Paramount Theatre

352 Cypress Street,
Abilene, TX 79601

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Paramount Theatre

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The Paramount Theatre in Abilene opened its doors on May 19, 1930, and most of the city turned out to witness the fanfare, which included the Carole Lombard film “Safety In Numbers” and a blazing marquee lit with over 1,400 electric bulbs up and down the 90-foot marquee.

Built in an Atmospheric Spanish style, its 1,403-seat auditorium resembled a Spanish-Moorish courtyard, complete with arches and gateways, and a deep blue, star-lit sky on the ceiling. The lobby, mezzanine and foyer areas were equally dazzling, with tilework, handblown glass lamps, oil paintings, and ornate bronze statuary on the stairs leading to the balcony.

During WWII, the Paramount was heavily frequented by soldiers from the nearby Camp Barkley who enjoyed live stage shows and feature films. The Paramount continued to remain open until the mid-1970’s, when Abilene’s downtown business district began to decline. In 1979, it reopened briefly as the Paramount Opry, a country music venue.

In 1984, the Paramount Theatre was slated for demolition, but a month prior to the date wrecking was to begin, a group of concerned citizens with a love for the old palace formed the Paramount Committee, and secured the deed. An anonymous buyer purchased the theater and provided generous funds with which to restore the Paramount to its former glory.

From 1985 to 1987, the Paramount Theatre underwent a painstaking restoration, as well as being given state of the art projection, sound, and lighting equipment. The Paramount’s renovation received the prestigious Texas Award for Historic Preservation from the Texas Historical Commission.

The Paramount Theatre had its grand reopening in 1987 and now is home to the popular Classic Film Series, as well as concerts, stage shows, and orchestra performances. The Abilene Paramount is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the League of Historic American Theaters.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

p1214j714 on February 19, 2008 at 12:33 pm

So glad the Paramount was saved for future generations to see what a real theater is like. Such a greater experience than the small places of today. One of my vivid memories was the Saturday midnight horror movies. I knew one of the ushers and once during a horror movid involving a talking head he sneaked up behind us and put a fake head down in front of us. We almost went off the balcony. I really miss the Paramount and would love to take my grandsons to a movie there. Hopefully one day I can take them from Oklahoma to Abilene for that.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 29, 2008 at 9:34 pm

The architect for the restoration of the Paramount Theatre was Killis Almond, of Killis Almond & Associates, a San Antonio, Texas, based firm specializing in the restoration of historic buildings. Click on their “Projects” link to find a link to a page about this theater, as well as links to pages about some of their other theater projects.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on January 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

A 2008 view of the Paramount Theatre and the box office in Abilene.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on November 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm

From 1995 and 2009, a set of Paramount Theatre photos.

TLSLOEWS on April 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Great shots of the good-looking theatre, I wonder how many PARAMOUNT theatres there have been in the U.S?

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on August 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm

From the 1940s a postcard view of the Paramount Theatre in Abilene.

Steven Rogers
Steven Rogers on December 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Cecil Bellew was manager of the Paramount Theater and then the Westwood Theater.

Trolleyguy on June 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm

The Paramount’s marquee was featured prominently in a “Cold Case Files” episode about a robbery and killing in a jewelry store down the street from the theatre.

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