THE PINEY WOODS 175 SAENGER THEATER Built in 1929 as part of the Saenger Amusement Company, the Hattiesburg Saenger was one of seven theaters established throughout the southern United States by brothers Abe and Julian Saenger. Designed by New Orleans architect Emile Weil with seating for nearly a thousand patrons, the Hattiesburg Saenger was considered a movie palace—one of the few of its kind that still remains today. During its early years, the theater featured silent movies, with admission costing only six cents. Perhaps the theater’s most impressive entertainment feature was its grand Robert Morton organ. The Saenger quickly became known as the elite movie-viewing venue in the Hattiesburg area, often presenting the most popular first-run movies. During its long-lasting prime, the Saenger showed as many as three different movies per week. The theater featured a wide variety of movie types and even door prizes for added entertainment. When the Saenger closed its doors in the 1960s, the city received ownership. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. During the 1980s, Hattiesburg mayor Bobby Chain located the original Morton organ and returned it to the Saenger, making it one of the few Morton organs still used in an American theater today. In 2000, the Saenger underwent a successful $3.75 million restoration. Today, the Saenger remains a major attraction to downtown Hattiesburg, hosting various events such as film screenings and live performances.