The Paramount Theatre in Aurora, Illinois was originally built in 1931, and offered movies, concerts, circus performances all inside the first air conditioned building outside of Chicago. Acoustics and sight lines had been so well designed that there was not one bad seat in the house. The luxurious theatre gave its patrons a brief respite from the troubles of the Great Depression.
After 40 years of serving Aurora and the surrounding communities, age began to take its toll. Dirt and grime covered the walls, and beautiful murals, upholstery and curtains had become tattered and torn. In 1965, the Aurora Civic Center Authority and the Aurora Redevelopment Commission (ACCA/ARC) were established, heralding the beginning of downtown redevelopment in Aurora.
The eight hand-painted murals were in such poor shape that they had to be replaced. Each mural was traced and repainted on flame retardant, silk-like fabric and returned to its original position. The warm burgundy, coral, and peach colors of the panels were used as the primary color scheme for the renovations, including the reupholstered original seats. Old veneer and wallpaper were removed and replaced; broken plaster areas were repaired and repainted. The fluted columns that separate the murals were made from plaster, as were most of the surfaces under the decorative work, and were originally clad in German gold leaf. This covering, too expensive to duplicate, was replaced with foil that approximated the original look.
This renovation was a historically significant for R.C. Wegman Construction. Since the renovation completion, it is the “jewel” of the performing arts in the western suburbs, and named one of the Top Ten Theaters in Chicago.