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Constructed at the tail end of the Roaring Twenties, the Paramount Theatre was designed by John Eberson and is one of his twelve remaining atmospheric theatres in the United States. After several decades of struggle, the Paramount faced demolition in 1989 for a parking lot. As a result, The Paramount Heritage Foundation was formed to save the theatre. Restored to its previous glory, the Paramount is still in operation today.

  • Outside of the Paramount Theatre
  • The Inside of the Paramount Theatre

Constructed in 1928, the Paramount Theatre was designed and built by John Eberson. The goal of the interior was to create an atmosphere like a Spanish villa. It was complete with wrought-iron gates, statues lining the walls, a ceiling painted with stars that actually twinkle and moving clouds. It gave the illusion of being outside. The theater was originally designed as a seven-story building with a hotel and a ballroom included. However, due to downsizing the building opened on August 20, 1929, as a three-story building with a theater and ballroom. The theater was primarily built for vaudeville shows and movies, but most importantly to escape the real world. 

A few months after the Paramount opened, the Grande Page Pipe Organ was installed. It was a three-manual, seven rank instrument. The Organ was a beautiful sound that filled the theater during preludes, intermissions, and postludes. The Paramount even hosted sing-a-longs with the Organ. Unfortunately, soon after the Organ was installed the theater had to close because of the Great Depression. However, it was not closed for long.The theater opened back up just a year later.

The theater struggled in the 1950s and 1960s because of the advent of television; it was unable to recover. In 1985, the Paramount was seen as outdated and closed. By 1989, the theater was owned by eight different groups and facing demolition for a parking lot. Three weeks before the ordinance to tear down the theater, lawyer Leslie Davidson formed a group to restore it. They called themselves the Paramount Heritage Foundation. In July of 1989, the group entered the theater and turned on the few working lights. They discovered water leaks in the dressing rooms and orchestra pit. The Page organ also saw water damage and was unplayable. The air was foggy, almost like smoke from a fire, but actually, it was mold spores floating in the air. Without heating and cooling, the theater was on the verge of collapse. The city of Anderson, with the guidance of the Paramount Heritage Foundation, embarked on a journey to restore the theater to its original 1929 glory.

In January of 1995, the seats were removed in the theater and scaffolding was brought in. A Conrad Schmidt artist used an airbrush to paint the ceiling. He modeled the ceiling off of a sunset. The clouds were painted one and a half days later. The theater reopened on August 19, 1995, with a performance from Sammy Kaye and the Mcquire Sisters. The last seat was bolted into place fifteen minutes before the final rehearsal with the performance that evening. 

In 1997, the theater closed again briefly to update the Page organ. It was enlarged to a three manual, twelve rank organ with 966 pipes. Today there are only three Grade Page Organs remaining in their original theater installations in the United States. 

The restored theater is still in operation today and is one of twelve John Eberson atmospheric theaters left in the United States. After the installation of wider seats in the Paramount, the capacity reduced to 1,458 seats. The statues on the wall are original, however, touched up multiple times. The projector screen is 40’ by 20’ making it the second-largest screen in Indiana. The Paramount hosts several events a year, including the annual festival of trees and the annual Martin Luther King Jr. day celebration.

The Paramount Theatre Centre in Anderson, Travel Indiana. April 12th 2018. Accessed June 10th 2020.

About The Paramount, The Paramount Theatre Centre and Ballroom. Accessed June 10th 2020.

The Paramount Theatre, CICATOS: Central Indiana Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. Accessed June 10th 2020.

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