125 4th Avenue NE,
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Paramount Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc.
Architects: Thomas Farr Ellerbe
Firms: Ellerbe & Company
Functions: Performing Arts
Opened in September 1929, the Paramount Theatre, which originally seated 914, was designed in the Atmospheric style. It was designed by the firm of Ellerbe & Company.
Its auditorium resembled a Spanish courtyard, with a ‘starry sky’ on the ceiling. The side walls were decorated with scenes of the Spanish countryside, divided by colonades.
It contained a small stage and orchestra pit since it hosted both live shows as well as films in its first couple decades. The exterior was built in the Spanish Baroque style, with decorative terra-cotta work and an arched window over the marquee.
The Paramount Theatre continued to delight the citizens of Austin for nearly half a century, before it was closed in 1975.
From the late-1970’s into the late-1980’s, the former theater served as everything from a nightclub, to a teen dance club, to a comedy club before closing again and standing vacant for several years.
The Paramount Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, as one of the few Atmospheric style theatres remaining in Minnesota.
The Austin Area Commission for the Arts was formed in 1990 and purchased the theatre two years later with the intent of transforming it into a performing arts center and a venue for classic films, concerts, and civic events. It will also be home to the Matchbox Children’s Theatre.
Since 1996, restoration work has begun in earnest, and much has already been completed. The roof has been replaced, the lobby repainted in its original colors, and a 1950’s era marquee removed and replaced with a replica of the original 1929 one.
The restoration of the Paramount Theatre has been completed, the theatre is now alive with performances both live and on-screen, and is once again the centerpiece of downtown Austin.
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