.

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.

Then the Saenger Company took over the Fichtenberg enterprises of New Orleans, which included houses in Vicksburg, Houston, Pensacola, and concluded a reorganization.



Saenger Amusement Company building, 1401 Tulane Avenue, New Orleans, ca. 1925-1927

Photograph courtesy of Dr. Barry Henry


  The company moved to New Orleans where the Strand Theatre, a building of magnificent modernity, was formally opened on July 4, 1917.
Company headquarters are still maintained in the Crescent City.

The Saenger company now owned 50 per cent of the reorganized company, the remaining 50 per cent being distributed between Fichtenberg, Richards, Ash and sundry shareholders.




  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.
Truly, in the vernacular, "the movie was going to town!"


Certificate from the stock issue for Saenger Theatres, Inc.

Click on the picture for a larger, printable version in Adobe PDF format.
(File size: 544k)


  Click for a closer look   1927:
A gathering of 125 officials, department heads and managers of Saenger theatres at the Saenger manager's training school at Elmwood Manor, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.


  In the meantime it had become apparent that the old [Shreveport] Grand Opera house was to be condemned at the expiration of the Ehrlich's lease. The Ehrlichs had bought the present site of the [Shreveport] Strand Theatre and later formed the Saenger-Ehrlich enterprises. This company built the present beautiful Strand playhouse, which came under the management of the Saenger Company. In 1929, when the Saenger Company sold to the Paramount, the Strand lease was acquired along with other Saenger Company holdings.  


  Mr. Richards has come to be regarded as one of the "top" men in the motion picture industry in the United States. He was one of the organizers of First National Pictures, Incorporated, now owned by Warner Brothers, and served a director of the company. He was also first executive vice president of Publix Theatres, Inc. At the present time he is a director of Paramount Pictures, Inc.and is president of Saenger Theatres Corporation, Saenger-Ehrlich Enterprises, Inc., of Shreveport, and Paramount-Richards Theatres, Inc., which owns and holds the stock of the original Saenger Company.

In New Orleans, which city he has made his home for a number of years, Mr. Richards owns and operates 20 modern moving picture theatres, and is interested in many picture enterprises in different parts of the country.

Since Saenger Brothers and E.V. Richards launched out upon the "movie" sea, "talking" pictures have been developed and the motion picture industry revolutionized. Like its silent predecessor, the "talkies" infancy was filled with stubbed toes and skinned knees, but it has survived all the ills of youth and now is firmly established.



  In 1933, Paramount went into receivership - as did many - and in 1935 Paramount-Richards Theatres, Inc., re-purchased the Saenger company with its many ramifications. Opportunity knocked and the door was opened, E. V. Richards became president and managing director, a position he still occupies with offices in New Orleans.  


  Just when the cinema first saw the light of day (or should it be said the dark of projection room?); just who unreeled the first film of what, in Shreveport, the researcher has been unable to dig up from the cellar of certified facts. Just what the future holds in store for the greatest amusement enterprise of history, is unpredictable. But when you visit any Shreveport theatre just remember that the Ehrlich Brothers and Saenger Brothers and E. V. Richards where pioneers who blazed the trail upon which was built a broad and brilliantly lighted avenue of amusesment.  



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