A historic theater in Pensacola, Florida, known as the Saenger Theatre or just the Saenger, is home to the Saenger Players. It is located at 118 South Palafox Place in the city of Pensacola. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States on July 19, 1976. The Saenger Theater was included in A Guide to Florida’s Historic Architecture, which was published by the University of Florida Press in 1989 and is still standing today.
The theatre, also known as the Grand Dame of Palafox, was built in 1925 and designed by architect Emile Weil in the style known as Spanish Baroque architecture. It has been in continuous use since then. The Spanish architectural style was chosen because of the considerable Spanish history of the Pensacola area.
Construction began at 118 South Palafox in 1925, and the building officially inaugurated in 1926. The bricks used in the construction of the theater’s back wall were from the Pensacola Opera House, which once stood at the corner of Jefferson and Government Streets but was destroyed by a hurricane in 1916. It was also necessary to remove the decorative railing from the third-floor balcony, which was reserved for “women of the night,” from the original opera theater. The Saenger was built for a total of $500,000 at a cost of $500,000 by C.H. Turner Company, General Contractors, who also served as the general contractor around Pensacola.
Among the many features of the structure were a Robert Morton organ that is currently undergoing restoration, as well as 2,250 leather-backed chairs and magnificent chandeliers, as well as more than eight pounds of silver for the silver screen. “Dr. Mendenhall’s innovative transvertical non-statical projectographic equipment,” according to the Saenger, served as the projector for the performance.
A performance by a local dance class, as well as a solo sung by another member of the community, heralded the opening of the Saenger Theater on April 2, 1925. “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the “Dance of Old Seville” followed, with a solo sung by yet another member of the community. The main event, Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, was eventually screened, capping off their sold-out grand opening day with a bang.
The Saenger was the setting for a wide range of entertainment. In addition to silent films, and subsequently sound films, Vaudeville and Broadway shows were popular entertainment options for many people throughout this period. Local entertainers were also asked to play at the exclusive Saenger Hotel in New York City. As in its earlier days, the edifice is still in its original site on the northeastern corner of South Palafox Place and East Intendencia Street, where it continues to serve a variety of entertainment in the same manner as it did then.
If you want to enjoy some fresh air, check out the Admiral Fetterman Field.