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Drive-by Architecture

THE PARAMOUNT THEATER (1915)
Austin, Texas

Neo Classical Revival
Architect: John Eberson

by Johnny Stucco

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Paramount Theatre, Austin Texas
Built in 1915, remodeled in 1930 and 1959
TE Photo
The beauty of this building makes it one of the jewels of Congress Avenue.

The theater was built in 1915, but the date inscribed over the windows shows the date the Nalle family acquired the property. The name is that of Joseph Nalle, a former Mayor of Austin, but the theater was the idea of his son, Ernest. It opened on October 11, 1915, only eight short months after the bid was accepted

The cost was $150,000.
Paramount Theater, Austin, Texas
The Paramount Theater
TE photo
John Eberson was a Chicago architect who specialized in theaters In addition to the Paramount, he also designed theaters in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, many of them still standing today. (See San Antonio's Majestic Theater - Coming soon.)

In 1930, The property was bought and the theater was renamed the Paramount. Air conditioning replaced the ceiling fans and the huge organ, which had accompanied silent films, was donated to a local church. The ticket kiosk was eliminated and the lobby was altered to accommodate a refreshment stand.

The roster of names to perform at the theater includes Helen Hays, Katherine Hepburn, and Anna Pavlova.


Live performances decreased as popularity waned, but they continued up until 1960, about the time the theater underwent another remodeling. Despite the several remodelings, Austinites who attended movies and performances there in the 1920s would probably still recognize the building today.

In 1975 The Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts Inc. leased the building and currently shows selected movies and hosts occasional live performances.

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John Troesser

September 2001

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