Historic Paramount comes to life
Rejuvenation of theater brings possibility for new life in heart of Stapleton
Sunday, January 03, 2010
By JODI LEE REIFER
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The long-dark Paramount Theater is set to reopen later this month as an entertainment venue, sparking hope the historic building will pump new life into Stapleton’s commercial heart.
The Art Deco theater, with its figurative wall sculptures and Egyptian-style ceiling paintings, opened in 1930 at 560 Bay St. with 2,500 seats. In its ’40s heyday, the venue was the site of beauty and jitterbug contests and war bond auctions. Movie stars such as Gary Cooper, Mary Pickford and Mae West appeared on stage there, and it was one of only 10 theaters in the country that possessed two giant organs.
The venue will serve as a catering hall, restaurant and performance center, with bands, comics and plays potentially appearing on stage, said Hsiu Sung (David) Yang, who is opening the Paramount with partners Charley Zerrilli and Peter Lisi as part of SI Paramount Inc.
“It’s going to revitalize the neighborhood by bringing in some good acts,” said Lisi.
The Paramount closed as a movie theater in 1977, a wallflower at the dawn of the multiplex era. It morphed into a multi-purpose hall in 1979. By the early ’80s, it was a club drawing bands such as the B-52s, Squeeze, the Ramones and rising new wave acts. But the club only lasted a few years, leaving the theater vacant for about 25 years.