Apr. 8—ANDERSON — Although the historic Paramount Theatre has been closed for most of the past year, there has been much activity occurring.
Many of the events planned for 2020 and early this year were canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But under the guidance of contractor James Abraham, who oversaw the restoration work in the 1990s, patrons will notice some changes in the future.
The theater was built in 1929 and was reopened in 1995 after the initial restoration work was done.
"I'm very much impressed with how well it has been maintained," he said of the theater. "People have cared for it and loved it."
Records indicate that since the theater reopened, about 900,000 people have visited the facility since 1993.
"There is just natural wear and tear," Abraham said. "I found no abuse. We're touching up a lot of things. It's holding up very well."
Abraham stressed all of the materials and workmanship have been paid for through donations.
A year ago $50,000 was spent on upgrades to the ballroom and staircase; now close to $50,000 is going to the second round of repair work.
One of the more noticeable changes will be a new control booth at the back of the theater.
"There were three 8-foot tables here, stacked full of equipment," he said. "There were wires going everywhere and it didn't look professional at all.
"We started talking about it and I had built a booth at the Lucas Theater in Savannah," Abraham said. "We gave up a little seating to have room."
The decision was made to remove a row of seats, leveled the floor and have work tops built on the booth.
"The work tops can be removed if a traveling show brings their own equipment," Abraham said. "It's all wired and loaded and ready to put it back together."
The new booth was an estimated $4,500 project.
The other work being done behind the scenes is repairing water damage where the pipes for the Page organ are housed.
Abraham said a roof leak several years ago is causing the paint to peel.
He explained the dust and paint chips are blocking the air flow to the organ pipes.
"They wouldn't work because they were full of dirt and dust," Abraham said. "We took each pipe out, cleaned them and will do that again before putting them back."
Abraham said the pipes in both chambers are being removed, the water damage repaired, the pipes cleaned and replaced. The Page organ will be tuned.
Abraham said visitors to the Paramount Theatre would not have realized that three of the pipes were not providing any sound because of the blockage.
Additional work includes painting the floor of the theater and replacing all the light bulbs in the atmospheric ceiling with LED lighting.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.