The Paramount Theater Project

Published on 2009-05-01 by in News, Saint John

I discovered a group on Facebook, started by Michael McDonald, which is focused on saving the Paramount Theatre on King’s Square.

Since then he has been receiving a lot of media attention – and it has people talking – talking about what to do with the theatre.

Currently (and for a long time now), the theatre has been closed and boarded up. Located in such a prime location in uptown Saint John, it could be restored for many possible uses.

I agree with Mr. McDonald that it’s time to make something out of the building!

Below is the article from today’s Telegraph-Journal:

SAINT JOHN – A campaign that started only eight days ago on the social networking site Facebook to find a new life for the shuttered Paramount Theatre on King’s Square now has more than 2,600 members.

Michael McDonald has started a Facebook group in hopes of drumming up interest to save the old Paramount Theatre.

“It was crazy, it was just like a viral, I had no idea,” said Michael McDonald, a local member of the film and music communities who started the page.

Many of the responses are people sharing their memories of some event at the theatre.

“There is a huge emotional connection to the building, everybody has a story about the building and pretty much all of them are in agreement that it could function as a multi-faceted arts centre,” he said.

McDonald believes Saint John is big enough for more than one arts venue.

“I think there is a place for the Paramount,” he said.

The Imperial Theatre on the other side of the square is pretty well booked most of the time, so the Paramount could host other events coming to town looking for a smaller space, he said. It could also be home to a film society and perhaps show independent films, like the Oxford Theatre in Halifax.

It can’t come back exclusively as a movie theatre because that’s what it was when it closed, he said.

“It has to be multi-functioning,” he said. “It has to pay for itself.”

For a city like Saint John, which is so proud of its heritage, it would be a shame to lose the theater with its great art deco interior, he said.

The next step is to put together a committee to take it to the next level, find out if the owner is willing to sell and move on to a fundraising campaign, McDonald said.

“If 2,000 people are interested in saving this building then that’s a strong indication that it should be saved,” he said.

Last week it all started with this posting. “The Kings Square Cinema (the old Paramount) is dying a slow death. I walk by it every day and it breaks my heart that such a grand old building is being left to rot. The same thing happened to the Odeon Theater across the square. The Odeon was the oldest cinema in Canada. It is now a parking lot. Parking lots make lots of money but if we care about culture in this city we can find a more creative way to make the space viable. We need you, the people to start a ground swell. That’s what this page is for.”

I say well done to Michael McDonald for stepping up and working to make this city a better place!

11 Comments  comments 
  • Aaron

    Thx for linking the actual group. Between The Telegraph Journal’s lack of group title or link, and Facebook’s lack of Google search, I couldn’t find it. :o)

  • jan johnston

    hi its jan here, lets save the paramount, sorry to see the mirror fascade smashed by uncaring souls, lets get it back to its heyday, showing movies, etc. i’m with you. regards

  • Darlene Cosman

    Ditto, ditto, ditto. Yes, Saint John is deserving of another theatre venue. Deserving and in need of one that is a little more affordable. The Imperial is the Queen of Venues, but another site will further enhance the Port City and its many attributes. Bravo Michael McDonald. Let’s do it!!

  • K

    Though the theatre didn’t seem to be in the best of shape when I first moved here, I loved having a theatre I could walk to. It also played smaller movies that the larger theatre didn’t bother screening. I saw my first Miyazaki film on that screen.

  • Michael McDonald

    I just wanted to say thanks for posting the article and for the positive input.Its a project that will be difficult to pull off but I feel it can be done.The people want to see it ,so it shall be.Right now I am waiting on an engineers study on the building.That will take place on the first week of June.Just in case anyone was thinking that the project is slowing ,its not, its just inching forward. Keep spreading the word.
    Michael McDonald

  • Nancy


    I am definitely interested in helping. I am not on facebook. Can you provide your e-mail and we can discuss


  • Brett Lieberman

    My Family, had a chain of Theaters in Saint john, not sure if this was one of them or if the Garson Family had it one time in the 1950s? I am searching about some of them now… so if anyone has details let me know..

    my Grandparents had the B & L Theater Chain 1930 onwards. .. I know there were others as well.

    keep me posted as to the ongoing efforts of mr MaCDonald, sounds like a good project to me, dont let all the theaters go to the Waste side or to Empire Movie Co…

    Brett Lieberman ec Saint Johnner! living in Vancouver.

    • dwight

      Do you have any of the old film posters from those theatres?

  • Ron

    Wonder if this is the same Michael McDonald I saw on Land and Sea, a few minutes of Indian Town.

  • Mary

    I’ll be back from Vancouver. Please open for films!!! We need a vital uptown in the city. Rothesay quispam must joint in for that vitality.

  • dwight

    Anybody know of any movie posters in that area?