Saenger Theatre
Biloxi, Mississippi

170 Reynoir Street
Opened: January 15, 1929
1500 seats
Architect: Roy A. Benjamin, Jacksonville FL

 

 

 

 

 
 

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.

   

 

 

 

 


 

 

MARRY ON STAGE OF
THEATER AT BILOXI


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 per-
formed 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 bride-
groom an employe 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.

 

 


 

  At some time after construction, the theatre's interior ceiling was lowered & replaced with acoustical tile to improve the sound of movies. (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.  

 

  The Saenger Theatre, Biloxi is owned by & booked through the City of Biloxi, Department of Community Development.
The theatre underwent an extensive renovation in 1999, to stabilize & improve the building. Stucco was sandblasted away from the exterior walls (it was found to trap moisture), a new roof was installed, & new air coniditioning units were put in place. The theatre was re-opened in time for the 1999-2000 season.
 

 

Saturday night, December 18, 1999 - Intermission during The Nutcracker

 


Other information:

  Biloxi Saenger Theatre, official web site    
     
  First Day Theatre , reservation & ticketing services for many productions at the Biloxi Saenger Theatre  
  Saenger Theatre of the Performing Arts, information from the Gulf Coast Community Theatre Home Page  
  Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, another theatre of architect Roy A. Benjamin's, built in 1927  

 

 

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Next: the Strand Theatre in Biloxi, Mississippi

 

 

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