Paramount Theater History
Originally built as a 1500-seat movie palace by Publix Pictures, a subsidiary of Paramount Pictures, the Peekskill Paramount Theater first opened its doors to the public with great fanfare on June 27, 1930.
The Inaugural program featured an overture by the Paramount Symphony Orchestra, an appearance by the village mayor, and “A Paramount All-Talking Picture,” The Big Pond, starring Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert.
At the time, Publix Theaters was recognized as a leader in the theater building industry, and the Peekskill Paramount was constructed as a state-of-the-art facility, unrivalled in the region.
Designed by the noted architectural firm of George and Charles Rapp, who designed great theater all across the country, the Paramount boasted “a mammoth cooling and air conditioning plant, a beautifully furnished lounge, rest rooms and many other exclusive features.” It even had a great Wurlitzer theater organ, which rose from the pit, played for years by Banks Kennedy.
The Paramount prospered for decades despite the Depression and World War II. However, it was the advent of shopping malls and television that brought on its demise as a movie theater. Paramount sold the building in 1973. Eventually the building was acquired by the City of Peekskill in 1977 due to a tax default.
The Paramount Theater has been designated a Westchester County Landmark, and is on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. In 2006, a $1 million grant from NY State along with generous support from Entergy Corporation allowed the theater to be restored to initial glory.
Today the newly dubbed Paramount Hudson Valley is managed and operated by the nonprofit Paramount Hudson Valley Arts 501(c)(3) with a goal of making this landmark theater a destination for the very best of live music and performing arts.