Interior of Loew’s Paradise Theater landmarked

Landmarks approved designation for 1929 Art Deco “wonder theater.” The interior of Loew’s Paradise Theater, at 2405-2419 Grand Concourse in the Fordham area of the Bronx, was designated by Landmarks on May 16, 2006. The 1929 theater was designed by architect John Eberson, the inventor of what were called “wonder theaters” that featured artificial trees and birds and a machine that simulated clouds shifting on the ceiling. One of five such theaters built by Loew’s, the Paradise was meant to evoke the feeling of being outdoors in the courtyard of a Renaissance Italian palace. The wood paneled lobby contained ornate gilt ironwork and painted murals, while the auditorium itself featured extensive plaster statuary, chandeliers and marble pillars. The auditorium could accommodate an audience of up to 4,000. In addition to movies, live acts like Bob Hope and the Metropolitan Opera graced its stage.

The Paradise was converted into a multiplex in 1973, before closing its doors in 1994. The building’s exterior was landmarked in 1997, but fire damaged the interior in the late 1990s. At one point the owners proposed converting the building into a shopping center, an alteration that would have entailed covering the plaster details with sheetrock. In 2003, a new owner acquired the Paradise and reversed many of the alterations, restoring much of the original luster. The Paradise was reopened as an entertainment venue in 2005.

At the April 18 hearing, Glen Leiner of the Art Deco Society called the building an “iconic Bronx treasure,” and encouraged swift designation. Landmarks Chair Robert B. Tierney called the theater’s interior “one of the most amazing spaces in New York City.” Landmarks voted unanimously to approve.

LPC: Loew’s Paradise Theater Interior, 2405-2419 Grand Concourse (LP-2193) (May 16, 2006).

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