Paramount Theatre (Aurora, Illinois)
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|Address||23 E. Galena Blvd.|
|Owner||Aurora Civic Center Authority|
|Architect||Rapp and Rapp|
|NRHP reference #||80001371|
|Added to NRHP||September 10, 1986|
The Paramount Theatre, also known as the Paramount Arts Center, opened in Aurora, Illinois in 1931. It was designed by Rapp and Rapp in the Art Deco style with Venetian elements. Over the years, it has hosted films, plays, musicals, concerts, comedy shows, and other acts. The structure was restored in the 1970s and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. It is part of the Stolp Island Historic District.
In the 1920s, Paramount Pictures began to construct theaters that could accompany their latest films. Talkies had just begun to appear in theaters, and Paramount executives predicted exponential growth in the industry. Older theaters had acoustics and audience accommodations ideal for live theater, but advances in film technology required new trends in these areas. However, since all new theaters showed the same performances, theater design could streamline by having similar visual design. Vaudeville was now only shown on weekends and was no longer a medium for nationally recognized talent.
The Paramount Theatre in Aurora was commissioned in 1931 by J. J. Rubens for one million dollars. It was designed by esteemed theater architects C. W. and George Leslie Rapp. It was the first air conditioned building built outside of Chicago. Paramount intended to bring such large theaters to all large cities across the country, but the Great Depression effectively ended these plans. The theater opened in September 1931 with appearances from Paramount film stars including The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, and Burns and Allen. It is capable of holding 1,885 people; originally it held 2,125, but capacity had to be reduced to conform to fire codes.
In 1976, the theater closed for renovation following its sale to the Aurora Civic Center Authority. It re-opened on April 19, 1978. On September 10, 1986, it was recognized as a Historic Place by the United States National Park Service, and was simultaneously recognized as contributing property of the Stolp Island Historic District. A lobby was added in 2006, and it remains an important part of the downtown Aurora economy.
- About the Paramount: History, Official website
- Lyndee Jobe Henderson, Bill Franz, Bob Puhala, Illinois Off The Beaten Path, Globe Pequot, 2007, page 41
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