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Paramount Building (Paramount Theater)

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1932, W. Scott Dunne, with Rittenberry and Carder. 817 S. Polk St.

By 1930, the Gothic Revival styling of the Santa Fe Building (AO16) diagonally opposite had become old-fashioned and was being supplanted by Art Deco, a new mode influenced by buildings at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderne of 1925 in Paris. Although the United States did not exhibit at this exposition, the abstracted decorative style of architecture at the Expo was rapidly appropriated for commercial buildings in America. Concurrently, a first-run movie palace had become an essential element of American downtowns. Dunne, a Dallas-based theater architect, clad the theater in cream-colored, glazed terra-cotta, serrated piers, fluted spandrels, and friezes of zigzag patterning, picked out with patches of green and orange. The Paramount epitomizes the new decorative repertoire. Closed in 1975, the building was gutted and converted to office space. The original marquee is gone, but the large blade-shaped sign, with its red and yellow coloration, was found and reinstalled in 2006. The Amarillo Historical Preservation Foundation owns and maintains the sign. Elaborate storefront facades of commercial space wrap the corners of the building and extend along 9th Avenue.

Although not as exuberant as the Paramount, the brick and terra-cotta facades of the former Levine’s Department Store (1936, E. F. Rittenberry) at 800 S. Polk dominate both sides of its corner location, with brickwork patterns and a shallow but clear modernism and lack of historicizing detail. It follows the example of the S. H. Kress and Co. building (1931; Edward F. Sibbert) a block north at 700 S. Polk.

The former Greyhound Lines Bus Station (1946; 814 S. Taylor Street), no longer used as a bus station, is missing its characteristic curved canopy and vertical blue sign, but it retains the essential dynamics of Streamline Moderne.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Paramount Building (Paramount Theater)", [Amarillo, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 340-341.

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