The Paramount is one of the 22 theaters in my new book “After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater.” Find out more here.
The Liberty Theatre opened on February 11, 1918 in Youngstown, Ohio. It was designed by architect C. Howard Crane, later known for designing the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. The 1,800 seat Liberty opened as a vaudeville theater, and was managed by C.W. Diebel. Diebel’s father had built a theater on the same lot as the Liberty, but it was demolished to make way for what would become the Paramount Theatre. According to an account in the Motion Picture News, the theater cost $500,000 to build (or $8.8 million when adjusted for inflation.)
The exterior of the building was constructed with white glazed terra cotta, and the interior was decorated in the Adamesque style. Due to the Liberty’s wartime construction, it was very difficult to get the steel required for the framework. In 1929 the Liberty was purchased by Paramount Pictures and renamed the Paramount Theatre. Paramount Pictures spent $200,000 modernizing the building and installing a sound system so the theater could show sound films (or ”talkies”). The Paramount thrived for more than 50 years before closing in 1976. The theater reopened for two days in late 1984 to host “Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. Steel Mill Movie Day.” People were given a short brief on the current state of the steel industry, a tour of the theater, and shown a film about the mill.
In April 2006 Grande Venues, Inc. purchased the Paramount. They planned to reuse it by adding a dance hall on the main floor and a one- or two-screen movie theater in the balcony. However, the restoration plans were never applied and the building was purchased by the city of Youngstown in 2011.
The Paramount Project, a group working to reuse the building in some capacity, wanted to save the facade for a small restaurant, and construct an amphitheater where the auditorium was located. However, two separate studies found that if the walls of the theater were removed, the facade would likely collapse. It would cost between 1.3 and 1.6 million dollars to shore the facade enough to survive the demolition. Due to the cost, the Paramount Project walked away from the building and in July 2013 it was demolished. The city turned the space into a parking lot.
21 thoughts on “The Paramount Theatre – Youngstown, Ohio”
Did you happen to photograph any of the other historic closed theaters in Ohio?
No, I did not. I am planning a trip back very soon though.
So sad. And apparently a pipe organ in this theatre?! I see some of the pipes that remain……would love to know more about that great instrument. Excellent photos, thanks……sigh……
Gabrielle – All the information I could find was that it’s a Hillgreen- Lane organ and it was installed in 1917.
Thanks, Matt….was this just LEFT there, to rot along with the rest of this wonderful place, I wonder? SO many treasures here, just criminal……:(
Unfortunately, the organ console was left there. It’s against the wall next to the pipes. https://afterthefinalcurtain.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/liberty_theatre_16.jpg
Ohhhh, that just tears at me……….awful. This is all such a huge, sad waste……..
I watched a lot of Good Movies in there. I almost wish I hadn’t seen the Pics & just remember it the way it was. I worked at the Palace Theater in Youngstown around 1953. They just demolished it & put in a Parking Lot.
Beautiful photography, Matt.
Such a waste of a great old movie palace
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Demolition has begun. Thanks for these photos.
While I was not surprised to find a pic on the MSN feed of abandoned sites of my hometown of Youngstown, http://photos.msn.com/slideshow/weather/most-beautiful-abandoned-places-around-the-world/235178n6#21
I was stunned to find your beautiful series of the theatre. I expected to see one of the mills or blast furnaces that had our hearts die when they went cold. Thanks for showing us a bit of the beauty tucked into a grey steel town.
Amazing photos. Thank you for sharing your passion.
Those old theaters are so ugly inside and out. Yuck! The pipe organ’s “guts” alone are full of toxic materials. All of that lead in those pipes and all of that lead in the theater’s layers of peeling paint)) yikes! It would be great if some hot shot investor invested in Detroit and really cleaned it up and brought some new found vitality to the old motor city. Those old abandoned decaying buildings and factories are so gross!
Erri, are you for real??? There is a sad beauty in these places that speaks of their glorious pasts. There are no toxic materials in the “guts” of a pipe organ. And yes, the pipes are lead—so as long as you don’t go sucking on them, they are not a health threat. Geez.
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Why is the line from “Big Yellow Taxi”-“They pave paradise/put up a parking lot”-coming to mind?
Because it’s true.
How funny, that song is also running through my head.
Did you know that there was a cafeteria under the Liberty theatre in 1920?