Stalled restoration of Saenger Theater in N.O. to lift off in January

posted by CSWalczak on November 12, 2009 at 7:48 am

NEW ORLEANS, LA — Advertising for bids to begin restoration work on the Saenger Theater in the Big Easy which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters will begin in January. A recent article indicates that the plans will not simply restore the theater to its pre-Katrina appearance, but will result in the theater’s looking more like it did when it opened in 1927 by removing later additions such as the escalator, restoring the auditorium’s original color scheme, and using period hardware. The article includes diagrams and a picture of the damaged interior.

Out of the darkness that has prevailed since Hurricane Katrina, the bulbs of the Saenger’s giant marquee are expected to blink on to mark the coming return of the landmark playhouse that for years anchored the performing arts district along the city’s signature commercial boulevard.

The $38.8 million reconstruction of performance, patron and office space through an innovative alliance of the Canal Street Development Corp., an arm of City Hall, and the property’s longtime private owner-managers, Saenger Theatre Partnership of Houston, was announced to great fanfare in January. Until now, though, most progress has transpired on architects' drawing boards and in negotiations with financiers.

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Comments (4)

deleted user
[Deleted] on November 12, 2009 at 10:02 am

This is great news, to say in the least. I wish them all the best with the restoration.

MiltonSmith on November 12, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Read it again, the majority of the funds are coming from private backers. Only a fraction of it is coming from Federal and State funds. Those funds, from what I read are earmarked for historical renovations so its not as if those funds are being taken from housing as that is not where they were intended to go in the first place.

Great to see an old theatre get a facelift, its just sad it had to slide so far to get the help it needed.

CSWalczak on November 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

It has been four years since Katrina, and while I agree that there is much, much to do in terms of housing, infrastructure, and other human needs (especially after all bungling and mismanagement that went on), the city must at some point begin to consider the repair of its cultural heart and the need to assure that citizens and visitors will eventually have theaters, museums, and other places of entertainment. If this is done reasonably, without impairing the efforts to make New Orleans a livable, attractive city, than this is an effort that deserves to go forward.

jazzland on November 13, 2009 at 4:05 pm

I live in New Orleans. I’ve lived hear all of my life. The problems exposed by Katrina have always been here. Ingorance, racism, crime,poverty and corruption are a lifestyle to some here. In many ways, Katrina, although terribly destructive, opened doors to solve some of thoes problems. While their is still a great deal to be done, as far as getting the city to it’s pre-Katrina condition, the Saenger restoration is one of the truly bright spots. It is amazing how many people have been influenced by this one building. Almost everyone is excited to see this happen.

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