Historic Paramount Theater Making a Comeback

Paramount Theater under renovation Photo credit: By Jim Henderson  [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Paramount Theater under renovation Photo credit: By Jim Henderson [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
The world’s first theater built for “talkies” the Paramount Theater on DeKalb and Flatbush Avenues will be undergoing a 24-month renovation to transform it back into a performance space.

The theater was designed by Rapp and Rapp, famed Chicago theater architects, and opened in 1928. The building is a rococo design and became a place to showcase the burgeoning music style known as “jazz” to the Brooklyn audience.   The Paramount introduced such legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis to New York City.

Alan Freed, the legendary disc jockey had his famed rock and roll concerts here, and gave Chuck Berry his New York stage debut performance in 1955. In 1957 Buddy Holly also performed here.

In 1962 the Paramount closed as a performance space and was converted into a gymnasium and arena for Long Island University. Classrooms, conference rooms and a student center were also introduced into the rest of the building.

Despite the building’s new usage as the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center, the rococo embellishments on the ceiling and walls were maintained. The Wurlitzer theater pipe organ was not only left in place, but played all these years with the help of the New York Theater Organ Society.

Bruce Ratner, the developer of Barclays Center, and Onexim Sports and Entertainment will also manage the new Paramount. Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center will be in charge of all business affairs.

“For years, I have admired the beautiful shell that remains of Brooklyn Paramount at LIU and I am excited to restore the iconic venue to its rightful splendor” Ratner said in the release. “I have had a long association with LIU Brooklyn and am proud to expand that relationship by joining with Onexim Sports and Entertainment to revive the storied Brooklyn Paramount and make it a world-renowned theater once again.”


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)