Paramount Theatre

2025 Broadway,
Oakland, CA 94612

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Showing 26 - 50 of 68 comments

trainmaster
trainmaster on January 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

If you are brave enough to send your e-mail address to me at (), I can send you photos of the original marquee as well as the present one. I really prefer the original marquee as it was designed by Pfleuger to go with the theater.

By the way, the second Fox-Oakland, on Telegraph Avenue, also had
a different marquee from 1928 to the 1940’s and it was remodeled with more chrome and a different marquee. I can include photos of those if you like.

Trainmaster

KJB2012
KJB2012 on January 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm

never seen the original marquee. Did it have a lot of neon?

trainmaster
trainmaster on January 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Speaking of theater lobbys, be sure to include the Roxy Rotunda in New York as well as the Radio City Music Hall as ones to be admired.

trainmaster

trainmaster
trainmaster on January 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I wish the original marquee could be re-constructed. Since so much money was spent to restore the theater to it’s prestine 1930 condition, it would be nice to bring back a restored original marquee, since the original was demolished in 1965 during the building of the 19th street Bart station!

trainmaster

fkrock
fkrock on September 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

The radio station where I worked broadcast Oakland Symphony concerts. After the symphony purchased the Paramount I was called to consult about facilities needed for broadcasts. I toured the theater before restoration began. Here are a few observations:

The theater was very much like Hollywood. It was all show. In public areas it was luxurious and glamorous. As soon as you left a public area you were in a world of unpainted concrete and naked light bulbs. Oakland Symphony did paint much of the concrete during restoration.

Everything was built as cheaply as possible. The structural steel parts were approximately one half the size of those used in the San Francisco Opera House that was about the same size as the Paramount.

Money had not been spent to apply finished concrete to the auditorium floor. It was rough and unfinished under the carpet.

The auditorium originally had accoustical problems. Horsehair mats had been glued to the back wall of the theater. Perforated canvas painted gold covered the horsehair. This was an early form of accoustical tiles. Since the auditorium did not have enough reverberation for a concert hall, this accoustical treatment was removed as part of the restoration.

Every movie theater has what is called a skylight that will provide a minimum amount of illumination so patrons will not fall if they have to enter or leave their seats while the movie is playing. The original skylight was provided by incandescant light fixtures focused on the building ceiling. A suspended ceiling was about 8 feet inder the true ceiling. Light came through extensive grill work in the suspended ceiling.

The original skylights in the Paramount used so much electricity that they had been replaced with neon tubes to save money. Many of these neon lights no longer worked. I believe today the Paramount uses the original incandescent skylights on the rare occasions that movies are shown.

RickB
RickB on June 8, 2010 at 3:15 pm

The ex-Paramount organ may soon be on the market as the restaurant that housed it is closing. Sarasota Herald-Tribune story here.

darquil
darquil on April 24, 2010 at 11:45 pm

I’ve posted information and photos from several recent visits:
2/5/2010
3/5/2010
3/26/2010

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on March 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

The tour is well worth taking especially if you are are a fan of art deco; I think it is probably the best surviving example of an art deco theater except perhaps for Radio City Music Hall. I think it is breathtaking.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 15, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Very nice looking place.Good to see its still up and running.

darquil
darquil on February 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Current seating capacity is 2998 (source: this morning’s tour, and page 93 of “The Oakland Paramount” (Susannah Harris Stone, 1992).

RickB
RickB on August 16, 2009 at 10:08 am

The organ from this theater is now at Roaring 20’s Pizza and Pipes in Ellenton, Florida. According to a flyer from the restaurant it arrived there after stints at Ken’s Melody Inn in Los Altos, California and the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis (where it was enlarged and rebuilt). It went to Florida after a plan to send it to a museum in Germany fell through.

hlallo
hlallo on May 15, 2009 at 8:04 pm

I lived in Oakland in the mid 1980’s and enjoyed the classic film night they had for a time. It was a fantastic experience and I even got my employer to contribute to the door prizes they had. Sure am sad to hear from the other posts that they haven’t expanded on that.

I agree with another person who mentioned the docent tours. I actually took many of my friends on the tours and one such memorable tour was given by a young lady (75 years old) who fondly told stories of her childhood and the part the theater played in her love life. The history and information provided you can’t hear anywhere else in Oakland. When we were in the restrooms she stopped to lecture the tour on how her mother kept all her children from wetting the beds – no liquids after 8pm! Twenty years later and I still can mention that to my friends that took that tour and we all laugh fondly.

I really hope that this theater can find it’s place again in the East Bay.

spectrum
spectrum on January 30, 2009 at 11:50 am

The THSA 2008 Conclave has a large set of photos on Flickr at View link

Here are their photos for the Oakland Paramount:

View link – vertical sign
View link – exterior detail
View link – vertical sign View link – marquee
View link – auditorium from stage
View link – Auditorium from stage
View link – Auditorium
View link – Auditorium details
View link – front facade
View link – auditorium ceiling – blue lighting
View link – Proscenium
View link – Main Lobby
View link – main Lobby
View link – Main Lobby
View link – Main Lobby Staircase
View link – Organ
View link – Ornamental Details
View link – Auditorium Ceiling – Golden Lighting

Warren G. Harris
Warren G. Harris on December 22, 2008 at 7:13 am

With great sadness, I must report the recent passing of Steve Levin, who died on December 13th following a brief illness. Steve, who came from a family of movie exhibitors, was one of the leaders of the campaign to save the Oakland Paramount, and was probably the foremost authority on its history. He once took me a guided tour of the Paramount which took more than four hours as he pointed out and explained very detail along the way. Steve was a founding member of Theatre Historical Society of America, also serving for a number of years as the editor of Marquee. its quarterly journal. Steve will be greatly missed by all who knew and admired him.

