Paramount Theatre

3300 Washington Avenue,
Newport News, VA 23607

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Paramount Theatre

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The Paramount was constructed in 1930 on the corner of Washington Avenue and 29th Street in downtown Newport News. It was built on the site of the Academy of Music. A 3/10 Barton theatre organ (stop for stop identical to a Wurlitzer of the same size) was installed in 1931. House organists were Sid Lindsey and Gladys Lysle. I had the pleasure of meeting Gladys in the 60s when I was playing an electronic theatre organ at another venue. I also had the pleasure of playing the Barton organ on Saturday mornings while the maintenance people were getting the theatre ready for the first show (11 AM as I recall).The organ was maintained by Dick Charron..who was a good theatre organist. The organ was sold in the early 70s and went first to Maryland, then Kansas City, and finally to Las Vegas.

The Paramount featured two balconies accessible by a ramp as opposed to steps. I fondly remember the drink machines on the second level… where you put in your nickel, then watch the cup drop down and then two jets (carbon dioxide) and (the flavor desired) mixed together. Occasionally the cup would not center and you’d watch your drink go down the drain!

The Paramount closed in the late 1970s and was demolished around 1990.

Contributed by Terry Jordan

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

RobertR on July 12, 2005 at 11:25 am

Here is an old pic
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Sadly the location today
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Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 20, 2005 at 1:04 pm

Here is a photo of a pass for the Paramount Theater.

righter40 on September 21, 2005 at 6:41 pm

lost memory, where did you get that picture of the pass? I may have donated a pass like that to the Newport News Historical Society


Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 22, 2005 at 3:42 am

The photo of the theater pass came from a Newport News High School Class of 1965 website. This is the main page for that site. The photo is on that website somewhere and you will have to search for it.

ghamilton on September 22, 2005 at 12:08 pm

Mr.Memory,you never fail to amaze.How the heck would you ever stumble across a 1965 year book page?Sometimes you’re scary.Not retired from the NSA?I guess you’d have to kill me if you told me.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 22, 2005 at 2:28 pm

Well, back on my home planet of Kodak I am known as a seeker of lost photographs. Seriously, sometimes I amaze myself. If I search for photos of a Strand theater, I wind up finding photos of a State theater. When I search for a Heights theater, I find a High School Alumni site. Either I can’t spell very good or my search engine is out of this world. :)

HeatherCawley on October 28, 2007 at 5:25 pm

Hello everyone. Can anyone please help me find An Elvis Presley concert poster from his show at the Paramount Theatre? The date was 2/13/1956. I am willing to pay top dollar. Or if you guys could help me contact someone who might know where I could find one of these? An original? My contact info is:

Its a shame that the paramount is no more. My dad used to see elvis movies there all the time. Thanks for your time.


Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 18, 2009 at 7:01 pm

This was the Paramount in 1985.

wsasser on February 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

From the

Barton Op. 350 of 10 ranks and three manuals was originally installed in the Paramount Theatre in Newport News, Virginia. It has the distinction of being the last instrument shipped from the Barton factory in 1931. It was later installed in a theatre in Alexandria, Virginia for a few years, moved to the Midwest where eventually the organ was purchased by the Granada Historical Society and installed in the Granada Theatre in Kansas City in 1986 and had 11 ranks added to it. The Granada Theatre closed, and in 1997 it was purchased by Phil Maloof and installed in his Music Room here in Las Vegas. About the same time the six-manual console from the Barton 55-rank organ in the Chicago Stadium (which was torn down to make way for the new United Center, the pipes of the instrument were never relocated to a new home, and while in storage, 75% of the organ was destroyed in a fire) was also purchased by Phil Maloof and was completely restored and connected to operate the Barton Op. 350. The original console has also been retained. Another 10 ranks were added making a total of 32 ranks. In addition the organ has some “classical” ranks added bringing the total to 43 ranks. Bob Maes was the principal technician responsible for the current installation.

wsasser on August 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

According to local City Directories and historical books:

The Academy of Music operated from 1900 to 1927. It was demolished and rebuilt as the Paramount in 1931 and operated until 1978 when it closed due to a lack of business. A story about the opening of the Paramount in the Oct. 3, 1931 Daily Press states the seating as 1350.

The Paramount opened briefly for a short period but again business caused it to close it doors again. It operated from 1980 to 1981.

It was demolished in 1988. Elvis performed here in the 50’s. In the late 70s, it was a XXX theater.

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