Paramount drive shifts to high gear

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 31, 2002

Supporters of the Paramount Theatre's restoration are pulling out all the stops.

They have recruited Kaye Perry for a poster. Perry strikes an Uncle Samantha pose on the poster and announces "We want you" to help complete the restoration of the historic building.

Fliers also exhort potential donors to "become a Paramount lover."

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Jim Burroughs, long-time treasurer of the restoration committee, thinks the time is right for a successful final fund drive. "We really haven't done something like this before. We've always waited for other important community projects like the library or the high school restoration. Now, we believe the time is ours," Burroughs said.

A press conference Thursday night formally announced plans to raise $1 million to complete the ambitious plans for the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1929 along 4th Avenue Northeast at the 1st Street intersection, the Paramount Theatre was a premier movie place for decades. In later years, it served as a nightclub, disco and comedy club before the Austin Area Commission for the Arts took over.

Now, plans call for it to become a cultural center and anchor a downtown redevelopment effort.

Austin Mayor Bonnie Rietz and the Rev. Beth Johnson are co-chairpersons of the fund drive, which includes a "blitz-style campaign in June

Both the city of Austin and Mower County have given generous contributions, $50,000 each, and Mayor Rietz is confident the fund drive will be a success.

"We're very blessed to have this historical building in Austin," Rietz said.

Burroughs said fund raising efforts have been frustrating, but he, too, sees progress in the impressive restoration efforts already completed and the attitude of supporters. "After only 12 years, we're looking at the light at the end of the tunnel," Burroughs said.

Harry Stevens, whose wife Joanne has been a mainstay of the restoration and fund-raising efforts for so many years, also showed confidence. "The momentum is with us now," Stevens said.

So, there are posters and fliers and a corps of volunteers to solicit for funds in June.

There's also a "victory party" scheduled in September.

Contributors can buy a theater seat, star in the ceiling or more.

For more information about the fund-drive, contact Scott Anderson, theater manager, at 433-0934.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at