From the rubble: Paramount rebirth under way

The Paramount renovation project is no secret, but the work that has already taken place behind the boldly painted plywood construction wall on the Downtown Mall is more extensive than many of the media invited in on Friday, July 18, ever imagined.

Like a giant tooth extraction, a gaping, rubble-filled hole occupies the space where the building adjacent to the theater once stood. In that spot, a new structure will rise to house elevators, a box office, and conference rooms for the theater.

But the theater proper echoed with the loudest oohs and ahhs. The main hall is now a massive cavern, open all the way down to the newly excavated basement. The original ceiling paintings and wood carvings are only a few signs of what is to come.

"We'll be taking this back to the way it was when the theater opened in 1931," says Chad Hershner, executive director of the Paramount. Of the $14 million budget, more than $13 million has been raised through grants and corporate and private donations.

Opening is scheduled for October 2004.

Read more on: the paramount