2429 Kiesel Avenue,
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The Paramount Theatre opened as the Alhambra Theatre on March 17, 1915, with a concert by the Ogden Tabernacle Choir. Newspaper accounts on its opening said that the style of architecture, designed by Shreeve and Madison, was Sullivanesque. Its ads proclaimed “The germ free theater. Fresh air for everyone”. Its first silent movie was Charlie Chaplin in “The Champion”.
Building plans were first detailed in a March 26, 1914, article in the Ogden Examiner which said that it was to be built on property purchased by Fred J. Kiesel, an early Ogden developer. The steel framed structure was planned to be 180' in depth and 65' wide with four stores in front. A month later it was announced that The Alhambra Theatre Company had purchased the property from Kiesel and the theater was to cost $150,000 and seat 1,826, of which 500 were to be in the balcony. The company also operated the local Isis, Oracle and Globe theaters. Other venues in town at the time were the Ogden and Orpheum theaters. The company said the showhouse was to be similar to their American Theatre in Salt Lake City.
A May 15, 1915, article in the Examiner said that a suit was being brought by the Ogden Theatre against Paramount Pictures for selling films to the Alhambra Theatre that the Ogden had already contracted to play. Paramount’s defense was that the contracts had expired in April and that they were free to sell the pictures to other parties.
Boxing matches were a staple at the early Alhambra Theatre. One notable match took place on May 3, 1916 between two Utahans. A crowd of 2,000 saw an up-and-comer named Jack Dempsey defeat Terry Kelly in ten rounds.
In September of 1925, the theater came under the control of Louis Marcus Enterprises and underwent a complete renovation, and was renamed the Paramount. One of its premiere attractions was Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments”. Brooklyn-born Louis Marcus also owned major theaters in Salt Lake City and other theaters in Idaho. In 1929 Marcus said he was selling his interest to Publix Theaters and retiring from the business. He was elected mayor of Salt Lake from 1932-1936 and died in 1939.
In 1934 it came under the ownership Paramor Theatres who also operated the Orpheum, Lyceum and Colonial theaters. The local Ogden Theatre was an independent.
A major redecoration happened in 1948 with the installation of 1,600 streamlined seats, drapery and a new screen. The stage facilities were also remodeled in order to bring in big band attractions.
In July of 1954, Paramor Theatres completed renovations which gave it all new seating and a 42' by 21' screen. In time for Christmas 1954, a new marquee and Paramount vertical sign in addition to a new Formica snack bar was added. Interior and exterior photos of the new theater were in the local paper on December 24 and on the marquee was Paramount Pictures first Vista-Vision movie, “White Christmas” staring Bing Crosby.
By 1963, first run films became rarer to find at the Paramount and B pictures or reissues became more common. After April 14, 1963, their regular ad vanished from the papers. The Paramount showed up from time to time in the news as the host of community events or a weekly retrospect of MGM musicals but it appears they were basically closed. Later coverage of the Paramount Theatre is sparse but a March 8, 1971 article in the Standard-Examiner referred to the recently razed Alhambra/Paramount but gave no specific details other than some of its fixtures were donated to a local community theater which was being opened at another location and was using the Alhambra name.
In June of 2007, movies finally returned to Kiesel Avenue in the form of Larry H. Miller’s MegaPlex 13 at the Junction, which is about a block away from the parking lot where the old Paramount stood.
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