817 S. Polk Street,
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Previously operated by: ABC Theatres, Paramount-Publix
Architects: W. Scott Dunne
Functions: Office Space, Parking Garage
Styles: Pueblo Deco
News About This Theater
The Paramount Theatre was opened April 20, 1932 with Charles Ruggles in “This is the Night”. It was just as the Depression was leaving its mark on Amarillo, which had feasted on the fruits of the 1920’s oil boom until the global crash caught up with it.
The Paramount Theatre was Amarillo’s premier first-run theatre for decades, but fell behind the multiple screen suburban complexes in the 1970’s, and closed March 20, 1975 with “Report to the Commissioner”.
It was gutted and converted to office space, but the Pueblo Deco style exterior is still as beautiful as ever. A hint of its grandeur can be seen in the second level of the parking garage that fills the old auditorium. The painted starburst ceiling is still intact, as is golden plasterwork that framed the top of the stage. The original chandelier and the giant blade sign from the facade have been preserved in a now-closed disco in the city’s warehouse district.
The sign was restored and place it back in its original location.
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Recent comments (view all 27 comments)
Here is another 1971 photo:
Great photos of the rehanging of the vertical sign.
I look back at my days and how i would sometime complain to my City Manager about having to Drive about 15 miles to the Imperial to sometimes open it up,after passing two our other ABC THEATRES . Really I was quite lucky to have the keys and work a Downtown Theatre. Joe V. I know you wrote in 2008 about the PARAMOUNT and a reunion, I hope you had one we have been lucky here in Augusta to be able to have several get togethers since 1985, When I thought about putting our first together.
I am finally, after years of wondering, seeking an answer- who last owned the Paramount Theater? In other words, who sold it, allowing it to be torn up and converted into office space? I REALLY want to know.
I lived in Amarillo then (Tascosa, ‘68). I don’t remember ANY outcry at the loss of this grand old theater. I’ve traveled a lot and have been in theaters that are considered classics by the cities that still have them. Never have I seen a more beautiful theater.
From 2010 photo views of the Paramount Here and Here in Amarillo.
Only some of the lobby was turned into offices. When you come in the front doors the appearance of a movie house lobby still exists, but the inner doors don’t go anywhere. The theater house and stage was converted into a two level parking garage. The proscenium arch and ceiling are largely intact. On the upper level of the parking area ‘onstage’ you can look up and see the steel gridiron that once supported the stage rigging, and the fire curtain smoke pocket is still there. They torch-cut the ladder rungs so you can’t climb up to the old fly loft. It would be possible to ‘un-convert’ the parking garage back to a theater, but unlikely given the new Globe News Performing Arts Center nearby.
The first movie of my life was at The Paramount, January 20, 1966, “THUNDERBALL”. I stayed through 2 showings. The last was “HEADS I KILL YOU, TAILS YOU DIE” an incredibly bad spaghetti western I saw just before they closed it down. It was one of the most beautiful theaters ever built. I got in 206 shows from ‘66 to '75. The good news: the building still there, it will never be a parking lot, and I’m just a LOTTO win away from putting it back the way it was.
April 20th, 1932 grand opening ad in photo section
Full size image of the 1939 photo added, courtesy of the Traces Of Texas Facebook page.