Paramount Theatre

3723 N. Main Street,
Farmville, NC 27828

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Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on January 19, 2012 at 2:00 am

According to a plaque located on the Paramount Theatre the site was previously occupied by a Rialto Theatre from 1925 until 1935. I am not sure if the Paramount is a remodel of the Rialto or if the Rialto was demolished and the Paramount was built on the site. The Paramount was closed by Stewart & Everett in 1978.

jaytaylor
jaytaylor on May 9, 2012 at 2:48 am

Good comments, guys, but here’s the real story for the years 62-78. I don’t know that much about the Paramount before 1962, being born in 1958. I think Chuck was right about the Paramount closing in 1961, but only briefly. It was reopened in 1962 by J.I. Morgan, Jr. and was a Stewart and Everett theatre. My Dad, Joney Taylor, was Manager in Charge and had full rein over this theatre from Dec. 1962 until Sept. 1978. I remember the first film to show at the newly reopened theatre was “What Ever Happen to Baby Jane”. The theatre was segregated just like the schools back between 1962 and 1970. The Whites sat downstairs and the Blacks sat in the balcony and had their own private entrance which led directly upstairs. Their refreshments were served through the ticket window. The lower auditorium sat 238 and the balcony would hold about a hundred, depending on how many seats might be in working order. It was remodeled in 1963 with brand new fixtures, drapes, lobby, screen; curtains over the screen, seats and all the older downstairs seats went to the balcony to replace old wooden seats. The screen was kind of small because of the air conditioning that was located on each side of the screen. As a kid, I pretty much hung out at the Paramount every weekend. My first job was to load a heating rack full of boxed Popcorn. I remember in 1966 running the Don Knotts flick ‘Ghost and Mr. Chicken’, it was so packed my Dad had me round up about 50 kids to sit in balcony. They loved it up there. By 1968, We would run Two movies a week. One on Thurs-Fri-Sat was usually the G rated family fair and one on Sun-Mon the more adult R rated type. I helped in concessions and cleaning. In 1969, I became a projectionist and ran my first movie, Disney’s ‘Love Bug’. Being only 11, I had to set the film cases sideways and stand on them to see out the projection booth window. By 1970, Stewart and Everett decided to stop doing business with such a small town theatre. Mr. Morgan wanted to keep the theatre open, so he leased the business to Mr. Taylor for a buck a year, and Joney became the owner of the business. We used Carolina Booking Company out of Charlotte to book our films. In 1971, segregation was over and movies like Shaft and Superfly were beginning to become boxoffice gold for us. Thurs – Fri movies typically catered to the White Crowd and the Sun-Mon shows were booked for our Black Crowd. Disney’s and Burt Reynolds and Billy Jack and Walking Tall were the order for Thurs – Fri and Black Caesar, Fists of Fury w/Bruce Lee, Dolemite, etc were the fare of Sun-Mon. Everyone sat downstairs now unless we had a large crowd run-over. I remember playing ‘ABBY’, the black exorcist themed movie for a late show and we had about 400 people in there, sharing seats and sitting in the aisles. These movies put me through college. Here are a few pictures of those days @ http://home.earthlink.net/~domino7733/paramount.htm. All good things must come to an end. In 1977, the town of Farmville decided to upgrade their downtown and tore up the streets and sidewalks, pretty much killing all business. The theatre had fallen in to disrepair by then. Joney’s health had deteriorated and I was getting bored with it all coming home every weekend from college to keep the place open. We finally pulled the plug 9/2/1978 showing ‘Star Wars’ on it’s re-release in 1978. I remember watching the film run through for the last time with sadness and relief. I literally grew up there between 62-78 and we had some great employees and some great friends who worked there with me. A lot of after hours fun but that’s another story. After we closed, the Paramount was donated to the Farmville Arts Community Center. I was in it a few years ago and they did a fantastic job remodeling and cleaning it up.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve left out a ton and could probably write a book about the place.

Jay Taylor, Banning Ca.

NightHawk1
NightHawk1 on May 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Thanks for the info on the Farmville Paramount-told as only someone who worked there could. It blows my mind that “blaxploitation” flicks showed there; but then again, Pitt County’s pornhouse (the Highway 264 Playhouse) was halfway between Greenville and Farmville. Only in the 1970s. The Paramount was Pitt County’s last independent non-porn hardtop theater – only the Tice and Meadowbrook drive-ins in Greenville outlasted the Paramount as independents (the Meadowbrook barely so – it closed in August 1979 shortly before Greenville’s Pitt Theatre burned down).

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