Paramount Theatre

145 N. County Road,
Palm Beach, FL 33480

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rivest266 on May 7, 2016 at 3:50 pm

January 26th, 1972 grand reopening ad also in photo section.

rivest266 on May 6, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Another January 9th, 1927 grand opening ad in photo section.

jalvar on September 1, 2015 at 4:42 am

Urban was also the designer for Zigfield Follies and the Follies often rehersed in this theatre and did their preview performances here. He also was the architect for Maralago, the Merriwether Post estate in PB and spent a lot of time in the town. Pity its gone but with the competition of the Opera house it would be impossible to survive.

Patsy on November 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Wish the Town of Palm Beach had preserved this historical theatre!

rivest266 on November 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm

January 9th, 1927 grand opening ad has been posted here. Admission was $1.50-$2.00 ($18-$25) in today’s money. Palm Beach was an really expensive town at the time.

TLSLOEWS on August 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Very nice looking theatre.

Patsy on September 25, 2008 at 6:45 am

I just clicked on the name Joseph Urban and see that he also built 2 other large capacity theatres in NYC, but both of them have been demolished according to CT.

Patsy on April 28, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Yes, great photo! BTW, I never heard back from Beth Dunlop.

Harvey on April 28, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Very nice. Thanks for sharing it.

krayonc on April 28, 2008 at 2:39 pm

I was researching a photo postcard that my mom wants to list on ebay & found this site. Maybe you guys (& gals) would enjoy to see the photo??

View link

The movie showing was “The Country Doctor” and you can see Breakers in the distance.

If somebody right clicks & saves the photo, maybe you can add it to the site later…whatever you decide. Enjoy.

Patsy on March 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I’ve sent a fax to “a Beth Dunlop” in Miami, but no word as yet. The phone number went to a fax ring so I had to send word to her via the fax machine.

Harvey on March 28, 2008 at 11:20 am

Patsy: Very cool. Please let me know what she has to say.

Patsy on March 28, 2008 at 10:42 am

Harvey: And now I am trying to locate and contact the Beth Dunlop who wrote the Paramount 1982 article. If I reach her, I will let you know via email though only a My Space came up when clicking on your name and not a regular email address.

Patsy on March 28, 2008 at 6:45 am

“It has been the subject of protracted negotiations between the owner, First Southern Holdings, and the Palm Beach Town Council, but that didn’t save the movietheater as a theater.”

I can’t believe that the Palm Beach Town Council with all of their “island” wisdom couldn’t figure out a way to save their Joseph Urban designed theatre for future generations and future residents. At least the Miami Herald knew the importance of this theatre to take the time to write the 1982 article. In fact, I lived in the West Palm Beach area in 1982 and don’t recall the article though I wasn’t into theatres back then.

Patsy on March 28, 2008 at 6:41 am

Harvey: Very insightful article from 1982 yet the first paragraph really jumped out at me as the theatre did sit in Palm Beach where many wealthy residents could have figured “out a good way to save it”. A theatre with such “rich” illustrious history that became doomed and is now gone forever on Palm Beach!

Consider the plight of the Paramount: Nobody really wants to lose it, but nobody can figure out a good way to save it, either. It is a movietheater with no movies , a historic work of architecture with too few champions, an illustrious piece of Palm Beach’s history that may be doomed.

Harvey on March 27, 2008 at 11:36 pm


Miami Herald, The (FL) – June 13, 1982
Author: BETH DUNLOP Herald Architecture Critic

Consider the plight of the Paramount: Nobody really wants to lose it, but nobody can figure out a good way to save it, either. It is a movietheater with no movies , a historic work of architecture with too few champions, an illustrious piece of Palm Beach’s history that may be doomed.

The Paramount Theater was designed by Joseph Urban, once an architect for the Austrian emperor Franz Josef, later an architect and set designer for the American impresario Florenz

For the last two years — since the last movie – theater operator showed the last movie there — the Paramount has had a troubled status. It has been the subject of protracted negotiations between the owner, First Southern Holdings, and the Palm Beach Town Council, but that didn’t save the movietheater as a theater .

In the last year, the Palm Beach Preservation Foundation has searched vainly for a new theater operator or for someone to renovate and use the building. Richard Kearns, the preservation foundation president, has talked to movie – theater owners, film distributers, stage companies and others, to little avail. No one seems to want to run the Paramount, despite its architectural beauty and in-town Palm Beach location.

The latest idea to surface is to turn the 1,100-seat Paramount into a restaurant with a small theater . It is an idea that sparks some hope, and it certainly bodes better for the building than First Southern’s eventual plan of converting it into offices — a destiny incompatible with the Paramount’s past and its architecture.

