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This was the second of two atmospheric theaters by Rapp and Rapp. The other was the Paramount in Toledo, Ohio now demolished
The entire area around and including the Showcase Cinema complex had changed dramatically. Two hotels, retail space now occupy the former cinema site. The former Ramada? Hotel was demolished with plans to build yet another hotel. This will only make an existing traffic problem worse for commuters. Have you ever driven on Secor Rd near the interstate at rush hour?
I had read that the Block family of the Toledo Blade had been foremost in rallying to demolish the Paramount for parking for their employees. True or not the Blade layed off their workers after out sourcing their printing, what a shame. Short sightedness led to the loss of a architectural treasure. Toledo tried to make up for their stupidity by remodeling the Valentine. That effort although generally nice was not a restoration but more of an interpretation. They left an open ceiling which I personally thought was tacky. The new glass lobby doesn’t fit with the original architechture. For example they simply painted the old outside brick wall that used to face an alley leaving part of an unused fire escape, tacky again. The Fox in Detroit was a true restoration. It is by far a better example of true theater architecture. Toledo has made several bad descisions when it comes to preservation and revitalizing downtown.
According to all other photos posted of the Toledo Paramount Theater, this is not the Paramount in Toledo. Auditorium entrance was from a huge rotunda with a statue in the middle of the terrazo floor.
The Princess closed in 1969 and was demolished to make way for the Toledo Edison’s new building.
The last 70mm “Cinerama” I saw here was 2001 A Space Odyssey in 1977.
Yes it is. It was twinned at some point as was Cinema 3. I remember seeing films here such as Earthquake, House of Wax in 3D and Dial M For Murder also in 3D. Flat screen.
The Showcase complex was indeed vacant and unused up to the time of demolition. It remains vacant although I do recall seeing a “sold” sign on the for sale sign. Of note the Super Cinema complex at Spring Meadows has been sold and they are going to demolish it for a furniture store. It was a"shoebox cinema" with small auditoriums and flat screens. I am guessing that the curved screen at Cinema 1 was curved to approx. 120 degrees for 70mm TODD-AO, Super Panavision etc. According to Stanley Kramer who directed It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World the film was marketed as a “Cinerama” film and filmed in Ultra Panavision…he said that they had trouble trying to make it fit on some Cinerama screens and was not impressed with the fact that they promoted it as a Cinerama film when in fact it wasn’t.
I knew a guy who played the organ at the Mastbaum and other movie palaces of the time. He was a classically trained pianist and also played for President Truman. He has been gone for many years. He sounded like W.C. Fields when he talked.
The lobby having been demolished reveals a view of the rotunda where you can make out the right staircase leading up to the mezzanine.
This is a picture of Rapp and Rapp’s Gateway Theater in Chicago. It opened in June of 1930 and was the second of only two atmospheric theaters designed by Rapp and Rapp. The other being the Toledo Paramount Theater. The Gateway is still standing and can be viewed in Cinema treasures. This photo has often been mistaken as the Toledo Paramount but actually was not as ornate or as large as the Toledo Paramount. Sadly the Paramount in Toledo met with the wrecking ball in 1965.
As a side note. After the Princess theater was demolished they had the screen and boxes of misc. things from the Princess stored in the basement of the Valentine. I saw all the junk on a private tour of the place in 1976 after the Valentine had closed for good as a movie theater.
Saw Gone With The Wind there in 1968 in 70mm. Not very impressed. Small screen, bad sound.
Saw many a movie there as a kid…always thought that they had the best kiddie playground. Remember…“the show will start in five minutes…!
Thank you wcjfrisk for your insight into the Esquire Theater. I always wondered about those arches on the side. I was always under the assumption that the Esquire was a newly built theater from the ground up. Of all the downtown theaters I never saw a movie at the Esquire, Paramount, Loop or Royal. We always went to the Rivoli, Palace, Pantheon, Valentine or Princess…all on the same street.
All I remember of the place is that it opened in 1971 as the Jerry Lewis Cinemas. That’s right…funnyman Jerry Lewis had a chain of movie theaters in the early 1970’s. I remember seeing a photo in the lobby of Jerry Lewis at the grand opening. It was a typical mini-cinema of the day, a trend that had recently began in the early 1970’s of building shoe-box size movie theaters, many which still exist. The building is now a “beauty” college.
After the Paramount theater closed in 1963 Cinerama was given a new home at the Valentine a block away. They recycled two of the three lamp housings from the Paramount and attached them to 35/70mm projectors. The screen at the Valentine was impressive. They made the screen as large as possible and made two custom lenses for 70mm “Cinerama” presentations. The sound system was tube driven amplification and blew Cinema I away. When Cinema I got the rights to show Cinerama in 1966 the Valentine, having lost it’s bid to show 70mm Cinerama films, mothballed it’s curved screen and 70mm projection equipment and used a conventional screen which sat in front of the now unused Cinerama screen. In 1973 they brought it back, albeit for a short period, and began showing 70mm films on occasion once again. Due to lack of patronage downtown (go figure), the theater eventually closed for good. Cinema I kept the Cinerama screen at least up to 1977 when they showed 2001 Space Odyssey one last time in 70mm Super Panavision (Cinerama). It wasn’t bad but still did not compare to the Valentine’s 70mm installation.
As a note of interest…the Valentine Theater, which became the “new home” of Cinerama in 1964 after the Paramount Theater closed had to mothball the Cinerama equipment after Cinema I got the exclusive rights to show 70mm Cinerama films in early 1966. For a very brief time the Cinerama screen was brought back in April of 1973 through 1974. They showed the following in 70mm… Hello Dolly, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Fiddler On The Roof (blow-up), This Is Cinerama and Song of Norway. These were the only 70mm films I can recall them showing. The Valentine closed as a movie theater in 1975. The Valentine’s installation blew away the Cinema I installation…better screen, better sound system.
I feel that the Smilebox process is underutilized. There are many films aside from Cinerama films that could greatly benefit from this process. Many of the 70mm spectacles were shown on curved screens. With Blu ray’s capabilities both flat and Smilebox could be made available on such films.
Regarding above comment on Battle of the Bulge…this was shown in 70mm Ultra Panavision which was advertised to be in “Super Cinerama”. This was not a 3D film but gave you the effect of dimension. Ultra Panavision was NOT Cinerama it was only marketed as a Cinerama film when the 3 strip process proved to be too costly to make and Cinerama needed a new single lens venue to remain competitive.
I received a copy of the 1992 Theater Historical Society which is still available…check on Ebay. It is filled with archival photos from Rapp and Rapp. One can appreciate the beauty of this theater. As a child of nine I remember walking past the Paramount on the Huron St. side along with my mom and three siblings. I remember the tall vertical sign and was impressed. Never saw a movie there…probably too expensive for our family. The last time I remember seeing it was during the demolition phase…all that remained was the stage. A great loss for Toledo.
The Valentine was converted to a 70mm Cinerama theater in 1964 shortly after the 3-strip Cinerama installation was removed from the Paramount a block away. In fact two of the three lamp housings were reused at the Valentine for 70mm projection. The Cinerama installation lasted barely over two years when all 70mm Cinerama films were shown at the Showcase Cinema that had been recently built. The first Cinerama film shown there was The Battle of the Buldge in early 1966. The Cinerama equipment at the Valentine was mothballed until April of 1973 when in was briefly brought out of retirement and used for a couple of years until it’s closure in 1976. The theater now host live presentations.