549-59 Washington Street,
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Opened on February 26, 1932 with Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express”. The 1,797-seat Paramount Theater was the last of the great movie palaces erected on downtown Boston’s Washington Street, and the only one built exclusively for talking pictures. It was closed in 1976, and much of its interior detail was lost during asbestos removal in the 1980’s and decades of neglect and dereliction.
In 2002, Millennium Partners painstakingly restored the Paramount’s façade, marquee, and vertical sign. Millennium agreed to do this in exchange for city approval of their adjacent Ritz-Carlton Towers project (which included the new 19-screen Loews Boston Common (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures). The restored sign is occasionally lit up at night, and is a glorious sight to see. The derelict auditorium was demolished.
On April 13, 2005, Emerson College announced plans to redevelop the Paramount Theater into two live stages, one seating about 450 and the other 75 to 125. Emerson would also redevelop an adjoining building which once contained the Bijou Theatre (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures) and will construct a new building in a vacant lot that once contained B.F. Keith’s Theatre (which has its own page on Cinema Treasures). The entire development, to be called the Paramount Center, will provide Emerson with much-needed dormitory and rehearsal space.
Emerson College has won much praise for its restoration of the nearby Cutler Majestic Theatre, so its involvement in the Paramount Theater is great news for Washington Street.
The Paramount Theater reopened as a performing arts center on March 6, 2010 and is now known as part of the Paramount Center. A new, main 590-seat theatre was created with Art Deco style splendour, with seating for 326 in the orchestra level and 264 in the balcony.
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