Paramount Theatre

560 Bay Street,
Staten Island, NY 10304

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Showing 151 - 175 of 239 comments

Vito on July 13, 2006 at 7:14 am

Just a note: In the early days of stereo sound, many of the larger theatres used large A-7 type speakers for surrounds, usually mounted in the rear or extreame left and right of the stage, the three stage speakers were usually A-5 type speakers. Today, the surrounds are mounted in the ceilings or along the side and back walls, and are much smaller and efficent. As I recall, the speakers for the Paramount were Altec. The movie sound system RCA

Vito on July 13, 2006 at 6:20 am

Yes Ken, that is correct as I recall, the organ was removed about the same time as CinemaScope was installed. It was during the installation of the two Altec A-7 surround speakers which were used for stereo sound and mounted at both sides of the proscenium.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 13, 2006 at 6:06 am

Further details on the Wurlitzer organ. It was shipped from the Wurlitzer factory on 28th August 1930 and the slave (second) console was shipped on 7th October 1930 which gives a more accurate date to the opening of the theatre (October 1930?). The instrument was Opus #2129 with two BAL 4 style consoles (a similar instrument was installed in 1931 in the Paramount Theatre, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, UK which was a 3Manual/19Rank instrument).

The Stapleton Paramount Wurlitzer was opened by Betty Gould and Priscilla Holbrook (who called herself ‘Jean’). They were billed on the marquee as Betty & Jean at the mighty Wurltizer. Betty remained at the Paramount until June 1931 when she left due to illness. Other organists to work on the twin consoles were John Winters and Leo Weber. Other resident organists at the theatre were Don Baker who spent two years here and Bill Floyd.

The organ was removed in 1953 (possibly when Cinemascope was installed in the theatre) and it went to a private residence in Jamaica, Queens, NY.

Vito on July 13, 2006 at 4:42 am

Excellent post Ken, I worked the house for many years starting as an usher/curtain puller/marguee changer, and later worked the projection booth. I still recall the CinemaScope installation we did on Christmas eve 1953 and the grand re-opening in 1961 with “Flower Drum Song”. We also ran a lot of 3-D movies and installed the floating skeleton which was called Emergo for “House on Haunted Hill” in 1959. I will never forgive the Steckmans for allowing the savages, who leased the theatre from them, to do so much damage while in their care.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on July 13, 2006 at 4:25 am

Recent(June 2006) photographs that I took of the Paramount Theatre:

The Paramount Theatre was built by Paramount Publix Theatres and was operated in conjunction with the Moses bothers who built and operated several cinemas on the island.

It was a splendid Art Deco style theatre, designed late in the careers of noted theatre architects Rapp & Rapp with a seating capacity given as 2,300 in the Film Daily Yearbook;1930 edition. It had a twin console Wurlitzer theatre organ (one of only 10 theatres in the USA to be equipped with twin consoles) and it also presented live vaudeville shows with its movie programmes. Stars who appeared ‘live’ on stage here include;Gary Cooper, Mary Pickford, Richard Arlen, Miriam Hopkins and Mae West.

In 1961, while under the ownership of Fabian Theatres, the theatre underwent a $35,000 renovation and was closed for four weeks. It re-opened as the New Paramount with new wider seating and aisles, this reduded the seating capacity to 2,000.

Bt September 1980 it had closed as a movie theatre and was being advertised as the Paramount Nightclub, presenting disco and new wave entertainment on Friday & Saturday nights from 10:00pm. But this was a short lived venture and the building became a live rock venue from October 1980 when a new sound system was installed. This new use lasted only a few years, closing in the mid to late-1980’s. I believe this was the last use for the building and it has remained closed and shuttered since then.

Garth on July 12, 2006 at 12:55 pm

i’ve driven by several times since my last posting , all i’ve seen is bags of garbage behind the steel gate , i guess it was being removed from inside. if i see anything or get inside again i will post.

Vito on July 12, 2006 at 11:16 am

Gustavelifting, I have been inside a couple of times since the new owners took over, sadly there is very little left of the ole girl.

uncleal923 on July 11, 2006 at 8:34 pm

Go back in there. If the theater can be saved then try. I heard that something was going on there from friends on Staten Island, and my family plans to move there in the future. Please keep us posted.

Vito on June 13, 2006 at 4:45 am

Garth, seeing what has become of that wonderful theatre is rather heartbreaking, I wish I had not gone inside. I would be interested in knowing what the plans for the building are.

Garth on June 12, 2006 at 4:40 pm

driving by today i saw new ads on the marquee , a metal gate out front that i had never seen , and the interior doors were open. i saw several asian gentlemen bringing equipment into the site , so i immediately approached the man who seemed to be in charge. i explained that i was a movie theatre enthusiast who had gone there in my youth and asked if i could have a look around , so i could report my findings back to this website. he said he was aware of the website but was nervous about letting me in , saying something about it being dangerous because of the work going on. i asked him what the owners plans were and he said “he’s not sure” , then i managed to get into the lobby. i know that vito has posted about the state of the place , but what i saw was a complete train wreck. he said i couldnt go any further but that if i come back next week he would let me look around. im not sure i want to at this point , and he may have been blowing me off. i will reort back next week.

Vito on March 23, 2006 at 4:36 am

I don’t know that the 300 unit condo proposed for the Citibank property will help Stapelton in it’s decline, but it’s a start.
It’s not the same developer who purchased the Paramount buiding which seems to be in limbo.

Garth on March 22, 2006 at 3:43 pm

evidently they are building condos on the municipal lot across the street , wonder if this will accelerate development of the site?…..

