Local News

Destroyed Theater Prepares for Encore

Posted May 3, 2007 6:20 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2007 7:01 p.m. EDT

— More than two years after fire destroyed a historic downtown theater, crews are beginning the rebuilding process.

Fire ravaged the 124-year-old Paramount Theater in February 2005. Although crews rushed to salvage what they could from the building, city leaders said it would be too expensive to replace the theater.

But with help from local business leaders and community support, the city is preparing the theater for a curtain call.

"It's very encouraging to everyone in town," said Mark Webb, president of Goldsboro's downtown development organization.

The estimated cost for the new theater is $5 million. The city plans to pay for the majority, and several private fundraisers have already brought in about $300,000.

Aside from leaving a large hole in a prominent section of downtown, losing the theater took a toll on nearby businesses, Webb said.

"It brings thousands of people into downtown Goldsboro. It supports the restaurants and shops that are around us," he said.

A restaurant across the street from the Paramount struggled with a significant drop in customers after the fire and eventually closed. A new restaurant has opened in its place.

The managers of the new eatery said business is slow, but they said they are hopeful the new theater will help.

"Our business will be better, and we will be happy with it. We are waiting for it, yeah," restaurant manager Somchit Chatipong said.

Crews recently broke ground on a new foundation and are getting new steel beams in place. Supporters had hoped to save the Paramount's historic facade, but it was too damaged. So, contractors plan to build a replica before the new theater opens in January.

"It makes you feel good about the city. At least we're making progress, we're doing something," local resident Glenwood Burden said.