Austin History Center

Paramount Theater Records

An Inventory of the collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Interstate Theater Circuit
Creator: Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts
Title: Paramount Theater Records
Inclusive Dates: 1934-2015
Bulk Dates: 1943-2000
Abstract: Records of the Paramount Theater and its relation to the Interstate Theater Circuit (ITC) and Trans Texas Theater Company. In addition, it includes Louis Novy's personal and business correspondence and records dealing with his tenure as the ITC manager. It also includes records of the Paramount Theater of the Performing Arts organization lead by John Bernadoni and others who managed the restoration of the Paramount Theater during the mid to late 1970s and developed its role as a public nonprofit arts organization.
Identification: AR.2001.018
Quantity: 6 linear feet (16 boxes, scrapbook and certificate)
Location Archives Stacks, Oversized Volumes, qAR
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

The Paramount Theater was designed by John Eberson, who was known as "Opera House" John. Eberson designed many theaters across Texas for the Interstate Theater Circuit (ITC), a vaudeville company run by Karl Hoblitzelle out of Dallas. Eberson was assisted by local architect G. A. Endress. It was built in 1915 by Edgar Nalle and had its grand opening on October 11, 1915. Originally called the Majestic because it was part of the national Majestic Vaudeville Circuit, it opened with vaudeville and movie offerings, though the original emphasis was on live performances. The lavish interior included 1600 seats. Upon opening, Eberson called it "one of the best theaters in the country." Though built as a vaudeville house, it included 2 projectors in a fire-proof room to protect against the dangers of nitrate film.

It was renovated in 1930 with art nouveau interiors, including a painting of the patron saint of music St. Cecilia on the proscenium arch, and renamed the Paramount. In 1934 it became the first Texas theater to introduce Wide Range, a new sound technology from Western Electric Sound. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Paramount continued to offer live entertainment along with movies.

By the 1950s, the Paramount began its decline. ABC bought the theater (and other ITC assets), and the theater never really recovered. In 1966, the Paramount returned to the forefront of Austin theaters with the world premiere of the new "Batman" movie, but the continued flight of movie theaters and movie goers to the suburbs threatened the demise of the Paramount, nearly making it a statistic along with the hundreds of downtown movie palaces across the country being torn down.

A new company headed by Jon Bernardoni, Chuck Eckerman, and Steve Scott, called Paramount Inc., formed in 1973 to save the theater, which was slated for demolition. It reopened in 1975 as a live theater but included a regular series of classic films to go along with stage productions, as well as a series of Saturday matinees for kids. Struggling to make ends meet, Paramount, Inc. became the non-profit Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts, and the organization began to raise funds to restore the theater. In 1977, the theater became a Registered Texas Historical Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making the theater eligible for federal funds. Restoration of the theater began in 1977, with phase 2 beginning in 1979. During the restoration, the theater returned to its original 1915 appearance, including the opera boxes that were removed in the 1930s. It had its Grand Re-Opening in 1981. The Paramount was home to a world premiere shortly after renovation with the July 11, 1982, release of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." In 2000, the Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts and the State Theater Company merged to form the Austin Theater Alliance, bringing both historic venues under one roof. In 2010, the Paramount Theater won the "This Place Matters" Community Challenge Award from the National Trust for Historic Places.

Scope and Contents

This collection is a combination of donations from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and Charles Root, plus materials that were donated from a variety of sources that were formally housed with the theater collection. These two collections have been merged.

The Charles Root donation consisted of a scrapbook that includes newspaper clippings and photographs dating from 1934-1946.

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center donation includes business correspondence of Louis Novy, city theater manager, that cover the period 1937-1952; financial records dating from 1935-1956 including bookings and box office reports, check records, and War Bond sales records; correspondence, circa 1944-1946; photographs, negatives, and zinc photo plates, circa 1940. In addition there are newspaper clippings, certificates, seating diagram, plans circa 1945-1950, programs, circa 1930s-1950s and a Scottish Rite of Freemasonry certificate belonging to Louis Novy.

The Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts collection includes records of the Paramount Theater's rebirth as a non-profit arts organization and includes internal organization and financial records, correspondence, an extensive collection of programs from events from the early years under Interstate Theater Circuit (ITC) until the 2000s.


