|Paramount Theatre Chilliwack B.C. © Ian Meissner|
The Paramount Theatre opened June 9, 1949 and was billed as being "completely ultra-modern in every respect" including the modern miracle of air conditioning, soft restful spring chairs, sound installation and a popcorn and candy bar in the lobby. "Six hundred and eight people will be accommodated on the first floor and 292 on the balcony of the new theatre." Because the floor is curved and the screen mounted high it was boasted that "even the shortest customer will be able to see over the tall lady with the high featured hat".
|P2573 © Chilliwack Museum|
The theatre was built, as were all the Famous Player Theatres at the time, on a theme - the Paramount was supposed to look like a cruise ship. That's why the steps in the foyer are curved like that and why there are circular "porthole" lighting scones in the theatre. These wall lights used to have fake fish in them to complete the look.
An immense outdoor sign extending the full height of the building boldly proclaimed the word "Paramount" accented by blinking lights running down the side. This sign has become a landmark in Chilliwack adding a splash of needed colour to the downtown core. It will be sorely missed by many.
Solidly built the Paramount featured laminated firewalls, 800 yards of reinforced concrete in the main walls and 60 tons of structural steel. The largest of the cantilevered steel guiders being 24-inch I-beams equal in size to any single steel beam in the Pattulo bridge.
In 1977 a second screen was added converting the former balcony section into a new theatre.
There have been 22,427 days since the Paramount Theatre opened during which time tens of thousands of films have been shown. For many people it was the place to take a first date, where new friends were found lining up in the early afternoon for an evening showing of Harry Potter and always a place to be entertained.
Thousands of personal stories have been started at the Paramount theatre, and that is why I was so pleased, when, I learned today that the Landmark Cinemas of Canada had made a generous donation of the land and building to the City of Chilliwack. Landmark that was a class act! Thank you there are too few buildings with any real architectural merit in Chilliwack. While it is too early to know what the City is planning it is nice to know that Chilliwack to running the coming attraction.
|Thank you © Stephen Mullock|
Imagine living here.
P.S. I'd like to thank Ian Meissner for the picture he took of the Paramount's last night. Also, I had a lot of help from Shannon at the Chilliwack Museum Archive and much of the information comes from sources found there - thank you.
Stephen Mullock RI is an award winning full-time real estate agent with 29 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) for experience, local knowledge, friendly service that is usually on time; you’ll be happy you did.