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May 19, 2024 | General,

The History of the Emerson Paramount Center

ArtsEmerson is proud to host performances at a number of different venues in across Downtown Boston, including two theater spaces at the historical Paramount Center, located at 559 Washington Street. The Paramount Center has been home to some of ArtsEmerson’s most popular productions, including The White Card, Moby Dick, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Mala, Parable of the Sower, and of course, our annual Season Preview Event.

Emerson’s Paramount Center, located in the heart of Boston’s bustling Theater District, is a testament to the city’s rich theatrical history and cultural vitality. This venue has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the district, serving as a beacon of entertainment since its inception. The space originally opened its doors in 1932, designed in the Art Deco style, as the “Paramount Theatre.” It quickly became a landmark destination for the newest films and performances. However, like many historic theaters, the Paramount fell into decline and eventual closure in 1976 due to changing entertainment habits and urban development pressures.

In 2005, Emerson College announced plans to restore the Paramount and convert it into a vibrant center for the arts. The extensive renovations preserved many of the original Art Deco features while modernizing the facilities to accommodate contemporary performances. Reopened in 2010, the Paramount now includes a 596-seat theater known as the Robert J. Orchard Theatre, The Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre, The Bright Family Screening Room, a colorful marquee, and various rehearsal studios. It has become a cornerstone of Emerson College’s arts program, hosting a wide range of live performances, from theater to dance and film. The Paramount Theater’s history is an embodiment of the larger story of the Boston Theater District. Its rise, fall, and rebirth mirror the ebbs and flows of urban entertainment trends and the ongoing commitment to preserving cultural heritage. Today, as the lights of the Paramount Theater shine bright once again, they illuminate not just the streets of Boston but also the city’s enduring love for the performing arts.

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