Saenger Theatre

118 South Palafox Place,
Pensacola, FL 32502

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Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

bdeem on January 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Can anyone give me some information on finding pictures of the original 1925 seats in the Saenger Theatre? I have one that came from the original theatre and want to restore it but would like to get as close to original in style as possible.

Patsy on August 11, 2012 at 8:41 am

Help restore the organ @

dickneeds111 on June 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I goofed. Not 1949 but 1959.

dickneeds111 on June 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Can somebody please add the Pen Theatre to this sight. Please give size, projection type. and screen size for what I thought was a wonderful theatre when I was stationed at NAS in 1949, 1963 and 1964 and again in 1983.

Chickman on October 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm

My grandmother was the manager of the Saenger Theatre during the 40’s and 50’s and I am looking for any information that might be availible.

GaryParks on June 30, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I remember when the 1981 renovation was done, a trade magazine (it may have been Architectural Record, I don’t recall) did a wonderful feature article on the theater. However, it showed that much of the interior color scheme (with the exception of some of the more intricate details) had been, as the article put it, “toned down to 80s sensibilities.” The photos showed that meant a rather subdued, pastel palette. With the more recent renovation and restoration, it would be interesting to know if that has been changed, perhaps in favor of replicating the original 1920s colors.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on October 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

Here is a picture from September 2010.

Lak on September 22, 2009 at 1:29 pm

The restoration is now complete. Those who have seen it say that it is first rate.

brucebrock on February 18, 2008 at 2:55 pm

The Saenger expansion/restoration project broke ground in February 2008. Cost of the project is around $12 million dollars. The original Robert Morgan theater organ is also being restored.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 12, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Here is a close-up view of the Saenger Theater.

jrhine on January 3, 2008 at 6:42 am

The Saenger currently has a 4/23 Robert Morton Theater Organ.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 2, 2008 at 2:19 pm

This is another photo of the Saenger Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 2, 2007 at 5:24 pm

A Robert-Morton theater organ size 2/6 was installed in the Saenger Theater in 1925.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 2, 2007 at 8:32 am

Added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1976

Saenger Theatre (added 1976 – Building – #76000596)
118 S. Palafox St., Pensacola
Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Event
Architect, builder, or engineer: Turner,C.H., Weil,Emile
Architectural Style: Mission/Spanish Revival, Other
Area of Significance: Performing Arts, Architecture
Period of Significance: 1925-1949
Owner: Local Gov’t
Historic Function: Recreation And Culture
Historic Sub-function: Theater
Current Function: Vacant/Not In Use

ksummerlin on July 20, 2006 at 8:08 am

The Pensacola Saenger Theatre recently received approval and funding for a $9 million renovation. The Saenger Theatre Expansion and Renovation Project will begin in the spring of 2007 and is projected to be completed by the fall of 2008.

Among the renovation/expansions:

Entire main floor will be re-seated
Balcony seats refurbished
New Air Conditioning
New lobby space added
Additional restrooms added
New refreshment stands
Additional meeting rooms and a new entrance

The architectural wall finishes will be restored to match the
historic color schemes
Acoustical treatments will be added to enhance sound quality
A new orchestra shell
Sound & lighting improvements

The stage will be expanded to Jefferson Street along the rear wall
The orchestra pit will be expanded
A new two-story addition to the South of the Theatre will be added
to add new dressing rooms, production offices, storage, etc
New covered loading dock & freight elevator

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 28, 2006 at 7:30 am

This is a 1920’s photo of the Saenger Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 17, 2006 at 3:12 pm

Here is a photo of the Saenger Theater in Pensacola.

DonovanPoet on May 8, 2005 at 5:25 pm

I was a theater usher at the Saenger in 1962-63 while a senior at Pensacola Catholic High School. I am slowly putting together some stories of that time and will be posting these on my site at as I finish them. Any ushers from this time (such as Jim, Mike, Danny – who became a TV personality in Mobile but I remember him selling candy at the Mickey Mouse Club) are welcome to email me their stories at

brucebrock on March 1, 2005 at 11:38 am

There are plans in the works now to expand the Pensacola Florida Saenger to include rehersal halls, expanded orchestra pit, more dressing rooms, lecutre halls, upgraded stage storage, symphony orchestra stage shell, upgrades to seating and much more. The plan is to really make the Saenger a Performing Arts Center. Contact Greenhut Construction Company or the Pensacola City Council for more information. 3-1-2005.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 13, 2005 at 4:53 pm

