A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE
Oakland's Paramount Theatre is one of the finest remaining
examples of Art Deco design in the United
States. Designed by renowned San Francisco architect
Timothy L. Pflueger and completed in late 1931, it was one of
the first Depression-era
buildings to incorporate and integrate the work
of numerous creative artists into its architecture
and is particularly noteworthy for its successful
orchestration of the various artistic disciplines
into an original and harmonious whole.
Construction was initiated
by Publix Theatres, the exhibiting organization of Paramount Pictures.
Although financial difficulties forced the sale
of the uncompleted building to Fox-West Coast Theatres,
the firm that completed the theatre and operated it
until it closed on September 15, 1970, the name
"Paramount" was retained.
After its initial brief blaze of "movie palace" glory in the 1930's,
this remarkable auditorium suffered three decades of
neglect and decline until its rescue by
the Oakland Symphony, the City of Oakland and numerous private donors.
The building was purchased by the Board of Directors of the Oakland
Symphony Orchestra Association in 1972.
A painstaking and authentic restoration was completed in
1973 and the theatre was entered in the
of Historic Places on August 14th of that year.
In 1975 the City of Oakland, the present owner, assumed ownership from
the Oakland Symphony Orchestra Association. The Paramount Theatre became a
California Registered Historic Landmark in 1976, and on May 5, 1977,
was declared a National
Restored to its original splendor, meticulously maintained, and fully upgraded to modern technical standards,
the Paramount now serves all the arts.
The Paramount Theatre is the home of the
Oakland East Bay Symphony
and, as one of the San Francisco Bay Area's premiere performing arts facilities, hosts a year-round
schedule of popular music concerts, variety shows, theatre, and - of course - movies.
Elements of both the brief and detailed histories of the Paramount
Theatre which appear on this web site have been paraphrased or excerpted from
the book "The Oakland Paramount" by Susannah Harris Stone and from
official documents of the Library of Congress and the
Historic American Buildings Survey.
A 1991 update to the original HABS data was provided by Steven Levin (Theatre Historical
Society of America, Annual #18). Further updates and supplementary material have been added
by the webmaster of this site.
See also: U.C. Berkeley Bancroft Library historical article