MPol
MPol on December 6, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Love that photograph!! Thanks for posting it, whoever did.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on November 18, 2008 at 8:22 am

Glad to see the Paramount showing classic films again such as “Singing in the Rain”. They need to keep this going on a regular schedule in order to build a following.brucec

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on October 19, 2007 at 11:38 am

The lobby of the Paramount is one of the most impressive I have ever seen and I have seen many. The Pantages in Hollywood also has an impressive lobby as well as the late great Fox Theatre in San Francisco. I wish the Paramount would bring back a film series of quality films from all decades and if they don’t maybe the restored Fox Oakland would. I love the marquees of both the Paramount and the Fox Oakland they are quite impressive and among the best in the nation.We should have a contest and ask members what are the top 20 curren theatre marquees left in the nation.brucec

terrywade
terrywade on August 18, 2007 at 8:38 am

the Paramount only has a few more months before they see the big Fox Oakland down the street take over what they are not doing. They don’t show movies and run the place very stuffy. The Paramount needs to put in a bar on the main level and let people drink inside the theatre. Book the place for all the Bay Area. Don’t forget the seniors. If the New Fox Oakland is going rock music shows be smart and book classic shows that they will not book. Both theatres will bring new people into the downtown Oakland area. Just take Bart to the door. See what other big former theatres are doing like the Fox Atlanta. Fox Saint Louis and the Fox Detroit. Bring in the Radio City Rockettes for a Oakland Paramount Xmass show like the Fox Detroit does, it sells out 4,000 seats! If you can’t manage the place and bring in money look to getting a booking company that can and stop crying about the Fox Oakland coming into town!

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on July 21, 2007 at 11:19 am

When are they going to btring back a classic movie series from each decade?. If it was programmed correctly it would do very well as in the past. The Paramount has enough free time to include this series. Lets get a little creative and use this theatre to its full potential. The Fox will be coming online in 2009 so it would be wonderful to use film to fill in the gaps.brucec

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 4, 2006 at 7:31 am

The Oakland Tribune had a story on the theater’s re-opening in June 1933:

PARAMOUNT THEATER WILL OPEN TOMORROW
Paramount to Open Doors at 11:30 Friday

Tomorrow, at noon, Oakland’s Paramount Theater once again throws open its doors to offer this city motion picture entertainment
ot the finest type in a surrounding of luxury. The Paramount’s policy will present one feature picture each week. In addition each program will be enhanced by the highest grade comedies, scenics, cartoons and other short subjects plus Paramount news items.

The first feature picture on the Paramount screen for the week
starting tomorrow will be the Paramount “International House,"
comedy featuring 14 stars, 140 girls and offering enough comedy to provoke 1400 laughs. Second in importance on the program will be a 30 minute subject "Isle of Desire,” said to be something new in screen entertainment enacted by a South Sea native cast and resembling in story a Jack London fabled journey into this picturesque clime. A “Popeye” cartoon will add to the laughs of the new show, coupled with other short subjects and news reviews.

The doors of the Paramount will open at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow to
afford visitors opportunity to wander through the foyers, lounge
rooms, mezzanine and the mural rooms before seeking their seat for
the first show. Under the direction of Fox West Coast Theaters, the Paramount will be operated on the new low price schedule of 25 cents matinee until 1 p.m., 30 cents from 1 until 5 p.m. and 40 cents at night. Change of program will be made every Friday.

The Paramount Theater is regarded as the finest in terms of architecture, fittings, and comfort on the Pacific Coast. Its opening
definitely places Oakland first on the Coast in possession of superior theater edifices, and under the operation of Fox West Coast Theaters the Paramount is assured of the finest feature pictures produced by the leading Hollywood studios. The management of the theater will be under the veteran direction of A. M. Bowles, head of Fox West Coast Theaters in Northern California, aided by Richard Spier, district manager, and Frank Burhans, resident manager. A large staff of employees have been secured, which will add to the yearly payroll of Oakland.

jaxsterman
jaxsterman on October 13, 2006 at 7:48 pm

I am trying to remember… wasn’t there a large waterfall on the main floor entrance? As a young boy this theater was just awesome. I don’t have words to describe it. during the late forties and early fifties along with the other local(Alameda)theaters, I spent alot of Saturday and Friday nights watching first rate movies with my Grandmother(raised me). IF you are from a small New England town, where I preside now, you can’t possibly imagine the overwhelming depth this “grand” theater had in the heyday of movies. I was young and small, and when entering the lobby, the ceiling appeared to be a mile high.
One could always depend on a first rate film to be shown there. Along with the Old Fox, this must have been the largest theater in Oakland. Saturday night was dressing up(in proper attire) and seeing a good movie. You were not disappointed when leaving this beatiful theater.It’s just sad that those bygone days are__ gone.

William
William on April 12, 2006 at 8:06 am

The Paramount Oakland Theatre was placed on National Register of Historic Places on August 14th, 1973 and on the National Historic Landmark list on May 5th, 1977. The Paramount Theatre opened on December 16th, 1931. Fox West Coast Theatres agreed to sublease the theatre on Dec. 10th 1930 upon completion. The Paramount Theatre closed on September 15th, 1970 by National General Theatres. The Paramount Theatre was operated for it’s entire life as a movie theatre by Fox West Coast Theatres. After the Sept. 15th closing date the theatre operated one day each month ( to maintain the building) for a private bank screenings till National General
Theatres could find a buyer.