Paramount Theatre

911 Pine Street,
Seattle, WA 98101

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DavidZornig on May 12, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Link with the Cinerama showings at the Paramount with photos. Nice embroidered bowling shirt at the bottom.

pnelson on January 27, 2017 at 5:46 am

I remember seeing a few films at this lovely elaborate theatre. Horror films mostly. Tales of Edger Allen Poe on a double bill with The Brain That Wouldn’t Die in the late 50’s or early 60’s is an example. Not impressive fair. The huge 1st run movies did not seem to play this palace very often it seems to me. I think it was used for Cinerama though for a short time. The big road show films played other palaces. They played the Blue Mouse, Music Box, 5th Avenue, Orpheum and Music Hall. Good the Paramount outlasted most of them. The interior is quite incredible.

DavidZornig on November 2, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Full Paramount history with photos in the 2012 link below.

JackCoursey on July 24, 2016 at 5:36 am

The Paramount is great! Not a bad seat in the house, great acoustics, and rich in design. Hope to hear the organ someday there.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm

“The show is fine at 9th and Pine!”

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on June 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm

I’ve added a photo, it’s the one with the ‘Miss Saigon’ banner on the side wall.

ERD on November 26, 2010 at 3:19 pm

What a beautiful theatre! I am so glad it is restored and being maintained.

tdickensheets on November 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I went to Paramount Theatre to see Rain: tribute to The Beatles.

Alan Bell
Alan Bell on February 14, 2010 at 11:20 pm

From: Signs of the Times, February 2010, a sign-making trade magazine

“An Icon’s Second Act"
The Sign Factory gives a landmark Emerald City sign a facelift.
By Ken Naasz

In 1928, the worlds first TV station opened in New York; Mickey Mouse made his big- screen debut in Steamboat Willie; and Seattle’s most opulent theatre palace opened to the wide-eyed public with a landmark sign that featured 1,944 flashing bulbs and 5-ft.-tall, neon, open-pan channel letters. As part of the city skyline for more than 80 years, it has been deemed “the most significant sign in Seattle” by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board. The original theatre and sign were designed by the famed Chicago architectural firm Rapp and Rapp. Originally built and installed in 1928, the sign was changed in 1930 to reflect its new name, the Paramount Theatre.

In December 2008, David Allen, director of operations for Seattle Theatre Group (owners of the sign), decided the old sign needed replacement after having endured many years of wet Northwest weather. Rust and decay had deteriorated its sheetmetal beyond repair. Birds and rodents ate away the old electrical wiring, which created a fire hazard. Pieces of the sign had begun falling off the marquee, which threatened the safety of pedestrians on the sidewalk below.

The Sign Factory (TSF), Kirkland, WA, contracted to remove the old sign and replace it with an exact replica. TSF’s field manager, Tom Bonifant, maintained the old Paramount sign for more than 15 years. Bonifant had spent more than a decade replacing its transformers, wiring, sockets and sheetmetal, so Allen entrusted him to manage the sign’s replacement.

Something old, something new

We began by surveying the existing sign for salvageable, original elements. We hired West Coast Structural Engineering Inc. (Mukilteo, WA) to analyze the steel and provide a structural observation and assessment report. Their analysis found the 12 x 5-in., steel I-beams and connecting, 15-in. C-channels in excellent shape, with only some surface rust in places. Not bad for projecting out the side of a building amidst often rainy environs for more than 80 years. However, the welded, 2-in., angle iron that connected the sign sections to the structure required replacement.

Next, Allen, Jim Risher, Jim Minar (TSF’s president and permit technician, respectively) and I met with Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board and provided the engineering data and preliminary designs. The submittal process entailed attending several to Architectural Review Committee meetings, drawing revisions and providing additional information to the committee.

The board approved the sign, with the stipulation that it match the original’s design and size. TSF built a full-scale, section prototype of the sign so board members could see and touch the actual paint colors, materials, neon tubes and LED bulbs. After having acquired a certificate of approval from the Board, we obtained sign and electrical permits from the City of Seattle.

Hatching the plan

With approvals in hand, TSF began the manufacturing process. First, we made “dirty handprint” patterns onsite by placing large sheets of paper over the sign’s face and rubbing the paper to create a relief image. This allowed TSF to recreate the intricate scroll patterns and distinctive design elements with exacting detail.

In addition to making patterns, we took measurements from all sections to ensure accuracy. Next, we began the painstaking process of transposing the pattern and measurement information into our CAD/CAM computer system. On our design-station computer, which operates Windows XP Pro, a 2.67MHz Intel Core Duo processor with 2 GB of RAM, Corel X3, and Gerber’s Omega Composer version 3.6, we digitized the size and shape.