The Paramount sits on a corner of South County Road, diagonally across from St. Edward’s Church. It has a covered arcade-like entrance, an open-air hallway flanked by shops that leads to a courtyard, which leads to the theater itself.

It is a beautifully proportioned, detailed building with a preposterous Islamic-style dome, invisible from inside the theater . The outside of the complex — the theater and the two- story extensions that wrap around the courtyard and form the
entrance — have delightfully inventive columns, some of which are capped with carved seagulls or masks of comedy and tragedy. There are Romanesque touches and Gothic arches.

Inside, the fan-shaped theater is a showcase of the best of Urban’s talents. It is as if one of his stage sets had come to life: wood ceilings and doweled wood doors and elongated chandeliers, wooden columns topped with the heads of bearded men — Neptune, possibly, or Shakespeare. Fish swim across iron grates, and a row of arches runs behind the balcony.

But all of that seems ordinary next to the extraordinary canvas murals covering the walls, floor to ceiling. The murals are painted in murky, luminescent sea colors — blues and greens and golds—and show huge fish swimming through lacy seaweed; they are much like storybook illustrations, decorative and enchanting.

Urban designed it all— the pattern in the rug, gold leaves set against a green background, the green geometric art deco pattern in the seat coverings. It was typical of him to orchestrate everything.

As an architect, Urban was ever the dramatist. He carefully chose the colors of his buildings, and the rich palettes he worked with ultimately got him his last commission, as the color specialist for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1932.

When the Paramount opened on Jan. 9, 1927 (the movie was Beau Geste with Ronald Colman), Urban asked the women of Palm Beach to dress in silks of seafoam green to blend with his color scheme. Or so legend has it.

Legend also has it that in attendance that night was Wilson Mizner, the journalist-pundit who wrote The Front Page and whose brother Addison was the primary architect of Palm Beach. Mizner, it is said, surveyed the crowds and the murals with all those gigantic fish. “My God,” he is reported to have muttered, “Harry Thaw shot the wrong man.”

(Harry Thaw was the Pittsburgh industrialist who two decades earlier—as the result of a love triangle— shot Stanford White, the architect of such magnificent New York City buildings as the old Penn Station, the old Madison Square Garden and the Villard houses. In a way, that was a compliment, even
from Wilson Mizner.)

Urban was born in Austria in 1872 and became an architect against family wishes. His first job was in Cairo, decorating the Abdin Palace for the Khedive of Egypt; in 1898, he designed a house for Count Esterhazy of Hungary. During that time he linked up with the Vienna Secessionists, among the earliest modern architects, and designed the Austrian exhibit for the Paris Exposition in 1900. Shortly after, he and 35 others resigned from the Secessionists to form their own organization, the Hagenbund.

Urban first came to the United States in 1904 as the designer of the Austrian Pavilion for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Four years later, he became the architect for the festival celebrating the 50th year of Franz Josef’s reign.

But in 1904, Urban also started his corollary career in set design, for the Royal Opera, then for the production of Pelleus and Melisande in Paris. In subsequent years, he would design sets for the Boston Opera, Covent Garden and the Metropolitan Opera. One writer estimated that Urban designed as many as 700 sets for 168 productions, including the Ziegfeld Follies. That doesn’t include the movie sets he designed.

As an architect, Urban designed only a few buildings, and even fewer of them still stand. His Ziegfeld Theater , built in 1926, was torn down in 1967 for the construction of Burlington House, and several of the Palm Beach buildings attributed to him — including three houses and the Oasis Club — are gone. But the Hearst Magazine Building, a fabulous seven-story building at West 57th Street and Eighth Avenue in New York, still stands with its statues and spires. And the New School for Social Research in New York remains a vanguard modern building, perpetually praised for its auditorium.

Aside from the Paramount, two of Urban’s great masterpieces remain in Palm Beach. The biggest and most famous of these is the palatial, mostly Moorish—Islamic Mar-a-Lago, which he designed for E.F. Hutton and which gained its much-ogled fame as the dwelling of Hutton’s widow, the late Marjorie Merriweather Post. When she died, Post willed Mar-a-Lago to the U.S. government, but it was deemed too expensive to operate so is now for sale. Urban also designed the oceanside Bath and Tennis Club, intended as a rival to Mizner’s Everglades Club.

For these two buildings Urban chose an elaborate, confected style, a Moorish-Spanish-Italian-Islamic architecture with a fairy-tale quality. The Paramount is a more subdued, transitional building, somewhere between Moroccan and art deco.

