ST. CLOUD -- From its very beginning, the Paramount Theatre has been a center for entertainment in St. Cloud.

Of course, when it opened on Christmas Eve in 1921 it was primarily a movie theater, but it was also used as a place for vaudeville acts to perform.

The way that the managers would program is they would book a whole slew of artists for the night, maybe 10 to 20 different artists, and you'd sort of get your chance to go past the curtain line which are legs in the theater.  So if you could break the leg and get on stage then that was a success.

Performing Arts Director Gretchen Boulka says in the 1930s it changed ownership going from the Sherman Theater to the Paramount Theater but was still known for showing the top movies coming out of Hollywood at the time.

Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre
Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre

The building was used to sell war bonds in the 1940s.

And then it started to fall into disrepair in the 1960s and 1970s.

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A large fire nearly destroyed the Paramount in 1985. But then a group of preservations saved and renovated it in 1998. Since then a number of top performers have graced the stage.

Wow, Arlo Guthrie has been here, and Wynonna Judd, and Clint Black, some of these big names.  It's a special place for sure.

Boulka says Prince's band The Revolution is probably her favorite group to ever perform there.

As part of the major renovation, two original chandeliers that were in the lobby were found up in Staples. They were bought back and installed in their original locations.

Once a month we're featuring stories of the Paramount Theater in our ongoing series "Century In St. Cloud" during this 100th anniversary of the building.

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