Paramount Theater

A New Role to Play

When the Sherman Theater opened in 1921, it was one of the grandest theaters in the St. Cloud area, with 1,200 seats, opulent interior decoration,

The Paramount Theater marquee is attached to the exterior of the adjacent Knights of Columbus Building on St. Germain Street in downtown St. Cloud’s historic commercial district.

and a large stage for vaudeville performances.  In 1930, the theater was renovated and adapted with a new sound system to screen “talkies,” and was renamed the Paramount Theater. For thirty years, the Paramount was used to screen films, but also hosted road shows and other performances. The facility fell into disrepair in the 1960s and, after two decades of limited use, was significantly damaged by fire in 1985. In the mid 1990s, the St. Cloud Housing & Redevelopment Authority (HRA) took ownership of the theater, which is sandwiched mid-block between the privately owned Knight of Columbus Building and the historic Breen Hotel, which was converted to affordable apartments in 1990. After a two-year, $5.5 million renovation, financed partly by private donations and the remainder by the sale of municipal bonds, the theater reopened to the public in 1998. Sale of the building from the St. Cloud Housing and Redevelopment Authority to the city of St. Cloud in 2004 set up the Paramount Arts Resource Trust as the non-profit manager of the building and the basement-level arts center.

The theater’s opulent interior was restored but sensitively reduced in size, whittling the number of seats from 1,200 to 714.

Today, the theater is still operated by the Paramount Arts Resource Trust. Its business model is focused on keeping the theater relevant to as many people as possible, by hosting a wide variety of events, from symphony performances to country western concerts. By doing so, a wide cross-section of the public has a stake in the building, and the building has a consistent purpose, making it a valuable community asset. The theater reaps large profit margins from booking popular professional musicians, which allows access to community organizations at more reasonable rates. The Trust is also active in educational outreach and works with various groups in the community.

Although the Paramount Theater renovation was a considerable investment for the city, the initial skepticism has given way to support as the theater has continued to demonstrate its invaluable role in the history, culture, and community of St. Cloud.

The lobby and circulation areas connect to the ground floor of the adjacent historic Breen Hotel (now Germain Towers), providing additional room for ticket sales, administrative offices, restrooms, and a gallery/gift shop. The basement areas of both buildings are used by the Visual Arts Center for classroom and studio space.

Project Details

Architect: GLTArchitects, St. Cloud

 

For Further Information

Paramount Arts Resource Trust

Downtown St. Cloud Digital History Tour (video)

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