Saenger Theatre

120 W. 2nd Avenue,
Pine Bluff, AR 71601

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Showing 1 - 25 of 32 comments

Vonya
Vonya on March 1, 2023 at 3:37 pm

SethG….That’s so sad. Pine Bluff was my childhood home and going to the Saenger as a kid inspired me to become a stage actor & write, and I hope to start a youth theater company soon. It hurts my heart to think the whole area has been allowed to become “apocalyptic”. I’ve looked at listings for some of the houses in the area and the photos of what used to be very nice homes have left me speechless and sad. I hope someone recognizes the history and potential Pine Bluff has and tries to do something to bring it back…..Soon!

Jake Bottero
Jake Bottero on September 15, 2022 at 11:07 am

Vacant. Looking quite bad.

Pinebluff
Pinebluff on April 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

MEBO, do you or your family have photos or memorabilia of any of the old theaters in Pine Bluff? 469-442-5683

MEBO
MEBO on June 26, 2013 at 7:21 am

I forgot to say these theaters were in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

MEBO
MEBO on June 26, 2013 at 7:20 am

My family all worked at the Saenger, Malco, and Strand..my Dad was manager of the Zebra Drive In for several years. I worked during my high school years (1964-1968). It is hard to believe there was still what was called a “colored” entrance during those years….at the Saenger and the Malco. My Mom sold tickets at the Strand until is closed down. My brother was a projector operator (in the 1950’s) and I did tickets, concession and ocassionally, doorman. The Saturday morning “Coke” shows were fun! The doors opened with swarms of kids rushing in. The Manager at the time was Bruce K. Young. We had an awesome time before and after shifts exploring the beautiful Saenger!

TxDodgegrl04
TxDodgegrl04 on June 24, 2011 at 2:04 am

We are trying to Save the Saenger in Pine Bluff, Ar. Please go to Save Saenger on Facebook and perhaps donate to the cause..

Angus2001
Angus2001 on June 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

The person who is mentioned here, Moon, NEVER bought the theater. Ever. It is still owned by Old Town Theatres Centre, Inc., a 501 c 3 corporation who are doing every thing they can to try and raise money to begin at the very least much needed repairs. Moon was indeed interested in getting ahold of the theater, but he never did – not even for a single day.

Vonya
Vonya on November 9, 2009 at 1:23 am

I was in Pine Bluff last February and I was blown away by the ghost-town it had become. I remember seeing movies in the Saenger and it was just an amazing place! I’m a photographer and I planned to capture the historic buildings as they stood against time….when I saw them, I found myself hoping to document their existence before they’re gone—which, given what I saw, is not far in the future. I was never there when the Hotel Pines was open but I have always been drawn to it—I remember stretching and straining to look through the boarded up/dirty windows just hoping to see what was inside. While I was there, I was allowed into the Hotel and I wanted to bawl! I shot several photos of it just to have some record of its existence. It is so sad that these places are being left to decay and be demolished because they don’t fit into our “Wal Mart and strip mall” world today.

I’ve tried to contact the owners of these old buildings to no avail. It really bothers me that they’ve become pawns in some petty “pissin' contest” between two immature ex-school rivals! How pathetic! They need to pull theirs heads out…….and realize there’s not just a “big” picture here, there’s a HUGE picture. They’re not playing Monopoly—they’re playing with history and, if they cause these places to be lost forever, history will NOT be kind to them when their stories are told in the future. I’d like to try to help save these places (and some others around Arkansas) so, any ideas………….

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on August 12, 2009 at 5:17 am

Take the 2 links I posted and it shows that the Hauber became Saenger sometime late in 1920. Burned in 1922, when Hauber no longer owned it, and was rebuilt by Saenger. Granted, it doesn’t say where or how much it was rebuilt. Since the rebuilding had an architect Emile Weil, I am going to assume from the ground up.

Cost for rebuild was estimated at $30,000 before the fire, then was finally rebuilt after the fire at a cost of $200,000. From reading the articles, it burned while in the process of rebuilding or remodeling.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on August 11, 2009 at 10:42 pm

The 2nd link I posted says Hauber sold to Bohlinger Amusements in 1920, then 2 months later sold to Saenger. So it appears to already have been Saenger when it burned in 1922. Very possible a 1922 building on the same lot, but it doesn’t mentioned the building was razed.

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on August 11, 2009 at 10:17 pm

2nd paragraph here says the same thing….

View link

And here too….

View link

preechyr
preechyr on February 24, 2009 at 10:15 pm

It will re-open as theatre as planned……

First Movie will be “The MOON strikes back, the negroids take revenge”

I say that in humor and to prove a point: MOON himself boasted of his pride to be able to buy the places that enforced segregation by law. So now he is the HNIC. The more you buy the more control you have. Now lets see him donate some property for charities sake.

EricK
EricK on February 13, 2009 at 7:28 am

Okay,
The theatres were sold to a gentleman investor by the name of MOON. He is from Memphis and is responsible for the building of Beale Street what it is today. He has been buying up a lot of properties in Pine Bluff such as the Hotel Pines and dozens of others, but he has been doing it semi-secretly. Its been in the papers but noone has a clue what he wants done with it. That whole downtown section is falling apart. THe ceiling just caved in at the old band museum.

Our Current Mayor in Pine Bluff is Carl Redus. Moon told Redus “The first thing you need to do is write a grant proposal to get the asbestos out of the buildings downtown.”
“We don’t have anyone on our staff that does grant writing” Redus replied.
“Well here is the grant proposal from Memphis. Just change the name of the city and the figures and send it in."
"Im sorry, we just don’t have anyone on any of our staffs that handle that.”
It turns out that Redus and Moon supposedly dated the same girl in high school therefore redus doesn’t want to gove Moon the credit for saving Pine Bluff. Now I don’t know if this is true but I have sources closely associated with the buildings that told me this and other things.
So the dream is over essentially. I went up on the roof and the condition of the roof up there was the last straw. My sister was getting ready to do a story about the buildings for the Commercial when we found out that they were both sold as fast as they could have been. Frankly I was pissed, so I will tell all I know as it is out of their hands now.

