Saenger Amusement Company

The Saenger Amusement Company, organized in 1912 by brothers Julian and Abraham Saenger, grew into one of the largest motion picture chains in the south, with a peak total of 324 Saenger theaters operating in 12 southern states, along with Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Panama.

The Saenger Brothers, who previously owned their family drug store, began their foray into the world of amusement in 1911 with the construction of The Saenger, a vaudeville theatre in downtown New Orleans. After a year of exclusively vaudeville content, the Saengers decided to shift their focus to motion pictures and introduced short films into the Saenger’s program. [1]

With the ever-rising demand for motion pictures in the early 20th century, the Saenger Company, then under the management of E. V. Richards, began expanding from New Orleans into Texarkana and Alexandria. Saenger’s later acquisition of the formidable Fichtenberg Amusement company, which controlled houses in Vicksburg, Houston, and Pensacola, as well as New Orleans, marked an acceleration in the Saenger brothers’ rise. The Company formally established its New Orleans headquarters in 1917 and constructed Strand Theater in that same year. By 1924, Saenger began expanding into a dozen states, and in ’26 and ’27, they made landfall in Cuba and Jamaica. Saenger’s direct and indirect New Orleans holdings eventually expanded to include the Saenger, the Strand, the Globe, and the Liberty.

The 1916 Saenger family reunion evolved into a company party and was attended by numerous local business and political leaders including Consolidated Exchange manager Al Shear, Mayor Ford of Shreveport, and Mayor Behrman of New Orleans. While there, Mayor Behrman expressed his pleasure with Saenger’s role in New Orleans and subsequently congratulated the company on the then-forthcoming opening of the Strand. [2] In December 1916, Saenger hired a supplementary night shift of steelworkers to ensure the indulgent theatre’s timely February opening. [3]

In 1917, Saenger gained the rights to “First National Exhibitors Circuit” productions, showcasing stars Charlie Chaplin and Madame Petrova, and began shopping for booking deals with New Orleans theaters, while limiting exclusive first-run access to the Saenger-owned Strand and Globe. [3]



1111 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA