Paramount Theatre

33 N. Clinton Avenue,
Rochester, NY 14604

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Paramount Theatre

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Opened in 1916 as the Piccadilly Theatre. Probably the first large scale movie palace in this city. Opening day advertisements boasted of the theatre’s velvet carpeted rotunda, elegant fixtures comfortable seats, and the forest of potted palms around the orchestra pit. The Piccadilly’s orchestra shared the pit with one of Rochester’s earliest true “theatre” organs (as opposed to a church transplant). Pieces of the organ survive downstate, incorporated into an organ in Elmira, New York. It was operated by Loew’s Inc. in the 1920’s

In 1932 the Piccadilly Theatre became the Century Theatre, the name by which most older Rochesterians remember it. It was then part of the Comerford Theatres Inc. chain.

In the late-1940’s it went through a final name change and became the Paramount Theatre and was remodelled to the plans of architect Michael J. DeAngelis. In the 1960’s, the Paramount’s main lobby was remodeled into a separate theatre, known as the Studio 2. Though it’s marquee carried the name “Studio 2”, the towering “Paramount” sign still dominated the Clinton Avenue facade. Patrons to the original auditorium now had to enter through the side entrance on Mortimer Street.

The 1970’s saw a period of decline and a steady stream of “blaxploitation” flicks. In a burst of short sightedness the theatre was finally closed and, after a few mild protests, demolished. The most ironic thing about the Paramount/Piccadilly’s demolition is that the city is now attempting to construct a performing arts center on the exact same site!

I never entered the Paramount Theatre (my family almost always went to the Palace Theatre, across the street), but friends who did patronize it said that remnants of its original elegance lingered right up to the very end.

Contributed by Carl Laitenberger

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

markp on May 6, 2008 at 4:03 am

Too true Patsy, too true.

Patsy on May 6, 2008 at 4:36 am

movie534: Interesting that a CT member would comment about my post almost 2 years later! Anyone have some updated news?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 12, 2009 at 9:00 am

The architect for the conversion of the Century Theatre into the Paramount in 1948 was Rochester’s own Michael J. DeAngelis. There’s a picture of the post-renovation lobby in Boxoffice, May 22, 1948.

Ziggy on May 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

My Gosh! You’ve really gotta hate that late 40’s streamlining! It would be great to find some photos showing the original decor. I know the auditorium survived somewhat intact right up to the end.

TLSLOEWS on August 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm

A.K.A. Loews Piccadilly,funny sounding name.

martymia2009 on June 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm

As I entered the Theatre I remember the Lobby being slightly like a hill. My first time there was to see Creature From The Black Lagoon in 3D Wow, hat an experience for a 12 yr old boy back then!!!

dhroc on August 16, 2011 at 12:27 am

The Piccadilly was a Loew’s vaudeville theatre. I don’t know when the Martina gang (did I say that?) took it over but the place was very run down and somewhat unkempt. I saw Omega Man and a couple of others there.

Martina ran a bunch of old downtown theatres and were always in court suing the other chains for unfair booking practices. Thing was, Matina always seemed to get pretty good movies. All the Martinas became pretty run down in the late sixties and early seventies finally closing up in quick succession.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 23, 2012 at 2:38 am

Here is a fresh link to the 1948 Boxoffice item with a photo of the Paramount’s remodeled lobby.

Patsy on February 1, 2013 at 2:22 am

“The most ironic thing about the Paramount/Piccadilly’s demolition is that the city is now attempting to construct a performing arts center on the exact same site!”

jasen on February 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm

In the late 40’s when the Century theatre was remodeled, it became 2 theatres. The Paramount theatre’s entrance was on Clinton Ave. North and Century theatre’s entrance on Mortimer St. I recall attending the grand opening of the Paramount theatre and seeing the first muscial film projected in Vista Vision. It’s clearity was impressive but not as wide screen as Cinemascope.

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