The collection is organized into three series: series one contains records of the Paramount restoration and its evolution into the Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts; series two is the Interstate Theater Circuit (ITC) records of the Paramount and other theaters in the ITC group; and series three consists of programs from theater productions, film festivals, and concerts.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open to all users

Restrictions on Use

No restrictions on use

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Root, Charles.
Novy, Louis.
Bernadoni, John.
Hoblitzelle, Carl.
Paramount Theater.
Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts.
Interstate Theater Corporation.
Austin (Tex.)
Historic buildings--Texas--Austin--Conservation and restoration.

Related Material

General Collection

  • A 725.822 PA Paramount Theatre Restoration Project
  • A 792.0976431 PA Memorandum: Paramount Theatre for the Performing Arts. Long-Range Planning Committee
  • A 792.0976431 PA Financial Analysis And Proposed Reorganization
  • A 792.0976431 SI The 65th Anniversary Gala Revue: An Evening In Retrospect

Periodicals Collection

  • Acting Up!
  • The Marquee
  • Paramount Prelude
  • Paramount Presents
  • Paramount Prompter
  • Paramount Theatre for the Performing Arts News Bulletin
  • Producers Playbill

Archives and Manuscripts

  • AR.1991.007 Diana Claitor Papers
  • AR.1991.012 Maline McCalla Papers
  • AR.1998.011 Mary Margaret Albright Farrabee Papers

Austin Files

  • AF Moving Picture Theaters - Paramount M8350

Oversized Archives

  • There are a variety of posters promoting events at the Paramount.

Separated Material

Austin Chapter of the Hadassah--1945 Program was moved to the General Collection

Austin: Its Place Under Texas Skies--moved to the General Collection

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Collection was transferred to the Austin History Center from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. The collection came to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center as a gift from Paramount Inc. around 1975; Paramount Inc., a nonprofit corporation took over the Paramount Theatre in 1974. The collection also includes materials donated by Charles Root and other items formerly housed with the Theater Collection.

Preferred Citation

Paramount Theater Records, (AR.2001.018). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1992/016 and DO/1993/091 (and others)

Donation Date: 10/18/1993 and 5/9/2001

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Melissa Truitt-Green/2012

Preliminary processing by Molly Hults/2009

Detailed Description of the Collection

Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts, 1974-2000

Includes records related to the founding and business of the Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts who purchased and took over the Paramount Theatre during the 1970s.
Box Folder
1 2 Correspondence and Minutes, 1974-1981
3 Correspondence and Minutes, 1981-1983
6 Contact Sheet Prints, 1970s-1980s
8 Clippings, 1980-1981
9 Clippings, 1974-1975
10 Clippings, 1976-1977
11 Clippings, 1977-1980
Box Folder
9 14 Financial Budgets and reports, 1977-1983
15 Board of Directors meeting minutes and agendas, 1982-1983
16 Program and Building Use Committee meeting minutes, 1981
17 Memos and correspondence, 1978-1982
Box Folder
11 1 Fund Drive correspondence and review clippings of productions, 1983
2 65th Anniversary Gala, 1980
3 75th Anniversary Gala, 1990
4 Newsletters and employee retreat schedule, 1980s
5 Bylaws and report of the Nominating Committee, 1982
6 Specifications for renovations and remodeling, 1978
Box Folder
14 2 Board of Directors minutes, 1996-2001, 2006
3 Directories "Les Patrons of the Paramount," 1981-1986
4 Correspondence fundraising, 1980
Box Folder
15 1 Correspondence fliers, 1980
2 Committee reports and correspondence, 1979-1980
3 Correspondence, clippings, and contracts, 1977-1980s
4 Correspondence, fliers, and clipping, 1970s-1980s
5 Clippings, correspondence, and minutes, 1970s-1980s
6 Correspondence, minutes, 1970s-1980s
7 Bylaws, Certificates of Incorporation, 1975
8 Correspondence to Board, 1977-1980
Box Folder
16 1 Board minutes, 1981, 1990-1991, 1992-1994
2 Board minutes, 1994, 1998
3 Board Minutes, 1995-1996
4 Board minutes, 1996-1997
5 Board correspondence, 1975-1978
6 Board correspondence, 1970s-1980

