Saenger renovation work begins soon - - The News for South Mississippi

Saenger renovation work begins soon


By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - In the next month or two, work should finally begin on the restoration of Biloxi's Saenger Theater. A multi-million dollar restoration project that began way back in 1998, was finished in 2005, but then Katrina hit.

"It was in perfect shape, the day the storm hit," Biloxi Historical Administrator Bill Raymond said.

Thanks to that monster storm, the Saenger is not in perfect shape anymore. Walk into the theater and you see one of the most obvious signs of what Katrina did. Because of water from the storm, the plaster on the walls is peeling away; plaster that was brand new before Katrina.

"Basically, every bit of the plaster has to be repaired and repainted," Raymond said.

That work will be done in phase two. Raymond said phase one will repair the roof and the exterior walls.

Since we are coming up on the five year anniversary of the storm, Raymond understands why people would be anxious for this work to be done, but he said there are reasons why it has taken so long.

"It is an historic building. Plus, it is being funded by FEMA, so there is a lot that needed to be done before this work could begin," Raymond said.

Although FEMA will pay for the majority of the work, the rest of the funding will come from insurance proceeds. The price tag should be under a half million dollars.

Raymond, with a smile on his face, said when the work is finished, the Saenger will look like the grand old lady she once was years ago. He is optimistic all the work could be finished by the spring of 2011.

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