The VSC gals gathered for a Saturday morning tour of one of the Bay Area’s premier Art Deco movie palaces, Timothy Pflueger's fabulous Paramount Theater in Oakland.
The Paramount Theater opened in 1931 and hosted nightly films along with a full stage show of vaudeville performances, a house orchestra, and a chorus line of dancing girls. Sadly, operating costs were far too high for this kind of lineup in the midst of a depression so the theatre closed just one year later. It reopened in 1933 and continued to show films (sans stage show) until 1970.
Decades of use left the theater dirty and neglected, but thanks to the Oakland Symphony Orchestra, the Paramount Theater was painstakingly restored to it’s original 1931 condition and reopened in 1973. It’s changed hands several times, but has been home to symphonies, ballets, concerts, stage plays and films ever since.
It is amazing what steps were taken to make this a restoration project, rather than just renovation. The curtain patterns, light sconces, frescos, statues - everything was researched and painstakingly restored to as close to the original '31 designs as possible. The effect is breathtaking. Notable were the "leaf, flower, vine, zigzags and swirls" repeating motifs throughout, giving the impression of being in a forest.
Highlights of the tour included revisiting the green powder room where we took a group photo about a year ago, and sneaking a peek the men’s room where some of us took the opportunity to relieve ourselves. Also, the fancy "seat annunciators" which allowed ushers to communicate with the box office.
After the tour, we went to Flora for brunch where we managed to not take a single photo of us because we were having so much fun. Oops!
A few of us finished off the day with a trip to Over Attired for a bit of shopping, while others headed to yet another Timothy Pflueger designed movie palace, The Castro Theater in San Francisco, for the Silent Film Festival.
-Brianne & Annabelle