Saenger Theatre
Opening Performance
April 2, 1925

“The orchestra opened with ‘"The Star Spangled Banner.” The senior pupils of Miss Kehoe’s Aesthetics Dancing Class performed the “Dance of Old Seville.” After a solo by Miss Agnes Neudorff, the feature film- Cecil B. De Mille’s “The Ten Commandments”– started.
She has been called the “Grand Dame of Palafox Place.” When she opened in 1925, vaudeville was in full swing. Weekly productions included road shows, Broadway plays, silent movies on the silver screen, and singing and dancing by local entertainers.
The Theatre was constructed on the site of the old Pensacola Opera House which a hurricane demolished in 1916. Building materials for the Saenger were scavenged from the rubble of the Opera House, including the balcony’s railing. More than eight pounds of silver dust were incorporated into the coatings on the stage’s silver screen. The colossal twisted columns bordering the stage area were grooved out by the sculptor’s own elbow in the wet plaster.
Unfortunately for the “Grand Dame,” vaudeville peaked and died in the next few years. When the era of sound motion pictures came to town, the era of vaudeville left and the Theatre’s main emphasis changed from the live shows and theatrical productions to two-dimensional projected images.
By 1940, the Saenger was strictly a movie house and during World War II ran 24 hours a day. Box seats located on either side of the stage were ripped away for better viewing of wide-screen movies.
In 1960, a wall that separated wooden benches in a back section of the theatre was torn down because patrons were purchasing tickets to this reduced-rate section and then vaulting the wall for access to more desirable seats. During its first decades of use, that section had been known as the “colored people’s balcony."
By the mid 1960’s, the Theatre had taken on the reputation of an adult-movie house. Then in 1975- the seats faded and ripped, light fixtures outdated, and paint chipping from the walls- the old Theatre, in a state of total disrepair, was bolted shut.
Fortunately for Pensacolians, the Saenger Theatre did not remain permanently in that state. The Theatre was donated to the city of Pensacola and- through a joint effort by the University of West Florida which donated $500,000 toward its restoration, and the city of Pensacola-the theatre was restored and returned to its standing as a cultural center for the performing arts.
Many if its original trappings were restored including the re-creation of the ticket booth and box seats in their original style. The total ambiance of the structure was intensified by a major facelift. The Theatre’s seats were reupholstered, and original light fixtures were repaired and rewired. Then it was totally repainted after sandblasting removed layers of paint that had been applied over the decades. Electrical and mechanical systems were brought up to date with state-of-the-art equipment. Renovation costs totaled $1.6 million.
By the time the Saenger reopened in September of 1981, the vintage structure was ready for theatrical plays, musical productions and vaudeville, for which it was originally intended.
City visitors and residents who have never been inside the Saenger are usually surprised by the Theatre’s look on the inside, as the Palafox Street entrance- which resembles a movie theatre- gives no real indication of the contents. Only after stepping past the ticket booth and across the threshold, will an upward view of the inside reveal the Saenger’s grandiose style.
It is not until one steps inside the lofty auditorium that the Saenger experience begins to captivate. To enter the monument is to step into the 1920’s era. Originally built in a Spanish-rococo style, the main auditorium is overwhelmingly ornate. Artisans applied stucco to create ornaments of shell work and foliage, producing an overall effect of movement that circumvents the entire stage.
The Saenger currently plays host to Broadway musicals, opera, symphony and ballet. Local theatricals and world-renowned personalities such as David Copperfield, CATS, STOMP, Ziggy Marley, and Yanni have shone here as well. The Theatre has run the gamut from theatrics to movie theatre, to adult peep show, to performing arts. In retrospect, the Saenger Theatre is now what it once was, a cultural center for the city with a 1920’s luster”.

5456581 on January 13, 2005 at 4:49 pm

Saw many a FRI midnight screening at the Saenger. Also saw a special screening of D>W> Ggiggiths :Birth Of A Nation. What a treat in such a great MOVIE PALACE. Glad to see that it is still live and

jpaye on January 13, 2005 at 9:37 am

I have heard rumors that this theatre may be planning some restoration/renovations in the near future. Can anyone give me any news or update on that? Thank you.