715 Front Street,
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Previous Names: Gibbon Opera House
The Gibbon Opera House was home to the Paramount Theatre, a silent-era movie house in downtown Gibbon. Built by L.J. Babcock, it opened with live performances on October 26, 1892. The opera house was on the second floor and the multi-purpose building had various retail outlets on the ground floor. On November 1, 1906, the Opera House presented motion pictures including “Mepisto’s Son” and “Three American Beauties”.
The exposure to movies continued four the next five years. Interest was such that in 1911, the town got the first of three venues for full-time silent films in the Joy Theatre which closed as the Gem Theatre in the Fall of 1912. But Babcock would sell the Opera House in October of 1921 to R.A. St. John and L.A. Kirk. On November 3, 1921, the pair began full time motion pictures under the Gibbon Opera House moniker.
On February 3, 1922, the operators changed the name to the Paramount Theatre after striking a new contract for films. It launched with Wallace Reid in “Hawthorne of the U.S.A.” supported by a two-reel Century Comedy short.
The Dreamland Theatre opened as the third and final silent film operation in January of 1924. It was said to be one of the few towns in Nebraska with under 1,000 people to try to support two full-time movie theatres. And it turned out that the town could not support both operations. They agreed to a merger on effective after the Paramount Theatre’s final show on November 21, 1925. The theatre operators said humbly that after more than 300 different programs offered in its time span, they felt great about not having to apologize for a single booking. The final show at the paramount Thetare was James Cruse’s “The Pony Express”.
The venue was renamed the Gibbon Opera House but did not return to motion pictures. It operated for another 33 years housing such business as the Pay-‘n’-Takit Grocery and the Brogan Tavern. The final event at the Gibbon Opera House was the annual Halloween Dance in 1958. One October 10, 1962, the vacant venue burned down leaving its façade and parts of the stage. The building was razed in January of 1963. The land was acquired by the city of Gibbon and was later replaced with a local government building.
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