I have videos from inside the theatre as well as a lot of pictures of its state that are several months old.

THe community is across the street on the next block. That address is 207 W. Second Street.

Sorry for the bad news.
Respectfully,
Eric

jmmyjam
jmmyjam on January 22, 2009 at 11:14 pm

What is the status of the Saenger Theater now? Has it changed hands? Did the Community Theater become a bar as was stated in the earlier post?

EricK
EricK on May 2, 2008 at 8:23 pm

I now know that the Community and the Saenger are under negotiations for changing hands altogether. Developments as of Wednesday are happening and I will be able to comment on this further in the future.

Eric

EricK
EricK on April 28, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Heres a shot of the Fascade
View link
A Shot of the Marquee, removed in 1988
View link
Heres the lateral and Posterior view
View link
And a view of the Saenger from Underneath the Marquee of the Community Theatre.
View link

EricK
EricK on April 28, 2008 at 6:57 pm

The Theatre is lacking a lot more than a Marquee. It needs about 6 million for a complete restoration, with at least 55,000 for the roof alone. Unfortunately, the grant money is gone and the Pine Bluff Film Festival is over. They are selling the Community THeatre (Oldest 1 screen theatre in Arkansas), to turn it into a bar. The closest thing that it has to a Marquee is a sign that I’ll probably hang within the next few weeks. Heres a picture of the lobby through the window.
View link

Know anyone that wants to make a donation?

Respectfully,
Eric

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on April 28, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Theatre needs a marquee it looks naked without one. brucec

EricK
EricK on April 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm

Here is the most recent photo of it on the web.
View link

EricK
EricK on April 28, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Mr. Beatty; Mr. Curry,
I have spent a couple of afternoons with Ms. Kathleen helping her clean the Community Theatre for its sale. I went to the screening of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” with my 10 year old niece and we met Patricia Neal. I felt so bad because I had to get her home and we had to leave and Prof. Hirsch practically begged us to stay as there was really noone there.
I am from the younger generation and I have recently become infatuated with the Saenger. I have a lot of ideas and Im currently working on a letter to Ms. Kathleen about some of my opinions, comments, suggestions, and a vision for the future. Im trying to get in touch with as many people as possible related to the Pine Bluff Film Festival so that perhaps I can express my concerns and receive feedback on the feasibility of some of my ideas. I need someone to contact me because while I’m beginning to see this as a lost cause, im pretty determined not to give up.
Respectfully,
Eric

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 27, 2006 at 4:03 pm

Here is an interesting article about the Saenger and the Silent Film Festival:
http://tinyurl.com/qnxar

TheatreLover
TheatreLover on April 6, 2006 at 6:34 am

As a member of the board of directors which owns the Saenger Theatre, I thought I would write a few lines to bring things up to date. This past summer (2005) we had a business plan created for the restoration of the theatre. It has gone out to various business leaders, government agencies, funding groups, developers, and many others who have expressed interest and have the means to help. As always, we remain optimistic, though it is an uphill battle.

We won’t allow it to become a parking lot or mall however, so no fear there. We will only accept a complete restoration of the Saenger to its original form and function.

At this time however we are allowing NO tours of the building. Sorry, but it is necessary for safety and insurance reasons.

deleted user
[Deleted] on October 26, 2005 at 1:52 am

Bob, you are right. Many smaller machines, such as photoplayers and Reproducos, were very popular with smaller movie houses. It has been estimated that about 8,000-10,000 photoplayers were manufactured in the U.S. for movie accompaniment. 1,000 of these were Reproducos made by Operators of Chicago. Yet, there are only a few dozen photoplayers in existence today; I’m not sure how many Reproducos specifically exist nowadays, but some have survived. These instruments actually could be synchronized with the film by installing certain types of “mood music” rolls on them. Several models of photoplayers had provision for two rolls (the “duplex roll system”), so that one song could be switched to another to match the film. These instruments could be hand played, but often they were played automatically, either by the operator sitting at the machine itself or by controlling the instrument from the projection booth. However, it is humorous to note that many operators sometimes did just let the machines play whatever was next on the rolls regardless of what was happening on the screen. According to the books I’ve read, however, most audiences apparently didn’t mind this so much; just as long as there was music, the movie was worth seeing!

theatreluver
theatreluver on October 26, 2005 at 12:27 am

Thanks to both of you for more info on mechanical instruments. Very interesting! Some comments and observations: I know for a fact that the Robert Morton was already installed for the opening ceremony of the theatre because the newspaper gives the program which included both the organ and the Saenger Orchestra. I am sure you are both correct claiming the smaller machines were used primarily in smaller houses to accompany the pictures. However, I have wondered if they really were used to actually accompany them. Imagine a tender love scene with a mechanical instrument blurting out a Sousa march! There would have been no way these machines could have been in sync with the picture and, I suspect, would have been very disconcerting to an audience. Perhaps, in the earliest days of film, any kind of accompaniment, even if it was out of sync with the film, was used in small houses. I have not done a lot of research into this and perhaps I am wrong. I have had the pleasure of seeing several silent films accompanied live with a full orchestra and the music fit the emotions like a hand in a glove. The music heightened the emotions of the scene. A mechanical instrument playing popular tunes or marches would have completely destroyed the effect. I welcome comments about this.