33 Clinton Avenue North,
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Rochester’s Paramount Theatre 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. The Paramount’s main lobby was remodeled into a separate theatre, known as the Studio 2, in the 1960’s. 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.
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