To lose it — or merely to lose the murals — would be a tragedy. This building is important to the townscape and to the town’s history. Will Rogers appeared on its skimpy stage, and so did Al Jolson, Babe Ruth and W.C. Fields.

But the Paramount is, more than anything, a remarkable building and an essential piece of Joseph Urban’s legacy. As a theater or a restaurant, it could regain a role in the daily life of Palm Beach.

Patsy on September 27, 2007 at 3:43 pm

Jack Coursey: After reviewing your many posted photos especially of the interior it is a shame that Palm Beach lost this theatre venue that could be used today to showcase singers and stage plays. I realize that the area as the Kravis Center and the Convention Center, but to have a theatre such as this one was still “on the island” would be very special.

JackCoursey on June 5, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Here are some current and archive photos of the Paramount
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,9,10

Patsy on January 8, 2007 at 4:46 am

Paul: Thanks for this interesting post as I recall going to this theatre in the 70’s when I lived in South FL. It’s nice to know that the Reverend Stevens is not only a Reverend, but a curator for the Paramont Theatre. I recall going there 3 years ago and seeing all of the many b/w photos of celebrities in the area that was once the lobby and also photos of how the theatre looked back then. Some of the columns are still being used in the interior and in some areas you can look up and see the original ceiling though personally I wish it was still a theatre as Palm Beach truly lost an historical landmark when they ended the Paramount theatre era. At least its former presence has now been brought to the TV viewer’s attention with WPTV doing a report on it. The Paramount in Palm Beach is truly “Gone but not forgotten”.

Paul Noble
Paul Noble on January 8, 2007 at 4:33 am

The Paramount presents a first-Thursday-of-the-month showing of a movie in the portion of the building which is now a church. Last Thursday, “Gold Diggers of 1933.”

Reporter Jamie Blaine of WPTV reported on it. Here are some excerpts from the news report.

“It was 1927 when the Paramount opened. Dubbed the millionaires movie theater, it was nothing short of a single screen cinematic palace.

“It was a cavernous one thousand, two-hundred thirty-six seat theater, with an orchestra, stage, and screen,” says Reverend Dwight Stevens.

Stevens is the head of the Paramount Church. He’s also curator of the Paramount Theatre.
And he’s poured his heart into resurrecting a piece of Hollywood, gone but not forgotten.

“People were more dignified then. There were morals, a sense of right and wrong. And the films depicted that.”

The Paramount brought in heavy hitters. The likes of Arthur Hammerstein, Flo Ziegfield and Irving Berlin all lured top acts for fund-raisers.

“Agnes Moorehead, Burgess Meredith, Danny Kaye, Sophie Tucker, Victor Borge, Lucille Ball, it just goes on and on.”

Bob Hope was a regular, and he brought with him top performers. In one photo of Hope in the theatre, there’s even a young, out of focus singer, who was not yet center stage.

“Julie Stein brought this young girl up from the audience and introduced her as the star of his upcoming Funny Girl. And that was Barbara Streisand, age 21.”

But it wasn’t just who was on stage at the Paramount, it was who was in the audience. Here you rubbed elbows with royalty.

“The Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The Kennedys were here. Babe Ruth was here. Charleton Heston. Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier, Gary Cooper.”

But the golden age ended in 1980. The Paramount closed, a single screen dinosaur in the age of the mammoth multi-plex. But on the first Thursday of every month, the Paramount once again flickers to life.

Reverend Stevens, in a tuxedo, welcomes those who remember the glory days of tinsel town."

Patsy on January 11, 2006 at 4:00 pm

View link

The above link will provide further information on the Paramount Theatre in Concord NC.

Patsy on January 11, 2006 at 12:57 pm

Since I have previously posted on this Paramount CT link I was wondering if anyone could research the Paramount Theatre that was on Union Street in Concord NC. A recent article that I found on the Carolina Theatre/Charlotte CT link mentioned the former theatre in Concord and that it was being restored. It would include businesses, a restaurant and some residential properties. The Paramount/Concord is listed on Cinema Tour, but no photo.

Porkface on November 1, 2005 at 2:24 am

Artifacts from this landmark occasionally pop up in the area. A great double-sided neon script sign (probably added in 1950’s) was in some guys warehouse near Southern/Military, but those buildings were recently flattened. Wonderful that the structure still exists and they light it up.

Patsy on February 24, 2005 at 7:30 pm

Thanks for all of the great sites that show photos of the former Palm Beach Paramount!