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 10 comments)

righter40
righter40 on February 22, 2005 at 12:08 am

This theatre has been demolished for about 15 years. The Palace Theatre about 6 blocks down is the gospel church. The Paramount had been donated in the 80’s to the city to be a performing arts center, but it didn’t make the city’s downtown restoration plans and was razed. It was built on the site of the old Academy of Music.

Dan P – Frederick, MD born in Newport News Va

balto18
balto18 on June 2, 2005 at 11:54 pm

Sadly, about 1/1000th of the Paramount still remains…there’s a sad little course of terra cotta still stuck to the building next door (which, years ago, was “Paramount Florist”) to the north. A sad end for one of Virginia’s great theatres.

The Barton organ still exists, though. When the Paramount closed it was moved to the Virginia Theatre in Alexandria, and when that closed in the early ‘80s it was moved to the Granada in Kansas City, Kansas. It was the last theatre organ that the Barton company built.

ghamilton
ghamilton on June 6, 2005 at 7:44 pm

Downtown Newport News is a monument to the utter idiocy of “urban renewal"What a wasteland.There are 3 old theaters in NN being used as churches.One S.of the freeway,2 N.

righter40
righter40 on June 8, 2005 at 9:43 pm

Thanks lostmemory for the opportunity to look at those old pictures of the Paramount, but the interior shot is incorrect. The Paramount never had atrue balcony. It was a true stadium seat theatre much like all of the new megapalexes of today. It had a huge main level and two stadium levels.

When I was 17 and an usher at the Newmarket Rockingchair Theatre(another awesome theatre) I was told to clean out some old boxes that the fire marshall deemed a fire hazard. What I found in those boxes were old pictures from the collection of R.D. Stallings, Manager at the Paramount, then Newmarket Theatres. I found old pictures, articles, blueprints, and an old seating chart(1931) of the Paramount that Stallings had kept and never retrieved when he retired. I later managed several theatres along the east coast, including the Rockingchair, and posted these photos in my office. Now all of this collection has been donated to the City of Newport News Historical Society. I hope it is not just lying in a box.

About two years before the Paramount was razed, I had a chance to enter the building and retrieve the old ticket box. Like a dummy I am I left it at the Rockingchair after I was transferred out of state and I never saw it again(probably got thrown out)

I don’t know if that interior shot is the old Academy of music, but it’s not the Paramount. Too bad there were no shots of the interior of the Palace.

RobertR
RobertR on July 12, 2005 at 1:25 pm

Here is an old pic
View link
Sadly the location today
View link

righter40
righter40 on September 21, 2005 at 8:41 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

righter40

ghamilton
ghamilton on September 22, 2005 at 2:08 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.

HeatherCawley
HeatherCawley on October 28, 2007 at 7:25 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.

-Heather

wsasser
wsasser on February 22, 2013 at 11:48 am

From the NNHS65.com
From NNHS65.com

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
wsasser on August 14, 2013 at 5:04 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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