Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center

2001 Farnam Street,
Omaha, NE 68102

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Rose Blumkin P.A.C. (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Dubinsky Brothers, Paramount Pictures Inc., Publix

Architects: John Adolph Emil Eberson

Functions: Performing Arts

Styles: Atmospheric, Italian Renaissance, Moorish

Previous Names: Riviera Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Astro Theatre

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News About This Theater

Riviera Theatre exterior

The Riviera Theatre was built in 1926 and opened on March 26, 1927 with Adolphe Menjou in “Evening Clothes”. It was built by A.H Blank, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures Inc. Two years after opening on May 9, 1929 it was re-named Paramount Theatre. It was distinctive for its unusual Atmospheric style Moorish and Italian Renaissance architecture, a combination seldom seen in the Midwest.

Designed by nationally known theatre architect John Eberson, its exterior focal point is a large copper domed tower, flanked by two smaller towers of similar detailing. The diamond-patterned brick facades contain oriel windows, elaborate cornices, glazed terra-cotta tile copings, and a series of free-standing columns which support griffins.

The courtyard Atmospheric interior, labelled Hispano-Italian by Eberson, had a sky-like domed ceiling painted dark blue with small, recessed incandescent twinkling lights simulating stars on a tropical night, with artificial fleecy clouds. The lower lobby had water fountains and aquariums filled with goldfish. The orchestra pit and Wurlitzer theatre organ could be raised or lowered with hydraulic jacks. Both stage productions and motion pictures were presented.

Frome 1952 the theatre was mostly dark, with only a few stage shows being presented and a brief period when it was used by Omaha’s Bowling League. Following a renovation and being taken over by the Dubinsky Brothers chain, it reopened in June 1962 with a reduced seating capacity of 1,465 as the Astro Theatre with James Stewart in “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. It had a 70ft wide screen and was equipped with 70mm projectors. The huge corner wrap-around marquee, which had become a problem to maintain, was covered by a vinyl material and a single large name and program sign erected above the corner. The Astro Theatre closed in the early-1980’s, and in the late-1990’s faced the wrecking ball.

Most fortunately, Mrs. Rose Blumkin, a wealthy Omaha business woman, purchased it from Creighton University and completely restored the theatre to its original opulence. The theatre reopened as the the Rose Blumkin Peforming Arts Center, after its saviour.

The theatre is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Contributed by Richard Pittenger

Recent comments (view all 36 comments)

MidnightBlue
MidnightBlue on August 23, 2006 at 10:11 pm

The mosaic floors in the former lounges and in the lobby have all been restored. I heard that a vertical marquee had been in the original plans for the renovation, but it was not done, I believe because of cost. If you look closely, you can still see the places along the corner of the building’s exterior where the vertical marquee was attached. The original vertical marquee starred in a 1927 newspaper ad advertising the power of the electric sign to draw customers to one’s business. At the time, lighted signs were rare, and businesspeople actually had to be persuaded to add one! The ad appeared in the Omaha World-Herald, and possibly also the Omaha Bee, which is now defunct.

Patsy
Patsy on August 23, 2006 at 11:29 pm

Thanks for the information and I’ll take a closer look at where the impressive vertical marquee once was attached.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on October 26, 2008 at 12:52 am

From the LA Times, 10/8/29:

THEATER ROBBED

OMAHA, Oct. 7 – Ten thousand dollars, the weekend receipts of the Paramount Theater, were taken from Glen McDaniel, assistant manager, at the point of a pistol early today. The robber compelled McDaniel to put the money in a sack and then fled in an automobile.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 6, 2009 at 4:56 am

The Astro Theatre opened in June, 1962, according to the June 25 issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The theater had been mostly dark since 1952, with the exception of a few stage shows and the brief period when it had housed Omaha’s professional bowling league. In March, 1962, the theater was leased from Creighton University by Dubinsky Bros. Theatres of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Dubinskys were responsible for the hasty remodeling. As the Astro the house seated 1465, reduced from the nearly 3000 it had previously held.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 19, 2010 at 2:00 am

Building looks real nice but the plastic marquee looks out of place.

drivein2001
drivein2001 on February 16, 2011 at 3:29 am

A photo I took of this Beautiful Theatre back in Nov of 2007.. View link ..
RAC Photography

rivest266
rivest266 on December 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I have uploaded the grand opening ads for the Riviera from March 26th, 1927 and as Paramount on May 9th, 1929.

rivest266
rivest266 on December 5, 2011 at 6:26 am

Also uploaded the June 15th, 1962 grand opening ad as Astro

vastor
vastor on September 16, 2017 at 2:35 am

2017 photos of exterior and organ console just uploaded.

Alan Bell
Alan Bell on November 14, 2020 at 8:39 pm

The theater’s organ was built by the Wurlitzer Company in 1927 as their Opus 1571. It is currently located in the Place de la Musique, a private museum in Barrington Hills, Illinois. It is reportedly one of the largest theater pipe organs in the world, currently having about 80 ranks and approximately 5000 pipes. It has been restored and expanded under David Junchen, after the museum installed it in a purpose-built music room.

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