Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center
2001 Farnam Street,
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Rose Blumkin P.A.C. (Official)
Architects: John Adolph Emil Eberson
Functions: Performing Arts
Previous Names: Riviera Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Astro Theatre
News About This Theater
- Jan 11, 2014 — Omaha World Herald photos
The Riviera Theatre was built in 1926 and opened on March 26, 1927 with Adolphe Menjou in “Evening Clothes”. It was built by A.H Blank, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures Inc. Two years after opening on May 9, 1929 it was re-named Paramount Theatre. It was distinctive for its unusual Atmospheric style Moorish and Italian Renaissance architecture, a combination seldom seen in the Midwest.
Designed by nationally known theatre architect John Eberson, its exterior focal point is a large copper domed tower, flanked by two smaller towers of similar detailing. The diamond-patterned brick facades contain oriel windows, elaborate cornices, glazed terra-cotta tile copings, and a series of free-standing columns which support griffins.
The courtyard Atmospheric interior, labelled Hispano-Italian by Eberson, had a sky-like domed ceiling painted dark blue with small, recessed incandescent twinkling lights simulating stars on a tropical night, with artificial fleecy clouds. The lower lobby had water fountains and aquariums filled with goldfish. The orchestra pit and Wurlitzer theatre organ could be raised or lowered with hydraulic jacks. Both stage productions and motion pictures were presented.
Frome 1952 the theatre was mostly dark, with only a few stage shows being presented and a brief period when it was used by Omaha’s Bowling League. Following a renovation and being taken over by the Dubinsky Brothers chain, it reopened in June 1962 with a reduced seating capacity of 1,465 as the Astro Theatre with James Stewart in “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. It had a 70ft wide screen and was equipped with 70mm projectors. The huge corner wrap-around marquee, which had become a problem to maintain, was covered by a vinyl material and a single large name and program sign erected above the corner. The Astro Theatre closed in the early-1980’s, and in the late-1990’s faced the wrecking ball.
Most fortunately, Mrs. Rose Blumkin, a wealthy Omaha business woman, purchased it from Creighton University and completely restored the theatre to its original opulence. The theatre reopened as the the Rose Blumkin Peforming Arts Center, after its saviour.
The theatre is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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