Delayed and over budget, the Paramount Theatre in Marshall, Texas opened on March 31, 1930. The opening was the first event in what the city of Marshall dubbed “Program of Progress” month. The East Texas Theatre Company, Inc. commissioned Emil Weil, Inc., an architecture firm based in New Orleans, to design the 1,500 seat atmospheric theater.
On opening day the front windows were decorated with telegrams from prominent movies stars congratulating the theater on the opening. The first feature was “Young Eagles,” starring Buddy Rogers and Jean Arthur, and “Brats,” a Laurel and Hardy comedy short. Live acts, including Rajah Vogi, an East Indian hypnotist, played at the theater during its early years.
The Paramount would play a small role in the American Civil Rights Movement by helping to inspire James L. Farmer, Jr., a civil rights activist, to form the Congress of Racial Equality in 1942. Farmer, who was born and raised in Marshall, said that the humiliation of using the segregated entrance and sitting in the balcony were some of the things that inspired him. In 1950, W. L. Gelling, the manager of the Paramount, booked the movie “Pinky” to show in February. “Pinky,” a film about an interracial romance, was banned by the city of Marshall due to its subject matter. Gelling was fined and convicted for showing the film. He appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who overturned it.
The Paramount closed as a movie theater in the 1970s, and was turned into a western themed dinner theater. The seats on the main level were replaced by a dance floor. After the themed theater closed, the building was purchased in 1986 by Sky Spencer, who intended to turn it into a recording studio. Spencer gradually began to make alterations to the theater, but was unable to complete them and the recording studio never opened. After owning the theater for over two decades, Spencer unsuccessfully tried to sell the Paramount via eBay in 2007. It is still for sale.
Selected prints from this post can be purchased at: http://www.mlambrosphotography.com/prints
© Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Lambros and After the Final Curtain with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Tickets are now available for my February 17 lecture at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The lecture starts at 6:20 PM. Tickets can be purchased at the following links:
The Exhibition opens on February 16. Check out the theater’s website for more information.
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be giving a lecture on abandoned theaters on February 17 at the Jean-Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A selection of my images will be exhibited at the theater’s gallery space until March 17.
Below is a brief history of the theater from it’s website:
“The Jean Cocteau Cinema opened as the Collective Fantasy Cinema in 1976. Brent Kliewer, programmer for the Collective Fantasy, bought the theater in 1983 and renamed it the Jean Cocteau in reverence to the French filmmaker and artist. Kliewer, who remains the programmer for The Screen in Santa Fe, sold it to Blue Pearl Corporation in 1986.
Trans-Lux Corporation purchased the venue in 1989 and ran the theatre, which has a single screen and 120 seats, until closing it in April of 2006. The state of New Mexico then leased offices above the theater and the theater itself as the home for the state film office, with plans to make the theatre auditorium into a film museum. Funding for that project never came to fruition and the film office left the theater and offices in 2010. Trans-Lux still owned the theater, which stood vacant until it was purchased by author George R R Martin in 2013, who reopened it on August 9, 2013.
The theater shows film on 35 mm and digitally as well, combining the best of the old with the best of the new, including Santa Fe’s only ‘Midnight Movie’ series, with a different title being offered each weekend at 11 PM.”
The Lyric Fine Arts Theatre opened on January 14, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama. It was built for Louis V. Clark by C.K Howell, the architect of many theaters on the B.F. Keith vaudeville circuit in the South. Clark leased the theater to Jake Wells who owned and managed a number of theaters, including the nearby Bijou Theatre. The Lyric’s opening was delayed due to a legal dispute with the Orpheum Theatre over where shows on the B.F. Keith’s vaudeville circuit would play.
The annual Holiday print sale is here! Beginning December 9 and ending on December 24, all prints will be 20% off. Place an order by December 19 to get it in time for Christmas!
Quite a few of the images haven’t been offered as prints before so check out the new print page and enter the coupon code holidaysale2013 to get 20% off your order.
If there’s an image you’d like a print of but do not see it on the page, send me an email and I’ll add it for you.
Post 3 in the Snapshot Series - Occasionally in my travels I come across a theater that I can’t find a lot of information on, or that I only have a chance to photograph for an hour or two. They’re still beautiful and fascinating, so they definitely have a place on After the Final Curtain
The Empress Theatre opened in 1927 in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The 1,595 seat theater was built by architect Charles A. Sandblom, who is also known for the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan. Originally part of the Century Circuit, the theater became part of the RKO circuit in 1929.
The Loew’s State Theatre opened on April 3, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was built by renowned theater architect Thomas W. Lamb for the Loew’s Theatre Corporation. The 3,335 seat theater cost $1.5 million ($20 million adjusted to current value) to build. At the time of the opening, the “New Orleans Item” proclaimed the State, “the greatest playhouse south of Philadelphia and west of Chicago.”