The future of the Paramount

The Paramount Theatre is one of my favorite buildings in Cedar Rapids. Before the flood, I had only been there once (also for the paper, when I was here as an intern in fall 2006). I immediately fell in love with the architecture, the ambiance, the feeling that I had stepped back in time as I walked into the lobby.

The second time I went to the theatre, one of the symphony percussionists took me and a reporter through a door behind the stage to view the flood damage (it was part of my post-flood downtown tour), and I photographed the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ toppled onto its back, lit only by the open door, the rest of the theatre enveloped in darkness. I haven't heard much about the organ lately, but, it's been removed from the theatre and will hopefully be repaired and restored to its location. The photo from June:

This week, as part of Rick Smith's story in the Gazette on the future of historic buildings, I photographed the theatre again. The front door is still boarded up (see the first photo), and, like Vets Memorial, plastic tubing stretches across the floor, delivering fresh air and heat to protect the building during the winter.

A few technical notes, for those that are curious: the photo of the lobby, known as the Hall of Mirrors, was a 30-second exposure, lit only by my dying Maglite (a technique called painting with light). My guide was running late to a meeting, so I only shot four frames of the hall, and I wasn't quite able to perfect the lighting. Depending on the building's future, I'd love to get back in there with a few hours at my disposal, to photograph more of the theatre using light painting. The photo below was a one-second exposure, lit only with a work light in the left corner.

"It is such a unique asset to the state of Iowa," Council member Brian Fagan says in Rick's story. "I don't know anywhere else that has a venue like that. And as an icon of Cedar Rapids, as an historical feature in our community, it is in my opinion — and from the information I have now and after touring it — we've got to reinvest in that. It is worth saving."

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