Many Austinites may remember the night of the Paramount Theatre’s 100th anniversary, celebrated in October 2015. That night, Patty Griffin played a sold-out show, and the air felt electric as officials relit the restored Paramount sign. It was a night for the Austin history books, but for those unfamiliar with the iconic theater, let’s rewind.


The doors of the four-story neoclassical theater first swung open in October 1915, boasting the name The Majestic Theatre. On opening night, then-Mayor A. P. Wooldridge gave a speech, calling the venue “…the last word in theater architecture, having real benefaction to the town.” The theater’s first marquee displayed an entry fee of 20 cents. It was modern and led Austin forward in style. In fact, it wasn’t long before the wide dirt road out front (Congress Avenue) later became Austin’s first paved road. Those inviting doors drew in performers like Houdini, Charlie Chaplin and Katharine Hepburn. Paramount Pictures purchased and revamped the theater in 1930, and they erected the Paramount blade, a 75-foot-high sign boasting the theater’s name, topped with a sunburst of bright lights.


The iconic blade is still synonymous with the theater today. Though taken down during renovations in 1963, a remake of the original blade returned in 2015 for the Paramount’s 100th birthday. The new blade is covered in hundreds of lights in its original colors. Notable names such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dr. Maya Angelou, Miles Davis, Bonnie Raitt, Gladys Night and President Barak Obama (while he was in office) have graced the Paramount’s stage over the years. Its blade still shines bright each night, reaching toward the Austin sky and drawing in big names and crowds year after year.

Brittany Williams is a writer and Realtor in Austin where she loves exploring the city’s green spaces with her husband, son and daughter.

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