Emerson College to Redevelop the Paramount Theater

posted by Ron Newman on April 14, 2005 at 7:12 am

BOSTON, MA — Yesterday’s Boston Globe reports that Emerson College will redevelop the long-vacant Paramount Theater and two adjacent properties into a performing arts center.

The development will include “two theaters, rehearsal rooms, student residences, and restaurant space,” according to the Globe. “Plans are sketchy but will probably include a theater seating about 450 and a smaller, 75- to 125-seat black-box theater. [boston Redevelopment Authority] spokesman Susan Elsbree said yesterday that the final size will depend on the needs of the nonprofit arts groups that the city wants to include.”

The development plan also appears to include the former sites of Boston’s long-demolished Bijou and B.F. Keith’s theatres.

This is great news for Boston’s theatre district. Emerson College has done a beautiful job restoring the Cutler Majestic Theatre several blocks away. The college is in the process of relocating its entire campus to this downtown neighborhood.

Read the whole Globe article here:
Emerson to take on Paramount Theater project

Comments (10)

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 14, 2005 at 7:16 am

Here’s Emerson’s official press release about the Paramount.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 14, 2005 at 7:24 am

Some links in the above item are not correct. They should be:

Paramount Theater
B.F. Keith’s

For a local discussion and some photos of the Paramount and its surroundings, take a look here:

ArchBoston.com forum: Emerson College to redevelop Paramount Theatre

(you’ll need to continue to page 2 of this discussion forum to see the photos)

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on April 14, 2005 at 9:16 am

The links are now fixed. Thanks for letting us know, Ron!

br91975 on April 14, 2005 at 9:19 am

Does anyone know of the availability online of any relatively current (‘relatively current’ being within the last 10 years or so) photos of the interior of the Paramount? I’ve read a few random descriptions, but nothing concise enough to provide a true image.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 14, 2005 at 3:22 pm

The Paramount was the only downtown Boston theatre built solely for sound movies, and therefore the only one that has never had a live performance. So it’s a bit ironic that it will be redeveloped into a performing arts center.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 14, 2005 at 3:33 pm

I should amend the above to say something like “the only pre-1960s downtown Boston theatre built solely for sound movies.”

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 15, 2005 at 10:38 pm

Yesterday’s edition of the Emerson College student newspaper, The Berkeley Beacon, goes into more detail on Emerson’s plans. Unfortunately, the article is not on the Beacon’s web site. I’ve written to them and asked them to put the article online so I can link to it.

The Beacon article says that both the 450-seat and 125-seat theatres will go into the Paramount Theater building. The Bijou building (which the article calls the “Arcade building”) will become a 250-bed dormitory, and will include a restaurant, open to the public, at street level.

A new “performance development building”, to be constructed on the “vacant lot behind the Paramount”, will contain rehearsal spaces, individual and small-group practice rooms, and offices for performing arts department faculty and staff.

The interiors of the Paramount and Arcade buildings will be renovated, but Emerson will preserve both façades.

Elkus/Manfredi Architects of Boston and theatre consultants Auerbach, Pollack, Friedlander of New York are designing the Paramount Center. This is the same team that oversaw restoration of Emerson’s Cutler Majestic Theatre and construction of the school’s new Tufte Performance and Production Center.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on April 17, 2005 at 8:55 pm

A friend and I found a small hole in the back of the Paramount, just big enough to poke one’s head — or a small camera — through. He took these amazing interior photos yesterday.

The theatre is a total ruin inside. I expect this will be a gut rehab project and not any kind of restoration.

My friend also took these photos of the Paramount’s rear exterior.

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