121-27 3rd Avenue SE,
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Paramount Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: ABC Theatres, Tri-State Theaters
Architects: Armin Frank, Urban F. Peacock
Firms: Peacock & Frank
Functions: Performing Arts
Previous Names: Capitol Theatre
News About This Theater
- Aug 12, 2008 — Costly flood damage to Paramount Theatre revealed
Built by A.H. Blank of Des Moines, this theatre opened as the Capitol Theatre on September 1, 1928, with 1,945 seats. It featured vaudeville, movies, and a mighty Wurlitzer organ. The half-block long lobby includes a Hall of Mirrors, which leads to a grand staircase. The lobby was patterned after the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles in France. A year after opening, the theatre was sold to Paramount Studios and renamed the Paramount Theatre.
Much later, a multi-decade restoration project was begun to save the theatre. During this process, numerous improvements were made. 1,600 yards of carpet were duplicated and replaced. The chandeliers, made of Austrian cut glass, were restored. The huge downstairs lounge, complete with fireplace, was restored in the late-1970’s by the Junior League of Cedar Rapids.
Until 1973, the lobby and lounge were filled with oil paintings from Europe, gilt mirrors, chests with marble or bronze busts, statues on pedestals, tables, sofas upholstered in blue and green velvet, and gilded lamps. In the auditorium, most of the seats were re-upholstered with red velvet. The original draperies only needed cleaning. The ceiling did not need cleaning because of it’s unique air-intake system. The Pagoda-style box office was also restored.
The Wurlitzer pipe organ (original cost $28,000) was restored too and gave its first concert in March 2014. It is presently maintained by the Cedar Rapids Area Theatre Organ Society. Cedar Rapids is one of only two other cities to have two working theatre organs in their original installations. The other is the ‘Rhinestone Barton’ in the former Iowa Theatre, Cedar Rapids.
The people of Cedar Rapids who took on this project believe in the concept of adaptive reuse, which is simply the process of remodeling older buildings for contemporary purposes. From the look of it, they’ve done a great job.
Unfortunately, the Paramount Theatre was closed dure to flooding in January 2008. After renovations, it was reopened on November 3, 2012.
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The CR-ATOS website has more updates on the organs. Consoles for both the Paramount and Theatre Cedar Rapids organs were damaged “beyond repair” and the soplor chamber of the Barton received heavy water damage. CR-ATOS and Cedar Rapids Barton inc. are working together on restoration and conservation the Barton at theatre Cedar Rapids, which will include a replica of the original console. The city of Cedar Rapids recently approved a restoration plan for the Paramount and in early 2010 planning efforts will begin for the restoration of the Paramount Wurlitzer and replication of the console.
The renovation of the Theatre Cedar Rapids and the Barton has already commenced, and is scheduled for completion by spring 2011.
Here is a photo of the partly submerged console of the Barton at the Theatre Cedar Rapids:
Here is a photo of the toppled console of the Paramount Wurlitzer:
A more detailed set of articles on the restoration progress of both theatres and organs with more photos and updates can be found at the main CR-atos page: http://www.cr-atos.org/
Detailed restoration plans for the theatre have been released; the restoration will include a complete restoration of the WurliTzer and replication of the original console. http://www.cr-atos.org
Oct.31 1940 has Baby Sandy in “SANDY GETS GER MAN”.
Are they going to put the original organ back and in working condition?
The pipes for the organ and the relay are still in the chambers. The console is a total loss as is the blower. A replacement blower has been located. There are possible leads on a replacement console of similar vintage that can be redecorated to match the original. Restoring the organ is very much part of the plan.
How is the organ restoration proceeding? Anyone know what other organ elements are needed? I have a lead if someone has a contact. Thx
The organ components were removed from the theatre over the February 11th weekend. They are on their way to Reno Nevada for a complete restoration that will take about 18 months. I am the job super on the restoration. You may enjoy watching some of my videos on YouTube that i have posted regarding the restoration. Search for username flyboyslc1 There are currently about half a dozen videos and i post one or two more a week. The theatre is scheduled to be open again late October of 2012.
The Paramount will reopen Nov. 3 2012. The organ console has returned to the theater, but it will still be another year before the rest of the components return and are installed. The stage house has been expanded and the orchestra pit enlarged. The seating has been reduced to around 1700.
For those interested in hearing the Cedar Rapids Paramount Wurlitzer organ, it will be presented in concert Thursday evening October 30, 2014. Tickets can be obtained from the Paramount Box Office or Ticket Master. There is a behind the scenes tour of the Wurlitzer organ chambers prior to the performance.
The restored organ had its first concert in March 2014.