Two significant classical landmarks were constructed in 1924 on a contiguous block south of 3rd Street. The Saenger Theater and the Municipal Building (LT35) showcased the civic aspirations of a city entering its sixth decade. The theater was part of the Saenger Amusement Company, which operated a 320-theater empire stretching across eleven southern states and in the Caribbean. The company’s founders, Julian and A. D. Saenger, had completed an extravagant theater in 1923 in their hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, designed by Emile Weil of New Orleans. Weil worked within tighter budgetary constraints here than in the Shreveport flagship. The 1,675-seat brick and cast-stone facility was built at the height of the live theater and vaudeville era and the rapidly maturing film industry. The theater was designed to accommodate both forms of entertainment. Although it was considered one of the most up-to-date theaters in the South, the Saenger was not conceived as an “atmospheric” theater, in the manner of Chicago architect John Eberson, who in the 1920s was designing atmospheric auditoriums for the Interstate Theater chain in Texas’s largest cities. After restoration, the theater was named in honor of the parents of Dallas oilman and philanthropist H. Ross Perot, whose foundation, along with grants from the Texas Historical Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, funded the project.
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Perot Theater (Saenger Theater)
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