With the digital image saved, we downloaded the vector EPS files directly to our AXYZ 5010 dual-head, 6 x 10-ft., flatbed CNC router. We used Artcam Express 2009 and AXYZ Toolpath for Windows software to convert the files from EPS to NC format. The Sign Factory’s production manager, Shawn Spencer, managed the entire manufacturing process.

The signfaces measured 65 ft. tall overall and varied in width from 5 ft. 4 in. to 8 ft. 8 in., while each face was built in three separate sections for transport and installation ease. We routed the signfaces from 0.125-in. aluminum with the bulb socket holes and letter centers cut from the face. We cut grooves at a 0.031-in. depth to allow for insetting and welding of 3-in. x 0.063-in., chasing bulb channels.

The Seattle Theatre Group wanted the new sign be as “green” as possible. The 6 x 10-ft., aluminum sheets contain 17% post-consumer and 27% post-industrial, recycled content. Ryerson Aluminum provided the recycled sheetstock.

Heavy-duty signmaking

On the reverse side of the signfaces, we used a Miller Millermatic 275 220V, wire-feed welder to attach a 5-in.-wide, aluminum C-channel frame. TSF built 2 x 2 x 3/16-in., steel angle, custom rolling dollies to better access each section of the sign throughout the construction process. We designed the dollies with a rotisserie feature that allowed production crews to easily reach every sign section. This allowed TSF to save time and money and reduce the risk of damage to the signs during the construction process.

We welded aluminum channels from 0.063-in. material to the face sections using the grooves previously routed into the face. The open pan channel letters, which read “Paramount,” were wrapped with 0.080-in. aluminum. The letters were constructed with an 8-in. return to match the original letters.

Next, we primed the sign faces were with Akzo’s Grip-Gard Washprimer, a two-part, self-etching primer. Then, 1,944 UL-listed 660W/250V Suprolux Bakelite housing bulb sockets were installed into each hole routed from the face. We inserted router-cut, rigid foam insulation, which we coated with waterbased primer, into each socket to prevent overspray contaminating the sockets.

We painted the bulb channels and open-pan channel letters gold to match the existing sign. TSF also paid careful attention to the exact color to replicate the original sign’s patina. We sprayed on satin-finish, Matthews acrylic polyurethane paint. We then masked the gold areas and painted the signface blue to match the old paint color.

Following the painting process, we wired the bulb sockets with four colors of 1000V, 14-gauge wire. We then wired Rocox solid-state, four-way flashers to the sockets to provide the chasing action, which matched the original bulbs. To match the original bulb chasing action, we’d recorded the speed and action of the original bulbs. We replaced the original, 11W incandescent bulbs with HiteQ 0.75W LED lamps with frosted lenses that closely matched the originals.

Throughout the face construction, painting and wiring processes, we routed the 0.090-in.-thick aluminum back sections on our AXYZ CNC router. Access panels were strategically placed throughout the back of the sign to provide for service of the electrical components while avoiding the internal and external structure. Hinged covers were included on the panels to keep out the weather, birds and other critters. We welded the 0.080-in., aluminum sign returns to the back and face sections, and then primed and painted the sign back and returns to match the original color.

Every piece in place

Final assembly required installation of double-tube, 15mm, 30mA, clear, red-neon tubing within the open-pan channel letters. Single-tube, 15mm, 30mA, clear, pumped-blue neon completes the center tube within each letter. Using one transformer per letter, we installed VENTEX Gen III self-adjusting, UL 2161-listed, 120V/1.8 amp, ground-fault transformers to power the neon components. All told, the neon spans 420 linear ft.

Over two days â€" October 6 and 7 of last year â€" we removed the original sign and installation of the new sign sections occurred. We cut the old sign into five sections per side for removal. TSF estimated the sheetmetal’s weight at roughly 12,000 lbs., and the new sign’s aluminum weighed 6,000 lbs. The Sign Factory hired Apex Steel Inc. (Redmond, WA) to remove the old sign and complete all onsite welding. City inspectors performed a very detailed and comprehensive inspection of all the field welds.

Ness Cranes of Seattle provided a 40-ton crane with a 130-ft. lift. We also used a 125-ft. Genie lift throughout the removal and installation process. TSF’s 24-ft. flatbed truck, two 24-ft., flatbed trailers and 80-ft. Dyna-Lift crane truck transported the sign sections.

Thanks to Tom Bonifant and his crews, the installation progressed like clockwork and ahead of schedule. On October 21, a lighting ceremony was held, and the public got their first look at the bright, new sign. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and Seattle Theatre Group was thrilled with their beautiful new sign.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the sign will consume 90% less energy and save approximately 493,268kwh of electricity per year versus the old sign. That’s enough energy to power roughly 55 Seattle homes. The Paramount Theatre’s lighting upgrade and sign project also qualified the Seattle Theatre Group for approximately $56,000 in energy-efficiency rebates from Seattle City Light.

