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The Newark Paramount Theatre

September 28, 2011

View of the Paramount Theatre from the balcony.

The Paramount Theatre opened on October 11, 1886 as H.C. Miner’s Newark Theatre. It was originally a vaudeville house managed by Hyde & Behman Amusement Co., a Brooklyn based theater Management Company. After H.C. Miner’s death in 1900, his surviving relatives retained ownership of the theater for several years until its sale in 1916 to Edward Spiegel, the owner of the nearby Strand Theatre. Spiegel also purchased the building next to the theater with the intent to use the space to expand the theater. To accomplish this he hired famed theater architect Thomas W. Lamb to do the alterations.

All of the seats on the lower level have been removed.

The old wood frame balconies were removed and replaced with a single steel and concrete balcony. The auditorium was decorated in the Adamesque style and the lobby was doubled in size. The original seating capacity was 1,900; after the remodeling was completed an additional 103 seats were added. In 1932, when vaudeville’s popularity began to diminish, the owners struck a deal with Paramount-Publix (now known as Paramount Pictures) to start showing movies. The theater underwent another remodel, less significant than the first, which covered most of the Thomas Lamb décor with a flat paint. After this last remodel, the theater was renamed the Paramount Theatre.

The remains of the box seats on the left side of the auditorium.

The Paramount Theatre closed on March 31, 1986 due to an increase in insurance rates. This increase also led to the closing of the nearby Adams Theatre. In the years since the 1986 closing the lobby area has been reused as an Army/Navy surplus store and other similar pop-up retail stores. The current plans for a multi-use entertainment complex on the lot call for the auditorium to be demolished.  Only the front facade will remain.

All of the chandeliers have been removed.

The projector room of the Paramount Theatre.

The backstage area is filled with replacement seats and old props from shows.

Another shot of the stage area from the balcony.

One of the plaster decorations added during the Thomas W. Lamb redesign of the theater.

A recent photograph of the marquee of the Paramount.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2011 2:34 pm

    Enjoyed the historical rundown. Powerful photographs. Even in its state of decay, the color looks marvelous.

  2. Migilicuty permalink
    October 7, 2011 8:31 am

    Such a shame theater’s like this were allowed to go to ruins. Aside from it’s historical value, these types of theaters held somewhat of a standard in quality and class. Instead, we get huge cineplexes where inconsiderate people bring children and babies to films like Jackass 3D or Saw, they talk and use cell phones and generally ruin the theater experience. The glamour of a theater like this, even in the shambles it is in, still holds the prospect of elegance that has diminished over the decades. The craftsmanship of the molding, to the beauty of the interior paint, to the allure of the exterior marquee are important in retaining the history of the structure but also serves as a blueprint to the once flourishing notion of a venue in which the future of entertainment developed. These single screen theaters hold a sense of grandeur that is rarely seen today, completely devoid of sticky floors, broken seats, and ripped carpeting. I live in a town that has a smaller single screen theater which has been for sale for some time now. I would hate to see it bought up by someone and totally demolished into an apartment building or yet another restaurant that will fail in a few years. I find these theaters to be more enjoyable for the film going experience, not only because of its history, but it represents a time where quality stood over quantity. These theaters need to be saved from decay and restored, if not to preserve the past and offer a glimpse of “back in the day”, but it also allow future generations to experience quality films the way they were intended to be viewed. Going to see a movie should be an experience not a cluster of chores from the ticket booth to the first row seats. Seeing a film used to be magical, if you will, and the theater was the venue in which that magic came to life. Today, people have become too cynical and expectant of the highest quality, while they are blind to see that buildings like these once stood for purity and elegance that allowed a developing art form to be soaked in by the audience. Breathing life into these lost and forgotten structures will help bring back the magic to the cinema.

  3. October 7, 2011 9:18 am

    I was linked here from IMDb, very interesting stuff, thanks.

  4. October 7, 2011 1:22 pm

    Gorgeous work, I’d love to buy you a beer sir!

  5. Trav permalink
    October 9, 2011 10:57 am

    When i went to school down there i always wondered how the interior looked. I mean i went to the army navy sometimes but i always just wanted to look at the actual theater thanks man.

  6. None permalink
    October 9, 2011 4:26 pm

    So odd they let all that rot away.

  7. October 9, 2011 7:30 pm

    It is possible to get these grand old ladies back to the way they once looked. We have the Civic Theatre in downtown Auckland (here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auckland_Civic_Theatre ) that had gone into a similar state before it was saved by a large cinema chain after they were lobbied by local citizens to return it to its heyday. They then built a large modern cinema next to the old theatre and incorporated it into their new cineplex.

    I suppose I’m saying that with enough noise by local citizens, these old buildings can be saved.

    Cheers for the excellent pictures.

    • October 9, 2011 7:49 pm

      Thanks. There are a number of theaters that have been restored in the United States as well. Hopefully some of the ones I’ve posted will join that list before they are too far gone.

  8. Kelly permalink
    May 27, 2012 8:40 am

    I was involved with an art show a couple of years back called Theatre Town and had the chance to visit the Paramount. I was wondering if you noticed the graffiti that the former employees left behind, it was kind of sweet. You could tell they loved to work there. The Paramount was pretty rat infested when I was a kid but they always showed the best horror movies. I believe the last film showed was Stephen Kings Silver Bullet.

  9. June 25, 2012 1:54 pm

    Thank you for this! Sad… but amazingly beautiful shots!

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