420 N. Florence Street,
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Paramount Theatre - Casa Grande (Official)
Previously operated by: Paramount-Publix
Architects: Hugh E. Gilbert
Styles: Spanish Colonial
The Paramount Theatre first opened its doors on October 23, 1929 in a gala Grand Opening that featured Gloria Swanson in her first talking picture,“The Trespasser”. It had a seating capacity for 650.
This event heralded the beginnings of an era when the Paramount Theatre was the prime entertainment venue in Casa Grande, a distinction it has retained" to this day. The Paramount Theatre was built for the Publix, Rickard and Nace organization at a cost of about $35,000. Harry Nace ran a chain of movie theatres, which included such theatres as the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, built in the same year.
An early news article noted that architect Hugh E. Gilbert of Phoenix was in charge of construction. Accounts indicate that the Paramount Theatre did not survive the great depression and was closed temporarily. Long Theatre Enterprises acquired the theatre in 1942.
Soon after the re-opening, the theatre interior was renovated. In the mid-1940’s, the concrete floor was removed and the orchestra pit taken out.
All of the seating was replaced at that time.
In 1970, the theatre was renovated once more. Additional layers of acoustic panels were added to the walls of the auditorium. The brick proscenium arch was removed to make room for the new, larger screen. Renovations to the lobby and balcony areas were even more extreme. The storefronts were removed and used for new bathrooms. The entire lobby was
remodeled, leaving virtually nothing of the original character. The basement areas below the lobby were abandoned.
It was in a 1970 remodel that the facade was altered. Windows on the second floor were covered with a new sign. The storefronts were filled in with movie poster cases. And the box office relocated behind modern glazing to one side of the new, glass entry doors.
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