Paramount Theatre

314 N. Washington Avenue,
Marshall, TX 75670

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Paramount Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Delayed and over budget, the Paramount Thetare in Marshall, Texas opened on March 31, 1930. The opening was the first event in what the city of Marshall dubbed ‘Program of Progress’ month. The East Texas Theatre Company, Inc. commissioned Emil Weil, Inc. an architectural firm based in New Orleans, to design the 1,500-seat Atmospheric style theatre.

On opening day, the front windows were decorated with telegrams from prominent movie stars congratulating the theatre on its opening. The first feature was “Young Eagles” starring Buddy Rogers and Jean Arthur, and “Brats”, a Laurel & Hardy comedy short. Live acts, including Rajah Vogi, and East Indian hypnotist, played at the theatre during its early years.

By 1941, the Paramount Theatre was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary Julius Gordon. The Paramount Theatre would play a small roll in the American Civil Rights Movement by helping to inspire James L. Farmer, Jr., a civil rights activist, to form the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942. Farmer, who was born and raised in Marshall, said that the humiliation of using the segregated entrance and sitting in the balcony were some of the things that inspired him. In 1950, W.L. Gelling, the manager of the Paramount Theatre, booked the movie “Pinky” to show in February. “Pinky”, a film about an interracial romance, was banned by the city of Marshall due to its subject matter. Gelling was fined and convicted for showing the film. He appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who overturned it.

The Paramount Theatre closed as a movie theatre in the 1970’s, and was turned into a western themed dinner theatre. The seats on the main level were replaced by a dance floor. After the themed dinner theatre closed, the building was purchased in 1986 by Sky Spencer, who intended to turn it into a recording studio. Spencer gradually began to make alterations to the theatre, but was unable to complete them, and the recording studio never opened. After owning the theatre for over two decades, Spencer unsuccessfully tried to sell the Paramount Theatre via eBay in 2007.

Contributed by Lost Memory, Matt Lambros

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches
Exquisitely Bored in Nacogdoches on September 29, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Whoa – the bidding war must be on at the theater’s eBay listing. I’m getting tons of visits today (my link is the one listed above).

James Colburn
James Colburn on September 30, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Exquistely bored…you have some great pictures on flickr. I enjoy all your theater stuff. Keep up the great work.

DonLewis
DonLewis on June 3, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Views of the Paramount from 2009 here and here in Marshall, Texas.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 8, 2009 at 10:43 pm

The Paramount apparently opened in 1930. An item in the May 12, 1958, issue of Boxoffice magazine contains the following line: “Dahmer joined Jefferson Amusement Co.-East Texas Theatres in 1930 as an usher at the opening of the Paramount Theatre in Marshall, Tex….”

A 1949 item in Boxoffice’s “From the Boxoffice Files (Twenty Years Ago)” feature said that West Texas Theatres had purchased a lot at Washington and Burleson in Marshall and would build a theater on the site.

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on February 12, 2014 at 7:44 am

I recently had the chance to photograph the Paramount. Here’s a link to my photos along with some history of the theater – Paramount Theatre

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