Emerson College Paramount Theatre

Paramount Theatre

Arthur Bowditch, 1930–1932

Elkus Manfredi Architects, renovation, 2009

Boston Landmark

BSA Honor Award for Design Excellence, 2010

Preservation Achievement Award, 2010

The original theater was built exclusively for films, with a large Wurlitzer organ that could be raised to stage level for entertainment before the movie. The façade is dominated by a “moderne” sign, which was particularly effective when illuminated at night. Much of the deco marquee was removed. The art deco interiors have inlaid woodwork of polished Oriental walnut and African ebony with geometric aluminum and gold decorations. Many of the design motifs were used in other Paramount theaters across the country.

From the BSA jury comments:

"In a remarkable feat of adaptive reuse, one derelict theater, an arcade building and a vacant lot were transformed into a mixed-use academic center requiring dissimilar programs that include residential, educational, business and performing arts. The special design challenge was to convert a neglected 1,500-seat 1931 cinema to a 590-seat full proscenium theater within the original building footprint and envelope massing. All the work was accomplished in a dense urban neighborhood with limited street frontage. Its exterior and interior look beautiful, and the systems upgrades are fantastic."

Source: Elkus Manfredi