ST. CLOUD -- This year is the 100th anniversary of the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown St. Cloud. It was on Christmas Eve in 1921 when the then-called Sherman Theatre opened.

St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis says attendees watched the silent film "Way Down East".

It opened up as the Sherman Theatre in a grand way on Christmas Eve, assuming as a fundraiser.  It was .50 cents to attend and back then that was a pretty high price for an opening night.

It wasn't the first theater in town, but at the time it was considered the grandest with seating for 1,700, beautiful architecture, and an organ. Kleis says the Breen Hotel was also built at the same time, giving theater-goers a place to stay downtown.

Because it's not only an attraction for those that live in the community, but it brings in the people from the surrounding area, so my assumption is that was absolutely the rationale behind creating that type of theatre and the accommodations to go along with it.

The building was renamed the Paramount in 1930. The Breen Hotel is now known as the Germain Towers.

Executive Director Bob Johnson says the centennial committee is planning a series of events throughout the year to celebrate the significance of the building.

We want to talk about, throughout this year, the importance of art and the importance of this enterprise being downtown.  More and more downtowns are evolving and we need destinations for people to bring them down here because it feeds retail and restaurants and bars.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most of their events will have to be virtual to start with. Johnson says they are hoping to host a tented block party in August and invite some famous alumnus to attend. And then maybe start bringing people back inside the theatre with some smaller performances this fall.

He says they've also applied for some federal grant money to help with funding.

We're in the midst of applying for some Save our Stages money, which is part of the new Federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.  There's $15 billion allocated there for stages across the country.

The Paramount has been closed to the public since March 14th.

The Paramount Theatre centennial committee is still looking for more stories, costumes, ticket stubs, playbills and more memorabilia that residents want to share throughout the year.

The series "A Century in St. Cloud" will be heard once a month throughout 2021 on the News @ Noon Show on WJON featuring the historic Paramount Theatre.

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