Vito on March 5, 2006 at 5:00 am

I believe another posiblity over confussion about the theatre being used as a sporting goods store, may have been the sign that was placed over the theatre marquee which read Steckman Sporting Goods.
The glass panels on the marquee had begin to break, so Steckman decided to cover over the panels with a sign to prevent further damage and promote their sporting goods store.

Vito on March 5, 2006 at 4:49 am

I know for an absolute fact, the Paramount was never a sporting goods store. The Steckman brothers, who owned the building, ran a sporting goods store out of three stores connected to the theatre.
When UA pulled out of the theatre, Steckman leased the theatre to a night club owner who turned it into one of the most popular dance clubs on Staten Island, with big name musical stage performers. The people running the club were very respectfull of the theatre, other than the removal of one third of the orchestra seating to create a dance floor,they did little in the way of change or renovation to the theatre, in fact they repaired much of the stage rigging and were able to get the marquee lighting working again. After a few years a bad element began to take over and things began to go downhill, a performnce of “Nutcracker” had to be cancelled as management began to fall, problems with state taxes and rowdy crowds eventually forced the thetare to close. A short time later Stecman leased the property once agian to a night club owner, this time however, they were not so respectfull, and caused much damage to the original theatre, removing all orchestra seating, breaking down walls, painting over murals and removing light fixtures. The new people lasted a very short time and Steckman was once again without a tenant. Steckman had the property up for lease for a while with no takers, they decided to retire and sell the entire property, theatre and store fronts. Steckman had begun using the theatre for storage of sporting goods which may explain the confussion of it being used as a sporting goods store, in fact the last time I was in the building it was full of boxes and equipment being stored inside.

kencmcintyre on March 4, 2006 at 7:26 pm

Here is a boxing card dated Wednesday, April 29, 1981:

Paramount Theatre, Staten Island, New York

Carmelo Negron 122 W Edwin Santiago 128 TKO 3 8
Lightweight Johnny Verderosa 131 W Ron Aurit 132 TKO 7 8
Welterweight Robert Thomas 147 L Frank Morgante 145 PTS 4 4
Pablo Pizzarro 174 W Furgan Ali 181 TKO 3 4
Lightweight Raymond (Ramon) Ortiz 134½ W Ben Fuentes 134 TKO 1 4
Heavyweight Dennis Reilly 210 W Al Monday 181 TKO 1 4
Welterweight Johnny Marrone 147 W Sal Travella 147 KO 1 4

kencmcintyre on March 4, 2006 at 7:13 pm

Was the Paramount ever used to sell sporting goods? This is from a site detailing the history of Staten Island:

Just beyond [on Bay Street] is the site of Commodore Vanderbilt’s childhood home. It was demolished in 1922 to make way for the Paramount Theatre, which today houses a sporting goods store. This was “The Commodore’s” Childhood home. With his mother’s encouragement he began his first venture in shipping by purchasing and offering for hire a small sail craft. He was born on Long Island. After marriage he built a Greek Revival mansion nearby.

Vito on March 4, 2006 at 2:49 pm

Last I heard, the developer was interested in keeping the Paramount
name for the property, however most of the exterior is in very bad condition. The original Box-office is still outside but very dilapidated. The marquee is in very sorry condition as well, with most of the glass and bulbs broken. You can stil see where the one sheets were located and the original lobby doors are still there.
I toured the property just over a year ago, I was allowed to take the marquee letters to spell out my name, which is now hanging in my basement. I still remember as a teen working the Paramouint and changing that marquee in the rain and snow. Sigh!

NativeForestHiller on March 4, 2006 at 1:50 pm

Thank you for the update, Vito! At the very least, I hope the exterior can be landmarked. I have never visited the theater, but it’s sad that most developers of today have no feelings for history and beautiful architecture. Please keep me up to date. Thanks again!

Vito on March 4, 2006 at 4:45 am

Sadly, I believe the ship has sailed on that one, I don’t believe there is much left to landmark. I visited the theatre just after it had been sold to a developer, and there wasn’t much left of the ole gal. The last tenant, a nightclub, had pretty much trashed the place. The new owner already has all the permits to gut the interior and I believe that may have already been done. I have driven by a few times lately and there is a sign for rental space availabilty, perhaps someone knows what is going on now. Jean, do you have any updates? I still get a lump in my throat when ever I drive by, it was a magnificent theatre.

NativeForestHiller on March 3, 2006 at 9:47 pm

I strongly support landmarking of the Paramount Theatre, a true Art Deco gem. Please share any updates concerning this theater. Thank you!

yankeed on January 24, 2006 at 5:45 am

Check out ebay item # 6247119070 This is a original paramount light fixture

Vito on December 28, 2005 at 9:45 am

I would be first in line for that effort, however I believe most of the interior has been gutted, little is left. Perhaps someone knows more, there does not appear to be anything going on, any work seems to have stopped. Last time I went inside, the sale had just gone through, it was in shambles, quite frankly I wish I had not seen it in that condition. Perhaps Jean knows more.

mattfinn on December 28, 2005 at 6:43 am

Hi All and Happy Holidays!
Just visited Stapleton for the first time ever and couldn’t help noticing The Paramount. It would be a huge mistake to tear it down when it could become an anchor for the area. It reminds me of the Loew’s Jersey City, which was renovated by volunteers. Is anybody up for forming a group to see if the owner could be convinced to allow a volunteer renovation. Here is the web site for Friends of the Loew’s for more info:

Jean on October 14, 2005 at 5:05 am

I am “out there” Vito.
Just email me at

Garth on October 13, 2005 at 5:50 pm

my local source states the owner plans to sell the property to a developer for conversion to apartments.