Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pine Bluff

I headed down to Pine Bluff one night after work to try to take a few pictures. I had thought that I had planned everything out, I made sure the camera and tripod were packed up and had fully charged batteries. The only thing I didn't plan to pack was a change of clothes, which meant I had to walk around taking pictures in the clothes I wore to work. Which usually wouldn't be much of an issue except it was nearly 100 degrees that day, with a head index of about 110.

With the car AC going full blast, I headed into Pine Bluff. I stopped at the old R.M. Knox House, which was built in 1885.


I drove into downtown Pine Bluff and parked by the old Masonic Building, which was built in 1904. When it was built, it was the tallest building in the city.


Downtown Pine Bluff is marked by a wide collection of abandoned buildings, many of which are boarded up.



One store was closed, with metal gates across the front. There were a few items in the glass display cases, and a large collection of newspapers piled on the ground by the door.


I headed a few blocks over and passed by the old Saenger Theater. The doors and windows of the old theater are boarded up, although someone went through and painted a few scenes on the boards.


The theater is huge, towering four or five stories over the street. It's also an architectural gem. The theater was built in 1924, and was called the "Showcase of the South" when it opened. The theater hosted travelling plays and even had performances from Harry Houdini. But competition from newer theaters led to the Saenger theater eventually closing its doors in 1975.

Saenger Theater

The theater found a few uses in the years since, including serving as the home of the Pine Bluff Film Festival for a short time. Renovations were made, but water damage from a leaking roof has caused some damage to the plaster on the interior. The city of Pine Bluff has taken over ownership of the building, but there is no money for any repairs to the theater. So it sits empty and abandoned.



This old sofa sat next to the windows on the second floor, near the doors that lead off to the balcony.


The old Saenger Theater is a true gem, but one that forlornly sits forgotten in a downtown that is also lonely and empty. There are still efforts to save the theater, although funds for renovations are low. Hopefully it will be renovated before there is anymore water damage.

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