Interstate Theatre Circuit, 1934-1954

Includes Business and Personal Correspondence of Louis Novy and Financial records concerning the ITC holdings in Austin.
Sub-series: Donation Files, 1975
Box Folder
1 1 Ransom Center Donation Files, 1975
Sub-series: Correspondence, 1938, 1943-1946, undated
Box Folder
3 1 Personal Correspondence of Louis Novy, undated
2 Correspondence to Louis Novy from Herbert Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson, 1945, 1946
3 Business Correspondence Louis Novy carbon copies, 1945-1946
4 Business Correspondence Louis Novy A-B (arranged alphabetically by the last name of addressee), 1944-1945
5 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy C-E (arranged alphabetically by last name of addressee or sender), 1943-1945
6 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy F-G (arranged alphabetically by last name of addressee or sender), 1942-1946, undated
7 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy H-J (arranged alphabetically by the last name of addressee or sender), 1944-1946, undated
8 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy K-L (arranged alphabetically by the last name of the addressee or sender), 1946, undated
Box Folder
4 1 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy M-N (arranged by last name of addressee or sender), 1943-1946
2 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy O-P (arranged alphabetically by addressee or sender), 1944-1946, undated
3 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy R (arranged alphabetically by the last name of the addressee or recipient), 1941-1946, undated
4 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy S (arranged alphabetically by the last name of the addressee or sender), 1942-1946, undated
5 Business Correspondence of Louis Novy T-Z (arranged alphabetically by the last name of the addressee or sender), 1944-1946, undated
6 Correspondence to and from John Q. Adams with War Activities Committee, 1942
7 Correspondence to and from John Q. Adams with War Activities Committee, 1942-1943
8 ITC Interstate Theatre Business Correspondence, 1942-1943
9 ITC Internal Business correspondence, 1943-44
Box Folder
5 1 ITC Internal Business correspondence, 1945-1946
2 War Bonds Program correspondence, 1943
3 War Bonds Program correspondence, 1944
4 Personal Correspondence of Bobbye Mitchell (Louis Novy's secretary), 1944-1946
Sub-series: Interstate Theater Circuit Business and Financial Records, 1936-1954, undated
Box Folder
3 9 Financial receipt books, 1936-1938
Box Folder
5 5 Financial receipts, 1944
6 Financial Receipt Books, 1936-1937, 1942
7 Financial Receipts, 1945
Box Folder
6 1 Financial receipts, 1946
2 Advertising costs by name and date, 1946
3 Long distance call logs for Paramount business; Mr. Novy’s personal business; State, Queen, and Capital Theatre business, 1946 and undated
4 Film Inspection reports and screening orders, 1946-1947
5 Monthly ticket inventories for the Paramount, State, Queen, and Capitol Theaters, 1945-1946
6 Purchase orders, 1946
7 Booking charge notices for Paramount, Queen, and Varsity, 1945-1946
8-9 Weekly candy and popcorn sales, 1946
Box Folder
7 1-2 Financial manager's fund reports, 1946
3-4 Theater invoices and check registers, 1946
5-6 Daily Box office registers, 1946
Box Folder
8 1-8 Check register books, 1935-1948
Box Folder
9 1 Certificates and Diplomas 1940-1941,1944-1945
2 War Bond Accounts, 1942-1943
3 Ledgers, 1943-1947
4 Check Registers, 1946-1947
5 Assorted Cards, 1944-1946
6 Mailing lists, 1944-1945
7 Assorted reports and agendas, 1945-1946
8 Assorted notes from Louis Novy, undated
9 Assorted printed material--charitable contributions, 1946
10 Inspection Reports, 1934-1937
11 Travelers weekly expense reports, 1944-1946
12 Motion Picture Advertising screening schedules, 1945
13 Territorial price surveys, 1941-1942
Box Folder
10 1-6 Daily box office receipts, 1952-1953
Box Folder
17 1-3 Daily box office receipts, 1953-1954
Sub-series: Certificates, undated
Location BoxItem
qAR 057/013 Louis Novy Scottish Rite of Freemasonry certificate, undated
Sub-series: Scrapbooks and Photographs, 1930s-1940s, undated
Oversize Volumes Charles Root scrapbook, 1930s-1940s
Charles Root was the manager of the Paramount Theater at this time. The scrapbook includes clippings of movie advertising and articles about Austin theaters (photocopies of the originals), photographs, ITC newsletters, and Chamber of Commerce publications.
Box Folder
1 4-5 Photos of Louis Novy and Others, 1930s-1940s
The two folders of photographs also include images of various theater personnel, images of the Capitol and grounds, the University of Texas Tower, and what appears to be personal photos related to World War II.
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W Negatives Drawer Negatives of Austin, Paramount and State Theatres, undated

