Take a tour of the Historic Paramount Theatre, one of only four atmospheric theatres remaining in Minnesota. The Paramount was built in 1929 as a “first run” movie house, remaining open in this capacity until 1975. The Paramount then operated as a night club for several years. In 1992, a group of civic-minded volunteers with an appreciation for its historical and architectural value formed the Austin Area Commission for the Arts to buy it and bring it back to its original glory. After meticulous research and attention to detail, the restored Paramount re-opened as a fully functioning facility for films and live performances in 2005.
Like all atmospheric theatres, the Paramount was decorated to transport visitors to another place and time. Designed by Ellerbe and Company, it is the only commercial building in Mower County in the Spanish Colonial Revival style that was popular in the 1920’s and recalls the glamor and glitz of Hollywood. The outside of the theatre demonstrates ornamental features that include a central window encased in a ceramic-tile field within a pseudo-Baroque frame. The foyer showcases the original intricately detailed painting featuring dogs and winged creatures hand-restored by volunteers over the course of several years. The interior auditorium’s arched ceiling is painted blue with twinkling lights (stars) and moving clouds to give a sense of openness, and the walls are decorated to imply a small Spanish town with back-lit windows and balconies, red tiled roofs, and adobe walls. The stage itself is flanked by two vertical panels composed of square panels inset with coats of arms done in a tapestry mode.
The Paramount Theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Having recently installed a state-of-the-art sound system, new projector and top-quality movie screen, Austin Area Arts continues to present a full season of performing arts and weekly movies.
Originally built for 914 patrons, the theatre now seats 622.
Be our guest and enjoy a bag of delicious popcorn, popped in our original 1940s-era popcorn machine and a cold soda while we roll “Of Paramount Importance,” a 30-minute movie on the history of the building, followed by a self-guided tour of exploration through the Historic Paramount Theatre. For reservations contact Discover Austin, Minnesota at 507-437-4563.
The Paramount Theatre Marquee
The Paramount Theatre interior
The Paramount Theatre in 1943