[graphic heading] Seattle: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Servicer

Paramount Theater
The Paramount Theatre opened on March 1, 1928 at the end of an era. Thomas Edison first introduced "Motion Pictures" to Americans in 1896. By the 1910s, opportunistic playhouse managers grasped their money-making potential--Americans would pay for the chance to escape from their ordinary lives into the movies' glamorous worlds of drama, beauty, and wealth--and Theatres built specifically to show movies soon appeared throughout the country. During the "Roaring 20s," competition for audiences in cities grew fierce; in order to keep pace, each new Theatre grew larger and more ornate than the last. These "Movie Palaces" projected an aura of extravagance and fantasy that added to the illusions that appeared on screen.

The Paramount Theatre represents Movie Palace architecture at its height, just before the Great Depression made the construction and upkeep of such buildings impossible. Designed by brother architects, Cornelius W. and George L. Rapp, the Paramount boasted crystal chandeliers, marble stonework and luxurious velvet draperies. The Rapp Brothers' design skillfully allowed the patron to observe increasingly more of the elaborate building as the patron proceeded through the Theatre. In effect, the architecture was a significant part of the theatrical impact. Unlike many similarly elegant buildings, the Paramount has remained open throughout the years, playing host to movies, concerts, musicals and even rock concerts. In the 1990s, it underwent restoration, and the building once again evokes the wonders of a 1920s Movie Palace.

The Paramount Theatre is located at 911 Pine St. Free public tours are available the first Saturday of the month. For more information, call 206-467-5510 or visit the Seattle Theatre Group website

Paramount Theater LobbyParamount Theatre Lobby
Photograph by Michael Shoppin, courtesy of the architectural firm NBBJ of Seattle

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