Programs, 1923-2015

Includes programs from film and live theater performances at the Paramount Theatre
Box Folder
2 1 Program for "Apple of His Eye," starring Edward Arnold, undated
2 Programs for "Angel Street," by Patrick Hamilton, undated
3 Programs for Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," starring Lilian Harvey, undated
4 Programs for Maxwell Anderson's "Candle in the Wind," starring Helen Hayes, undated
5 Programs for "Favorite Stranger," starring Kay Francis, undated
6 Program for "Good Night Ladies," undated
7 Program for "I Married an Angel," by Rodgers and Hart, undated
8 Programs for "Idiot's Delight," by Robert E. Sherwood, undated
9 Program for the opera "Madame Butterfly," by Puccini, undated
10 Program for "Mr. Roberts," undated
11 Program for "Porgy and Bess," undated
12 Programs for Tennessee Williams's "Summer and Smoke," starring Dorothy McGuire and John Ireland, undated
13 Program for Robert E. Sherwood's "There Shall Be No Night," starring Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Thomas Gomez, Sydney Greenstreet, and Montgomery Clift, undated
14 Program for "Watch on the Rhine," by Lillian Hellman, undated
15 Programs for "Whiteoaks," starring Ethel Barrymore, undated
16 Programs for "The Barretts of Wimpole Street," starring Katharine Cornell, Orson Welles, George Macready, and Basil Rathbone, 1934
17 Programs for Maxwell Anderson's "Mary of Scotland," starring Helen Hayes, 1935
18 Programs for "The Old Maid," starring Judith Anderson, 1936
19 Programs for the 1936 and 1940 editions of "George White's Scandals," 1936, 1940
20 Program for "Boy Meets Girl," 1937
21 Programs for "Tobacco Road," based on the novel by Erskine Caldwell, 1937
22 Programs for Jacques Deval's "Tovarich," with English text by Robert E. Sherwood, 1937
23 Programs for "Room Service," 1937
24 Programs for Shakespeare's "King Richard II," starring Maurice Evans, 1938
25 Programs for "Victoria Regina," starring Helen Hayes, 1938
26 Programs for Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew," starring Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, and Sydney Greenstreet, 1939
27 Program for "No Time for Comedy," starring Katharine Cornell, 1940
28 Programs for Samson Raphaelson's "Skylark," starring Gertrude Lawrence and Vivian Vance, 1940
29 Program for Philip Barry's "The Philadelphia Story," starring Katharine Hepburn, Van Heflin, and Joseph Cotten, 1941
30 Program for "Treat Her Gently," starring Ruth Chatterton, 1941
31 Program for "Claudia," starring Phyllis Thaxter, 1942
32 Program for "Blossom Time," 1945
33 Program for "Joan of Lorraine," starring Diana Barrymore, 1948
34 Program for "Harvey," starring Joe E. Brown, 1948
35 Programs for George Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman," starring Maurice Evans, 1949
36 Programs for Tennessee Williams's " A Streetcar Named Desire," directed by Elia Kazan and starring Ralph Meeker, 1949
37 Programs for John Van Druten's "Bell, Book and Candle," starring Joan Bennett, Zachary Scott, and William Windom, 1952
38 Programs for "Paris '90," written by and starring Cornelia Otis Skinner, 1952
39 Programs for "Strike A Match," starring Pat O'Brien, Eva Gabor, and Richard Egan, 1953
40 Program for George Axelrod's "The Seven Year Itch," starring Eddie Bracken 1955
41 Programs, 1923-1950
Box Folder
11 7 Programs, 1939, 1944, 1970s
8 Programs, 1970s
9 Programs, 1980s
Box Folder
12 1 Film and play programs, 1990-1996
2 Film and play programs, 1997-1999
3 Event flyers, 1970s-1980s
4 Film and play programs A-D, 1970s-1990s
5 Film and play programs E-H, 1970s-1990s
6 Film and play programs I-L, 1970s-1990s
Box Folder
13 1 Film and play programs, M-P 1970s-1990s undated
2 Film and play programs, R-T 1970s-1990s undated
3 Film and play programs, V-Z 1970s-1990s undated
4 1980 Gala materials, 1980
5 Mailers, flyers, tickets, and clippings, 1970-2000
6 Anniversary Gala programs, 1980s-1990s
Box Folder
14 1 Anniversary Gala programs, 1999-2002
5 Programs, 2000-2006
6 Programs, 2007-2015