The Sign Factory is proud to have been a part of such an historically significant project. The Paramount Theatre’s sign will continue to shine brightly and illuminate the Seattle skyline for another 80 years (or more).

Twistr54 on November 12, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Simply beautiful !! Awesome pix !

CSWalczak on November 12, 2009 at 3:31 am

Here is a set of pictures of the new vertical being installed: View link

Twistr54 on November 5, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Has anyone taken photos of the new vertical?? This has to be one of the most beautiful theatres ever.

Dav1dJeffers on October 10, 2009 at 6:45 am

On Tuesday, October 6, 2009, the last original marquee element was removed.
View link

Gooper on June 30, 2008 at 2:49 am

Lookin' GOOD!
I used to have to change that marquee via one of the most death-inviting ladders imaginable. You had to stand on the top rung, and passers-by were completely oblivious. I should wear a t-shirt saying: ‘I SURVIVED THE SEATTLE PARAMOUNT MARQUEE-CHANGING LADDER’.

William on June 4, 2008 at 7:48 pm

The opening night programme featured.
A) Selections from Faust by Seattle Grand Concert Orchestra.
B)“Memories” a Technicolor Novelty with Special Orchestral Score.
C) News of the Day with Orchestral Accompaniment.
D) “Don and Ron” at the Grand Organ featuring “Organs We Have Played"
E)"A Merry Widow Revue” A Frank Cambria New York Stage Production
F)Bebe Daniels in “Feel My Pulse” with Richard Arlen & William Powell

Gooper on May 21, 2008 at 7:11 pm

There’s a nice 8-page article on the Paramount in the Spring ‘08 issue of 'Columbia, The Magazine of Northwest History’.

I happened to work at the Paramount in ‘76-'78, and we had everyone from Joan Baez to the Communist Party of America convention, with Muddy Waters, the Spinners, the Bay City Rollers, and Steve Martin in between. Great times, but the house was falling apart. I personally stopped several acts of vandalism (idiots trying to bust off wall sconces, etc.) but everybody was always in awe of the place. At some concerts, you could get high just by normal breathing, and it wasn’t just when the Grateful Dead were there. One New Years Eve concert, I dropped a bunch of balloons from the great dome. All the projection hardware was intact, but neglected. I remember seeing a CinemaScope lens over in the corner as if it were
garbage. They rescued the place just in time.

HowardBHaas on October 8, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Almost exactly one year ago, Vince Young asked for interior photos. I’ve gathered a selection of them from flickr searching. This theater looks beautiful!

Stunning Grand LOBBY:
View link

Proscenium Arch framing stage:
View link
Auditorium side wall & facing stage:
Balcony facing projection booth:
From stage towards balcony:
Balcony side walls:

Women’s restroom LOUNGE:

poirotsj on October 1, 2007 at 4:52 am

I worked at the Paramount around ‘73 and '74. I was trying to remember all the shows we saw there in those days.. here are some that I could recall: Santana, Weather Report, Peter Frampton, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason, Jackson Brown, Eagles, Sly and the Family Stone, Jerry Jeff Walker, Quicksilver Messenger Service, It’s A Beautiful Day, Blue Oyster Cult, (I think Kiss too), Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Earth Wind and Fire, John McGlaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra.. I know that there were many more.. does anyone remember what some of the others were? Prior to my time working there, I also saw Stevie Wonder there (probably around '70), and I believe that Canned Heat, Yes and the Greatful Dead had also played there.

HowardBHaas on September 13, 2007 at 12:42 am

Rob Bender’s recent exterior photo especially the wonderful towering vertical sign:

View link

BarryMonush on August 24, 2007 at 8:31 pm

This is one of the most beautiful theatres I have ever had the privilege to sit in. I was in Seattle recently where I saw the pre-Broadway tryout of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN here and I was astounded to think that this was the way people used to go to the movies on a casual basis – how lucky they were! This place is so huge you can sit in the front of the mezzaine and not even be aware of those people all the way in the back. If you’re planning a visit to Seattle, try to see something here – it’s worth the visit.

Ron Carlson
Ron Carlson on August 17, 2007 at 1:40 am

Just attended Young Frankenstein and have to admit the show was Fantastic. The theater also looked great and a very full house is always nice. These big houses always shine when they are full.

veyoung52 on October 7, 2006 at 2:33 pm

Does anybody on earth have fotos of the Cinerama installation at the Paramount? I have exterior, but am looking for auditorium shots. Thanks, all.Vince

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on October 7, 2006 at 1:32 pm

A look a the very colorful and ornate PARAMOUNT marquee.