President, Saenger Theatres, Inc. & Saenger Amusement Co.
History of Shreveport and Shreveport Builders,
Mary Lilla McLure & Jolley Edward Howe, 1937 -
|While visiting that sacred, silent spot known as
Hebrew Rest, one is reminded of many notables who have
walked this way and in so doing have left ineradicable
marks of their passage. Among those well-known, well-liked
departed citizens, none is better remembered than Julian
Henri Saenger, a native of Norfolk, Va., famous through
life for his cheery smile, glad handclasp and positive
pleasure in helping his fellow-man.
In 1890, with his father, Rabbi Israel Saenger, for many years head of the B'Nai Zion congregation, he came to Shreveport, where two-thirds of his life was spent fulfilling his destiny. His commercial career commenced with a drug clerkship for August Bogel, one of Shreveport's pioneer druggists, located in the Bogel building at the corner of Texas and Market streets.
Five years later, having learned much about the local needs in drugs and drug sundries, he and his brother, A. D. Saenger, established the Saenger Drug Company, located at Louisiana and Milam streets. The firm and location remains unchanged today, the business now being owned and operated by A. D. Saenger. The Saenger brothers were the first to recognize the need for an "open all night" drug store and provided a full 24-hour service for their large clientele.
In 1911 he organized the Saenger Amusement Company and built the Saenger Theatre. E. V. Richards, a popular young showman of that early era, was established as manager, and a good one he proved to be, ranking as one of the outstanding executives in the motion picture industry.
There followed a year devoted to booking vaudeville. Then he caught a vision of the future magnitude of the motion picture, and what it would ultimately mean to the amusement world. Acting upon this vision he definitely discontinued the vaudeville bookings to become Shreveport's exclusive exponent of the movies. The Saenger Theatre became the first link in a chain of picture theatres that eventually extended throughout the Southern States and into Cuba, Jamaca, Panama and Puerto Rico.
Julian Saenger was president of the Saenger Amusement Company, organized in 1911. He was president of the Saenger Company reorganized in 1912.
He was also president of theSaenger-Ehrlich Enterprises which built the beautiful Strand Theatre at Crockett and Louisiana streets in 1925, when road shows were still in full flower. Many theatrical notables have trod the boards of the Strand as a result of his negotiations with booking agencies.
In 1929, a year when everyone discussed even small matters in large figures, the Saenger Company relinquished its vast holdings to the Paramount Company, Inc., for a figure in excess of ten million dollars. That was a day when Julian Saenger, as president, made financial history.
From that day until the sudden termination of his life in New Orleans, February 6, 1932, he was a figure of outstanding prominence in the movie industry. He sat in the councils of producers, both in New York and Hollywood. He was a member of the most exclusive clubs in both production centers. With all his financial and social success he never lost the geniality so well marked in the early days of what was to appear like a catapulting career. He not only made friends with remarkable ease, but retained them in like manner.