Abilene’s Paramount Theater Has a Rich History Behind It
If you grew up in Abilene and or went to school in Abilene there's a good chance that you've been to the historic Paramount Theatre at 352 Cypress in downtown Abilene. The first thing that catches everyone's eyes is when the lights go down the stars come out on the ceiling.
To say the Paramount is majestic is an understatement, because when Horace Wooten the man behind the Abilene Towers Motel (the first skyscraper in all of west Texas) commissioned a theater to be built next to his massive hotel in 1928.
Architect David Castle began the design and build of the historic theater in 1928 and the Paramount Theatre opened in May of 1930
The architectural design was by builder architect David Castle. David made sure he followed what Horace Wooten said by making the Paramount Theater a "rich, nostalgic and atmospheric movie theater." When the theater opened on May 19th, 1930 it was amazing.
Over the years the Paramount Theater has undergone a couple of restorations one of the most thorough restorations was in 1987. During that restoration special attention was paid to keeping what designer Pueblo Deco had designed back in 1928. The Paramount is as majestic today as it was back when it opened.
LOOK: At the rich history of Abilene's Paramount Theatre
Back in the day when the theater was first built, going to the movies was a big deal. I've been told the design of the auditorium was to try and recreate a Spanish courtyard at night complete with clouds overhead and a sparkling starlit sky. When you went to the paramount theater it was a mystical experience looking up.
Here's some history for you, the Paramount open on Sunday, May 18, 1930, and the first movie was "Safety in Numbers" starring Buddy Rogers, Carole Lombard, Kathryn Crawford, and Josephine Dunn. The movie was about a young man that was set to inherit millions but was being escorted around New York by three young ladies that were hired by the young man's uncle. You'll have to see the movie to find out how it ends The video below is about the history of the Paramount.
Nonetheless, during World War II and several other military conflicts the Paramount Theatre has been a place for our military soldiers stationed at Camp Barkley and those at Dyess Air Base to enjoy a movie or two and relax. Today, the Paramount is a popular destination for entertainment of all kinds.
When downtown Abilene began losing popularity the Paramount also struggled and eventually closed down for a long period of time in the mid-70s, until a group of Abilene citizens created what is known today as the Abilene Preservation League (APL). These amazing Abilenians restored and have helped revive downtown Abilene and the Historic Paramount Theatre.
In 1987 a generous private donor bought and restored the Paramount and the APL is responsible for saving the Paramount and several other historic buildings in Abilene. The Preservation League worked diligently to get the Paramount building put on the National Register of Historic Places, thus sparing it from the fate and demolition many other historic Texas buildings have succumbed to.
Today the Paramount hosts everything from private parties, children's ballet recitals, classic films, the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Christian, Country, and Rock concerts, stand-up comedians, Chorus Abilene, to the Abilene Community Band. If you have never been to the Paramount Theatre, then put it on your bucket shortlist.