1940s postcard showing a night view of the Saenger
The Saenger Theatre in New Orleans was the flagship of several Saenger theaters throughout the South, and the New Orleans theater was the largest of them all, seating 3,400. Built in an Atmospheric style by Emile Weil, the Saenger cost over $2.5 million to construct, and its opening in 1927 celebrated with a parade attended by thousands along Canal Street.
Its cavernous auditorium’s ceiling, like other atmospheric theaters, was painted dark blue, and sprinkled with constellations over which clouds drifted before a show began. Its side walls were designed to look like a Renaissance Italian villa’s courtyard, with plaster archways, doorways and statuary decorated with greenery.
The enormous proscenium arch was heavily decorated by plasterwork, coated with gilding, and in a cartouche in the arch’s center, a shield with the letter “S” in it, surrounded by a plaster wreath.
A large crystal chandelier hangs in the marble and gold filled main lobby, one of a dozen that once hung throughout the Saenger. However, to finance its upkeep and renovation over the years, the other eleven have since been sold off.
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