The Paramount is one of the 24 theaters in my new book “After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater.” Find out more here.
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.
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 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.