Long Island University

adaptive reuse, Downtown Brooklyn, History

Brooklyn Paramount Theater

© NYCAGO

Back in the summer we uncovered the history of the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre, which has been home to Long Island University’s gymnasium since 1963. But now, the day before the Loew’s Kings Theatre, a fellow historic movie house in Brooklyn, is set to reopen to the public, we’ve learned that the Paramount will follow suite.

Brooklyn Daily reports that the Flushing Avenue theatre in Downtown Brooklyn will once again show live performances to the public, thanks to a deal between LIU and an affiliate of the Barclays Center, which will bring 1,500 seats back to the venue (down from the original 4,000) and showcase musical and comedy performances and boxing matches, all with an emphasis on emerging artists. The remainder of the space will still serve as a practice gym for LIU athletics.

More details ahead

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Downtown Brooklyn, Features, History

Brooklyn Paramount Theater

We’re thinking of becoming local college basketball fans — not necessarily because we love the sport, but because we’re dying to get inside this Long Island University gymnasium that was once the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. Commissioned in 1928 by Paramount Pictures, with a sister theatre in Times Square, this regal venue was the largest movie theatre in Brooklyn, second largest in the city, and the first theatre designed for talking pictures. Noted theatre architects Rapp and Rapp designed the rococo-style palace with 4,084 burgundy velvet seats, a ceiling painted with clouds, a 60-foot stage curtain decorated with satin-embroidered pheasants, huge chandeliers, and tiered fountains filled with goldfish.

Movie houses struggled during the depression years, and by 1936 the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre had lost $1.5 million since opening. In 1950 Long Island University purchased the building, and twelve years later they renovated the auditorium as their gymnasium keeping the original, ornate details of the space intact. The LIU Blackbirds played their first game in 1963, and in 1975 a second renovation occurred thanks to funding from local businesses.

We uncover the storied past of this grand movie palace

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