Saenger Theatre

143 N. Rampart Street,
New Orleans, LA 70112

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Showing 26 - 50 of 131 comments

Bway on February 16, 2010 at 9:23 am

Here’s a photo I took of two streetcars in New Orleans last week, but I noticed I got the marquee of the old Saenger in the background.
The marquee says:


The theater itself looked horrible though. The right side of the building had all the windows boarded up, and plywood covered all the entrance doors. The place looked awful….Hopefully the place gets renovated, as it used to look so good.

Click here for photo

jazzland on November 2, 2009 at 9:25 am

Check out the latest on the Saenger restoration at this site

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meflaherty on September 3, 2009 at 11:11 am

My favorite place to see a movie in the late 50’s to mid 60’s, maybe ever! I remember my granddad taking me to see a Martin & Lewis comedy in the 50’s. Some of my best movie memories of “Barefoot in the Park”, “Sunday In New York” and “This Property Is Condemned” were had at the Saenger. It seems like only yesterday. I thought it was sacrilige when they divided the house, cutting off the balcony and was later thrilled when it was restored.

As a “live” theatre saw “42nd Street”, Liza Minnelli, and Whitney Houston at the Saenger. What a fabulous venue.

jazzland on August 29, 2009 at 1:14 pm

More good news about the Saenger and a color interior photo at this website.

View link

celloman on August 23, 2009 at 12:25 pm

I don’t see any mention of restoring the organ or maybe it’s in with “replacement of ALL mechanical, HVAC, and electrical systems”.???
Who knows?

Bway on August 19, 2009 at 8:19 am

That is excellent news.

jazzland on August 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm

The following appeared as part of a public notice in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on 08-10-09:

The renovation of the Saenger Theatre will be partially funded in the amount of $13,000,000 by HUD CDBG funding (Community Development Block Grant).The proposed improvements consist of the following: “Complete restoration of historic public lobbies, lounges, and the audience chamber. "Reinstallation and restoration of decorative architectural lighting and replication of other interior design elements. "Upgrade and improvement of concession areas and bars. "Relocation of administrative offices, secure count-out rooms, and concessions storage and office space in the existing basement. "Replacement of the existing stage house with a new stage area and fly tower. "Newly designed loading facilities, back-of-house dressing, wardrobe, and crew room function areas to support the stage house. "Replacement of all mechanical, HVAC, and electrical systems. "Modification of the exterior to facilitate the new stage house and new entrance marquees at the three main entrances.

It appears that plans for the renovation are underway.

Bway on April 20, 2009 at 11:40 am

Here’s a photo that shows the Loews State and the Saenger all lit up on Canal St. Some difference from when I was there last year!

View link

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And a daytime image in 1982:
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Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

Ooops, sorry, that should read, “…polluted beyond belief, so every duct, gap, crack, crevise and cranny has to be cleaned and repaired. Anyone who has ever been in the basement of a movie palace knows that could be an incerdibly daunting job.”

Sorry, the boss walked in and distracted me while I was writing.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 19, 2009 at 6:48 am

If memory serves, the Saenger’s stage is only one or two steps down from the sidewalk. Water in that particular area was not nearly as deep as elsewhere in the city. The Saenger was already closed for a renovation and the seats and other equipment had been removed. The organ console was raised to the top of the lift. The water rose to just below the bottom manual keyboard. Aesthetic damage to the theatre was minimal, but the mechanical systems were ruined. And of course, the water was polluted beyond belief, so every duct, gap, Economics of running the facility have been dicey since the disaster: reduced population means fewer possible ticket sales.

The city already owned and operated the Mahalia Jackson Theatre. Though the MJT is far less interesting architecturally, it was also in much better condition, (and let’s face it, MUCH better equipped) so the city concentrated on getting it open first.– (it also needed far fewer repairs.)

There’s a nice article about the MJT here

View link

The agreement between the Saenger’s manangement company and the city of New Orleans seems VERY similar to that worked out between the Memphis Orpheum (q.v.) and the city of Memphis, where the city technically ownes the building (and land) but leases it for a nominal amount back to the management company. (The rent is something like $1 a year.) This has been HUGELY successful in Memphis and we can hope the Saenger does as well.

