Paramount Theatre, Oakland, California
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Page Four: 1929-1931
Great Depression and Grand Opening

Opening Night
Page One
Timothy Pflueger
Page Two
Pflueger & Rivera
Page Three
Artists & Designers
Page Four
Timeline: 1929-1931
Page Five
Under Construction
Page Six
Under Construction
History of the Paramount Theatre
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(Page Four)

Timeline: 1929-1931

  • October 29, 1929: "Black Tuesday". The stock market crashes and the American economy capsizes. The Roaring Twenties end and the Great Depression begins.
  • January 31, 1930: Investment Properties Corporation contracts with Publix Theatres, the exhibiting organization of Paramount Pictures, to acquire the site at Hobart (now 21st Street) and Broadway in Oakland and to construct the building for lease to Publix. Publix agrees to equip and furnish the theatre and pay construction costs in excess of $750,000. A clause specifies that "Messrs. Miller and Pflueger, Architects of San Francisco, California... are to supervise the construction and completion of said building."
  • December 10, 1930: One day before the official construction ground-breaking ceremony, Fox Film Corporation agrees to sublease the theatre from Publix upon completion and to reimburse Publix for its costs.
  • December 11, 1930: Ten East Bay mayors attend the Paramount ground-breaking. The ceremony is performed with a golden spade by E. B. Field, President of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. (The spade is currently on public view in a Paramount Theatre lobby case.) Speeches are made by Paramount and municipal officials, including Commissioner George H. Wilhelm representing Oakland Mayor John L. Davie, who is ill. A parade with music by the ROTC Band and the Oakland Firemen's Band marks the occasion.
  • December 15, 1931: The Oakland Tribune proclaims, "Adding greater beauty and splendor to our city, standing as a magnificent tribute to its architects and builders, Oakland's new $3,000,000 Paramount Theatre will throw open its doors tomorrow night..."
  • December 16, 1931: A year and five days after the ground-breaking, the theatre opens with all the customary fanfare. A late afternoon luncheon at the Hotel Leamington precedes the dedication ceremony at the theatre. At 5:00 p.m. on a streetside bandstand, President C. J. Struble of the Oakand Chamber of Commerce dedicates the theatre to the East Bay public, a trust accepted by Oakland Mayor Fred. N. Morcom who introduces a speech by California Governor "Sunny Jim" Rolph. Arch M. Bowles's pledge of community service, made on behalf of Fox-West Coast Theatres, is followed by speeches by members of the Hollywood contingent, director Howard Shechart, and stars George Bancroft, John Breeden, Elissa Landi, John Boles, and Frances Dee.

    The gala premiere is attended by Kay Francis, star of the opening film, "The False Madonna," and cast members Conway Tearle, Charles D. Brown, Marjorie Gateson, and William Boyd (not yet known as Hopalong Cassidy). After the showing of the feature film, Fanchon & Marco's stage show "Slavique Idea" is accompanied by the 16-piece house orchestra under Lou Kisloff. Variety acts Brock and Thompson, Patsy Marr, Sam Hearn, the Seven Arconis, dancer Lavonne Sweet and the Sunkist Beauties chorus line make up the rest of the program. Orchestra and loge tickets are 85 cents, balcony tickets are 60 cents.

    Audience members at the 9:00 p.m. repeat performance are spared the speeches. Both programs are broadcast to a throng estimated at 10,000 that crowd the roped-off street in front of the flood-lit theatre. Theatre officials apparently succeed in their announced intention to produce a first night to "rival in magnificence and splendor any similar opening on the Pacific Coast."
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