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Saenger Theater

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1924, Emile Weil. W. 2nd Ave. at Pine St.

A symbol of Pine Bluff’s early-twentieth-century heyday, this theater is just across Pine Street from the one-city-block modern Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center (JE3). Built by the Saenger Amusement Company, formed in 1911 by brothers Julian H. and A. D. Saenger in Shreveport, Louisiana, it is one of the more elaborate of the approximately three hundred theaters in their chain. The exterior, a blend of Colonial and Classical Revival, has its wall surfaces articulated with pilasters, white cast-stone details, and round-arched window bays with rectangular windows and round-arched decorative panels above them. Ornament includes niches filled with urns, plaques with low-relief busts, and swags, and between the upper level’s small rectangular windows are diamond-shaped cast-stone inserts. A rectangular marquee shelters the triple entrance, though the doors are replacements of 1929. Inside, Weil’s decoration was Florentine, with extensive white plaster ornamentation, a formula he used for other theaters. However, this theater was redecorated in 1937 and again later, so it does not reflect his work. The interior accommodated 1,500 in segregated seating, with African Americans in the upper balcony; they entered the building by a side door. Weil’s design for the theater is similar to the one he created in 1926 for the Saenger brothers in Beaumont, Texas. This Pine Bluff theater closed in 1975 and is now owned by a nonprofit.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors
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Citation

Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "Saenger Theater", [Pine Bluff, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AR-01-JE2.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 260-260.

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