The Paramount Theatre Centre & Ballroom in downtown Anderson is a prime example of what can be accomplished when a community values its history, appreciates architecture and seeks to draw people to its downtown for performance arts and other events.
Back in 1995, when the wrecking ball threatened the Paramount, local citizens banded together to save the lovely atmospheric theater designed by famed movie theater architect John Eberson.
A group of leaders emerged to organize the effort, make contributions and gather other donations to buy, refurbish and operate the Paramount, which will be 85 years old this August. They also established the Paramount Heritage Foundation to grow resources to sustain the Paramount.
In all, an estimated $3.7 million was raised for the theater facility.
The leaders who saved the Paramount felt a personal connection to it. Local businessman Bill Hardacre had gone to watch films there as a kid. His wife, Ann, had danced at the Paramount.
Many years later, they poured their time and commitment, their passion, into saving the Paramount for future generations of Andersonians — and visitors — to enjoy. The Hardacre Ballroom now bears their surname in honor of their contributions.
Bill Hardacre passed away last month at the age of 82. Though age had taken its toll on his body, he retained his lively sense of humor, his bright outlook and his commitment to making Anderson a wonderful place to live.
Now, the community has an opportunity to take up Hardacre’s dream, the one he and others worked so hard to realize — that the Paramount Theatre continue to thrive for decades to come.
The facility has substantial debt, about $800,000, remaining. While that’s down from about $1.5 million five years ago, it’s still a heavy load to bear.
If the Paramount’s debt could be completely eliminated, or even paid down by $100,000, it would put the facility in a position to better sustain itself through revenue from the various events it hosts, including orchestra performances, band concerts, comedians, plays, movies, dance competitions and the Festival of Trees.