96 East 4th Street,
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The Paramount Theater is another former movie palace built in 1927. It was located on East 4th Street close to Water Street and with 2,000 seats, was the largest movie theater to operate in Waterloo. The theater originally featured vaudeville and silent movies, and when sound came along, it was soon only showing movies.
When visitors entered the theater’s front doors, they passed through a set of columns, into a circular lobby with lighted alcoves that stood just below a domed ceiling. Straight ahead was the grand staircase to the 2nd-floor foyer, which led in turn to the balcony seating area.
Like many Atmospheric style theaters, the auditorium was designed to make you feel that you were outdoors. Artificial trees stood on both sides of the balcony. An effects machine projected stars on the theater’s ceiling, and once each night, the moon rose and set.
For several years, the theater presented a series of live stage presentations through an arrangement with the Broadway Theatre League of Waterloo and periodic concerts thru the Waterloo Teachers Association. On these occasions, movies were shut down for the day, the screen flew, the speakers rolled away, and a magical transformation took place.
In 1972, a fire destroyed the stage area. The asbestos fire curtain came down, saving the rest of the theater, but then it was ultimately demolished.
The area once occupied by the Paramount Theater is now a riverfront park.
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