The Paramount Theater

As mentioned this morning, developers in Provo are planning a new six-story mixed-use building downtown. The structure will go in at 63 E. Center St.

Years ago, however, that same space was occupied by the Paramount Theater. Though I struggled to find images of the building, I did find someone named G. Hamilton Hill saying that in the 1960s it was still around. This website also claims that it operated from roughly 1930 to 1980. However, I have not confirmed either of those statements.

The picture below is the clearest image I located. It comes from the Provo Library’s online archives.

According to the archive, these are Farrer Junior High School students attending “The Jolson Story” in 1946. From the look of things, they also were holding Provo’s first Critical Mass.

The next picture (below) shows the same area roughly 16 years earlier. It was taken looking toward the northeast. The one-story building in the image is where Guru’s is located today.

This picture was taken around 1930. The magnificent building with the arch is the Princess Theater. Today that building is gone, but the building just to its right now houses Enliten Bakery. 63 E. Center Street is just a couple more buildings to the right.

And finally, the motley bunch in the picture below is standing in front of the same general area sometime between 1890 and 1900. This picture also was taken looking northeast.

This picture comes from the Utah State History Digital Archives and includes a caption: “A family and their horses on University Avenue right at the intersection with Center Street.”

It’s worth nothing that the trees behind this “family” — who look a lot more like a band of horse thieves to me — would eventually be replaced by a police station and city building that would itself be demolished later to make way for a grassy area. Most recently, that spot was used last weekend for the Festival Latinoamericano.

In any case, unfortunately none of these pictures shows 63 E. Center St. very clearly. I actually spent several hours combing through different photo archives, but with no more luck.

And though the Paramount Theater is long gone and replaced by a parking lot, the documents I cited in this morning’s post indicate that remnants of the building actually survive. Specifically, the documents mention the removal of the building’s foundation, which suggests that even though the building was demolished someone just paved over its base.

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7 Comments

Filed under Development, Downtown

7 responses to “The Paramount Theater

  1. Pingback: A Street Car Named Desire (for Better Public Transit) | (pro(vo)cation)

  2. Don Kincheloe

    I worked at the Paramount, Uinta and A academy theaters when I was a student at BYU 1980-1984. All three of these theater were still operating when I graduated and left the area. I can say that during my work career working at these theater was the greatest and fun job I have ever had. It was the people. When ever I return to Provo there is a sadness that those jewels are no longer there.

  3. Contact me concerning photos of the Paramount Theater. Steve at the Provo City Library.

  4. Prior to being named the Paramount, this was the Columbia Theater and I believe it was built around 1917. The name change occurred in the late twenties. I believe that it continued to operate until about 1987/1988. One source I found indicated that the orchestra pit was filled in with concrete only as recently as the 1970s (when other modernization was going on with the building).

  5. The Paramount became a dollar theater in 1987 due to competition from the Movies 8 dollar theater complex in the Shopko parking lot. It closed in the spring of 1989 when I was a senior at Provo High. The last movie I saw there was Scrooged with Bill Murray. Little did I know, my date that night would eventually become my wife.. Good times there.. It’s too bad through the early 80’s blockbusters like E.T., Return of the Jedi, Back to the Future, etc, that the Paramount, Unita, and Acadamy theaters chose to milk out the massive profits and let the theaters become rather run down. Had they made improvements and upgrades, they may have stood the competition the new 8 plex brought to town.

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