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Paramount (Portland) Theatre - 4/20 Wurlitzer, Publix 1
Portland, Oregon
1037 SW Broadway & Main
Organ installation timeframe: 1928 - 1970s
 
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Paramount console, date unknown
 
Originally named the "Portland," the theatre opened at 7:00pm on March 8, 1928. The theatre seated 3,036 and was designed by the Chicago firm of C.W. and George L. Rapp for the Paramount Publix theatre chain. The name was changed to Paramount about 1930.
 
The organ was a 4/20 Publix 1 opus 1831 similar to the Seattle Paramount Wurlitzer. The instrument was shipped from the factory in January 1928 and the installation was supervised by Wurlitzer employee Harry E. Carruthers.
 
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Another view of the Paramount console, this time missing its unique console-top urns in this photo, date unknown
 
Looking North on Broadway, the picture to the right shows the Paramount marquee in 1936. The Mayfair and Orpheum Theatre signage is visable up the street.
 
Dennis Hedberg spent many hours in the early 1960's bringing the organ up to playing condition. The instrument remained completely original until it was sold to the Forchuks (Organ Grinder financiers), and moved to the Denver Organ Grinder restaurant.
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Paramount entrance, c.1936
 
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Console (with urns) Main chamber Solo chamber
 
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Two views of the Paramount interior. Left photo: house left organ grill. Right photo: overall view showing Wurlitzer console on left side of orchestra pit.
 

Broadway looking North, c.1930
 

Broadway looking North, c.1946
 
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Broadway, looking North c.1950
 


More shots of Broadway, looking North. Click on any picture for a larger version.
 
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c.1930
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c.1936
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c.1940
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c.1941
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c.1943
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c.1944
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c.1945
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c.1946
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c.1953
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c.1954
 
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c.1940s
 

c.1960s
 

Excerpts from Theatre Organ, Spring 1963, V5, No.1. Story by Bill Peterson:
 
The day was Thursday March 8, 1928, the hour was 7:00, for the opening of the magnificent new Portland Theatre (later Paramount Theatre). The house lights dimmed and, from the orchestra pit, Liborius Hauptmann directed the Portland Grand Orchestra in selections from Faust. Following the overture came a short novelty film and the Paramount News. As the velvet curtain closed, a white spotlight caught the ivory and gold WurliTzer as it rose from the pit with Ralph Hamilton playing "Organs I Have Played." After the console had slowly sunk from sight, Alex Hyde and the Portland Stage Band appeared to accompany "A Merry Widow Revue" direct from the New York Paramount Theatre and produced by Frank Cambria. This revue consisted of six acts... then the curtains opened on the feature picture which was "Feel My Pulse," starring Bebe Daniels, William Powell, and Richard Arlen.
 
The Portland Theatre was designed by C.W. and George Rapp and was built by the Association of Publix and Loew under the direction of West Coast Theatres. The 3300-plus seats were placed amid sumptuous surroundings indeed. After about a year, the theatre was renamed the Paramount. The WurliTzer console was presided over by such well-known artists as Oliver Wallace, Stanleigh Mallotte, and the popular team of Don and Iris Wilkins, among others. As a matter of fact, the organ was used regularly well into the 1930's.

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Broadway and SW Salmon Streets, c.1954
 


Click for a larger version of this image (40K) The Paramount Theatre building still exists and was acquired by the City of Portland in the early 1980s. After extensive refurbishing, it reopened in 1984 as the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, home of the Oregon Symphony. The City owns the building which is part of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. The marquee was restored to the original theatre name: "Portland."

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