The Saenger Theatre in New Orleans
Photos of the inside of the theater:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anitrasdan … 094752365/
When the General Manager of the theater, Mr Skinner, was giving us the tour he told us all about the history of the place. It was very interesting. The theater was built in 1927 as a movie theater and it was done as a theme. They wanted it to feel as though you were in a courtyard with stone walls surrounding you and a starry sky above. There are only a few theaters like this in the country. It was sold to Paramount two years later for $10 million. (Huge amount of money in those days) They ran it as a movie house for many years all through the Depression. Over time it was repainted inside many times and to save costs they would use only one color or two which hid all the details that had been there originally. The building fell into disrepair and they started selling things off, like the chandeliers in the lobby to keep it going. Eventually they weren't sure whether to invest in it or tear it down, but it was such an important and special icon to so many in the city, that they decided to invest in renovating it. The renovation took 10-12 years and cost $52 million. They used the one remaining chandelier as a model for the three more that they needed for the lobby. A scrap of the original inner lobby carpet from 1927 had been saved and the pattern was sent to Europe where it was remade. They chipped away at the old paint and found the original colors and it took 2 years to repaint the outer lobby ceiling the way it had originally been done. It is a very colorful ceiling. When Hurricane Katrina hit, they were in the process of remodeling and fortunately all the seats had already been removed so they didn't end up being damaged. The water came in and rose above the stage level and soaked into the plaster along the walls. They added a new addition onto the back of the building because the original stage was very shallow since it was only for movies. Now with the addition, the stage has been made much larger and they can accommodate Broadway productions. Mr. Skinner was telling us that the community has a certain respect for the place and when they come for a production they always dress up. They are going to "The Theater" and you have to dress appropriately. And it's true, we saw many men in sportscoats and women dressed nicely at the show. It was really fascinating to hear all about the place. It is truly a masterpiece of skilled artisans and craftsmen. Something we don't see in buildings built today. After the tour, we happened to see Carmine. He came out into the lobby after their soundcheck was done and we spoke with him for a little while about the building. It turns out that he had played in this theater back in the 1970's. Thought that was pretty cool.