2000 List

Saenger Theatre

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City/County/Congressional District: Pine Bluff , Jefferson County ( District 4 )
Location Class: Theater
Year Built: 1924
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (1995)
Status: Endangered

The Saenger Theatre in Pine Bluff opened in 1924 to replace an earlier theatre on the site that had been destroyed in a fire in 1922. Constructed by Saenger Amusement Company from New Orleans, one of more than 350 Saenger Theatres built mostly in the Southeastern United States. The Pine Bluff Saenger is considered one of the first “first class” theaters the chain built. Designed by the company’s chief architect, Emile Weil, for $350,000. For over 50 years, the Saenger was heavily patronized by the locals and was the scene of Pine Bluff’s most glittering social affairs. The theatre held minstrel shows, comedies, lectures, and vaudeville companies. Some of the most famous performers were D.W. Griffith, Norma Talmadge, Tom Mix and his Wonder Horse, John Philip Sousa’s Military Band, Will Rogers, Gene Austin, and more recently, Fay Wray, Ruth Warrick, Teppi Hedren, and Cameron Mathison. It has also been rumored but now confirmed that Houdini performed there.