Bway on January 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm

How bad was the damage from the flood? I know this part of Canal St did flood at least a little bit. The problem with theaters are that they are even further below ground level than street level, as you walk in at street level, and the stage slopes down from there….so a foot of water at street level could be many many feet flooded of the orchestra level, as it’s a few feet downwards towards the stage.

deleted user
[Deleted] on January 18, 2009 at 9:31 am

Will Dunkin: If one wanted to send in a donation towards the restoration of the Morton organ (or, for that matter, the Saenger itself), whom would you send it to?

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

It would be a real shame if the State was demolished. I’m not sure if the Joy is worth worrying about, aside maybe from retaining the facade. Can anyone provide insight on how elaborate or exciting the interior of the Joy was?

spectrum on January 16, 2009 at 9:13 am

It would be great if the Saenger, State Palace, Orpheum and Joy could all be restored! A criotical mass of that size could attract a lot of performances, witness Playhouse Square in Cleveland with their four restored movie palaces.

According to this article:

View link

Both the Saenger and Orpheum are starting to move forward, the Orpheum hopes to have reopened by the end of 2009. Owners of the State Palace and Joy theatres are still deciding whether to renovate, sell or demolish.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on January 14, 2009 at 8:55 am

I heard from John Hiltonsmith on Sunday. He cares for the Saenger’s Robert Morton organ. He had been contacted by the theatre management and told of the renovation plans. They are planning to renovate the organ, however, details, funding etc are not yet finalized. They indicated that he would be “kept in the loop.”

jazzland on January 14, 2009 at 8:10 am

It looks as if the Saenger Theatre will be restored and reopened in 2001 I hope it works out. This link

View link

Should bring you to the story in the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Leow2006 on October 29, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Let’s just hope they restore it back to how it originally looked, and restore the 1920s marquee.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on October 29, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I tend to doubt that it will go. It is more likely it will sit for some time while all the factors in play work themselves out.

Leow2006 on October 29, 2008 at 1:37 pm

What state is the Saenger currently in now? Have they begun the restoration? it would be a crying shame to see this building go.

jazzland on May 22, 2008 at 6:14 am

This is an interior view of the Saenger Theatre taken in the 1950's
View link

Bway on April 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

Thanks so much for this update jazzland. Please update us further if you hear more.

jazzland on April 3, 2008 at 6:31 am

The Saenger Building is actually two seperate buildings. Along the Canal Street facade the Saenger only owns the entrance and arcade beyond. The remainder of the Canal Street facade is retail on the first floor with a small hotel on the upper floors. The two halves of the hotel are joined by corridors that pass immediatly behind the Canal Street entry arch. The commercial/hotel structure is for sale. The last I heard, was that a group of investors were attempting to buy the Joy, Loew’s State, Saenger, and Orpheum theatres to restore/re-open them as a live performance complex. This was several months ago.

The Saenger has had it’s roof replaced and has been dried out since Katrina. The building is currently stablized and I believe that the HVAC system is being used to prevent further damage.

The Loew’s state also has had it’s roof replaced and the HVAC system is operational. The building has seen extremely limited use since Katrina and was closed due to fire code violations. I do not know if any of these have been corrected.

I belive that very little has been done to the Joy Theatre since Katrina.

The Orpheum Theatre was purchased for slightly less that $700,000.00 shortly after Katrina. There was some work done to remove some of the storm damage. I do not know the current state of the building but believe that it is still awaiting repairs.

Bway on March 30, 2008 at 10:50 am

Also notice, that there is a “for sale” sign on the building….so that would sort of make me believe who ever currently owns it doesn’t plan to renovate. Hopefully someone will come along and buy it.

Bway on March 30, 2008 at 10:49 am

As of my photos that I took about 6 weeks ago linked above, it didn’t appear they were doing anything with the building. I hope I am wrong.

Rogue on March 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Too bad the Saenger sign from 1963 didn’t remain.

Any restoration updates?