Live Local: A look back at the history of Biloxi’s Saenger Theatre

The movie ‘Interference’, Paramount’s first 100% talking movie picture, was also the first feature playing in Biloxi’s Historic Saenger Theatre when it opened its doors in January of 1929.

The theatre was built at a cost of $200,000, there were 1,020 seats on the first floor and 480 seats in the balcony.  The cost for a child’s ticket when it opened was only 10 cents.

Jane Shambra, a historian with the Biloxi Library says, “When people came here it wasn’t just for movies, we saw it as a gathering place for people as well.”

It was home to more than just movies, it became a venue for concerts, plays, operas, symphonies, and even dance recitals.

The theatre underwent numerous renovations as it survived multiple storms, a fire, as well as the toll of time.

What was once a place for the arts that lifted spirits closed in 2018 remains dark and empty with a leaky roof.

Residents fought for the preservation of this historical landmark with the “Save the Saenger” campaign.

The Biloxi City Council agreed upon a new budget and the theatre is currently under renovations.

Jane Shambra says, “It’s an older building so it needs a lot of TLC so when it opens again it’s going to be amazing.”

While the doors remain shut and when they will reopen again is unknown, you can still stroll past the theatre and admire what  some consider a symbol of the city’s resilience.

Categories: Community Headlines, Local News

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