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Storied Brooklyn Paramount theater reopens as concert venue after years-long renovation

A view of the Music Hall inside the Brooklyn Paramount theater (Evan Joseph/Live Nation)
Evan Joseph/Live Nation
A view of the Music Hall inside the Brooklyn Paramount theater (Evan Joseph/Live Nation)
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The historic theater — which hosted legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra before becoming a — reopened as a music hall on Wednesday following a years-long renovation.

Entertainment giant Live Nation has revamped the space to hold 2,700 concertgoers. It includes much of the ornate original Baroque detailing, plus a new sloped floor, seven bars and a VIP lounge. The Paramount will have more than 250 employees, mostly part-time.

Photo of Marquees Venues, 1956, New York, Flatbush and DeKalb, Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Photo of Marquees Venues, 1956, New York, Flatbush and DeKalb, Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“I used to go to Brooklyn Tech, so walking by here I had no idea that all of this history was here,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It’s so awesome to see it restored.”

Williams joked he would try to make it back in time for Wednesday night’s inaugural performance by Damian and Stephen Marley.

The downtown Brooklyn venue has a : opened by Paramount Pictures in 1928 as the first movie theater built expressly for talking pictures, it was once the borough’s largest cinema in the heart of a bustling entertainment district.

New Paramount Theatre, Brooklyn, New York, New York, 1929. (Photo by Irving Browning/The New York Historical Society/Getty Images)
New Paramount Theatre, Brooklyn, New York, New York, 1929. (Photo by Irving Browning/The New York Historical Society/Getty Images)

The Paramount has been credited as the place where jazz and rock ‘n’ roll were first introduced to Brooklyn.

Over the years it was graced by big names such as Buddy Holly, Duke Ellington, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Chubby Checker, Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman. The new VIP lounge is dubbed “Ella’s” in honor of Ella Fitzgerald, whose picture is plastered throughout the room.

A view of Ella's Lounge inside the Brooklyn Paramount theater (Evan Joseph/Live Nation)
A view of Ella’s Lounge inside the Brooklyn Paramount theater (Evan Joseph/Live Nation)

Long Island University purchased the Paramount in 1960 and subsequently turned it into the home of its basketball team, which played there until 2005. LIU still acts as the Paramount’s landlord, according to Live Nation.

The theater’s comeback was first under the auspices of then-Brooklyn Nets owners Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov. The project was several times and ultimately .

A view of the Grand Hall inside the Brooklyn Paramount theater (Evan Joseph/Live Nation)
A view of the Grand Hall inside the Brooklyn Paramount theater (Evan Joseph/Live Nation)

The Brooklyn Paramount has over 45 lined up through October, including Sting, Norah Jones, Belle and Sebastian, Sum 41 and PinkPantheress. Brooklyn native Busta Rhymes was in April, but the event has since been .

“We wanted to make sure that we had a space that could cater to every genre of music and every fan of music,” said Stacie George, senior vice president at Live Nation Northeast. “So when we found this space, it was centrally located, it was perfect for us. And when we walked in, we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s so much history here.'”

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