Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center ~ Omaha, NE ~ Atmospheric Theatre
Built in 1926, as the Riviera Theatre, the Paramount, as it was known just three years after opening, was distinctive for its unusual Moorish and Italian Renaissance architecture, a combination seldom seen in the Midwest.
Designed by nationally known theater architect John Eberson, its exterior focal point is a large copper domed tower, flanked by two smaller towers of similar detailing. The diamond-patterned brick facades contain oriel windows, elaborate cornices, glazed terra-cotta tile copings, and a series of free-standing columns which support griffens.
The courtyard atmospheric interior, labeled Hispano-Italian by Eberson, had a sky-like domed ceiling painted dark blue with small, recessed incandescent twinkling lights simulating stars on a tropical night, with artificial fleecy clouds. The lower lobby had water funtains and aquariums filled with goldfish. The orchestra pit and theater organ could be raised or lowered with hydraulic jacks. Both stage productions and motion pictures were presented.
In 1960, the theater’s name was changed to the Astro. The huge corner wrap-around marquee, which had become a problem to maintain, was covered by a vinyl material and a single large name and program sign erected above the corner.
The theater closed in the early 1980s, and in the late 1990s faced the wrecking ball. Most fortunately, Mrs. Rose Blumkin, a wealthy Omaha business woman, purchased it from Creighton University and completely restored the theater to its original opulence. The theater reopened as the the Rose Blumkin Peforming Arts Center, after its savior.
The theater is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
By Onasill ~ Bill Badzo on 2003-01-01 00:00:00