Paramount Theatre

301 DeSiard Street,
Monroe, LA 71201

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This theater opened in 1921 with stadium style seats, including high balcony and box seats. It also contained a 4/20 rank Moller theater organ, which was later replaced by a 2/6 Robert-Morton organ.

Contributed by Howard Jackson

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

soglesbee
soglesbee on March 27, 2004 at 1:02 am

The theater originated as Sugar’s Opera House, built in 1915 by Barney, Sam and Isador Sugar on the corner of Jefferson and Walnut. In 1921, the brothers sold it to the Saenger Amusement Company who relocated the building to the corner of N.3rd and DeSaird in the downtown area.
In it’s early days of Vaudeville, the Saenger/Paramount was host to many famous actors such as Al Jolson, Jack Benny, W.C. Fields, George Burns and Gracie Allen, just to name a few. Entertainment at the theater ranged from the Zigfield Follies to local high school talent shows and amateur nights. The very first “Miss Monroe Beauty Pagent and Bathing Girl Revue” was held in 1925. The theater also facilitated the first dance floor in the southern United States. During the 1930’s, the theater’s Moller Pipe Organ entertained radio audiences on station KMLB.
On Wednesday, September 9, 1970, the theater closed it’s doors permanently that evening after the final showing of its last movie, ‘Easy Rider’. The theater fell into disrepair in its latter years and as a result of the opening of the Monroe Civic Center in 1965, it was decided that the Paramount would be demolished to make room for “economic growth” in the downtown area.

1915-1921 Sugar’s Opera House
1921-1927 Saenger Theate
1927-1932 Ballaban and Katz Publix Theater (a Paramount subsidiary)
1932-1935 Paramount Theater
1935-1950 Paramount-Richards Theater
1950-1961 ABC Paramount Theater
1961-1970 ABC Mid-South Theater

hjackson
hjackson on August 27, 2005 at 12:09 am

The above was an article published in a local newspaper after the closing of the Saenger/Paramount Theatre. There are some errors that need to be corrected.

The theatre was the second theatre built in Monroe by the Sugar brothers, the first was the Opera House on the corner of Jefferson and Walnut Sts. The building is still there and used as a pool shop and outdoor furniture. The second built on the corner of 301 DeSiard St. was built around 1915 as an upstairs movie & vaudeville house with stores on the first floor.

In 1920 this theatre was sold to the Saenger Company and they completely remodeled it into the Saenger Theatre seating around 1000.
There was a Moller 4/18 mostly a straight organ without a toy counter (drums, cymbals, bells, etc.) installed in two chambers (R&L) and a 4 rank echo organ under the balcony. In July, 1927, this organ was removed and replaced by a new 2/6 Robert Morton with all melodic percussions, toy counter and the bells and whistles used with the silent movies. When the theatre closed, I removed the organ and installed it in a local school and later met the man in charge of installing Robert Morton organs for the Saenger Theatre Company, Mr. Roy Gimple at that time of Oklahoma City, OK.

I’ve lived in Monroe all my life and can remember my parents taking me to the then Paramount. I really enjoyed going to the first movie of the day because the lights were on before the movie and there was a little man way down in the orchestra pit playing the organ. What a thrill to hear these wonderful sounds coming out of a mysterious place somewhere up high in the theatre. Years later during college days, a friend of mine and I would go down to the theatre and the clean up crew would let us in to play the organ. To this day, the theatre organ bug is still biting!

hjackson
hjackson on August 28, 2005 at 8:31 pm

It’s a real shame that this theatre had to go due to “economic growth” downtown. The only growth has been parking lots for businesses that have disappeared.

Blanchard
Blanchard on April 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

My grandfather ran this theater during the 50’s – last name Blanchard. My dad was the house organist when he was in college at NE. This was how he came to meet my mom – who was in the projection booth doing homework- she also went to NE. Both were focused on music. I’d love to learn more about this theater. It’s nice to know the organ made it out alive. I remember my dad telling me about the sound fx it made.

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