The Plaza Theatre, home of Paris Community Theatre, has been standing on the northeast corner of the square in Paris, Texas for nearly a century. On the evening of July 30, 1926 the City of Paris celebrated the gala opening of the “newly built and completely modern Plaza Theatre, which was the last word in a picture show house.” The rounded arches, tiled roof, wrought iron railings, ornate foyer and the elaborate grill that concealed the pipes of the organ in the orchestra pit reflected the influence of Spanish-Moorish architecture that was so popular in the 20’s. The interior decor in shades of tan and ivory accented by antique gold and a handsome rose colored stage curtain bespoke the quiet elegance of the age.
The comfort of the audience was enhanced by the staggered arrangement of the upholstered and air cushioned seats, the sound proof rubber filed aisles, the gas-steam radiators and the “Blizzard Cooling System” which featured two 36 inch exhaust fans that guaranteed a complete exchange of air every 30 seconds.
At 5:00 p.m. on opening day, Mr. Claude Musselman, who was known as “Mr. Picture Show of Paris” hosted a reception for visiting theatre notables on the lot south of the Municipal Building. Citizens and guests were welcomed by Mayor T. F. Justiss and entertained by the Music of the Paris Band. Following a banquet at the Gibraltar House, the celebrities entered a packed house for the 8:00 P.M. formal opening. Each seat was reserved for one dollar and a half. Guests enjoyed a musical stage show and the sophisticated photoplay, The Grand Duchess and the Waiter starring Adolph Menjou and Florence Vidor.
Regular theatre prices at the Plaza were $.35 for adults and $.10 for children. Ocasionally a child could attend for $.09 leaving $.01 to be spent at the concession stand.
The opening of the Plaza in 1926 caused a surge of civic pride that has seldom been equalled. The entire citizenry loved attending their new movie house. Starting on that first opening night in 1926, the unique flashing PLAZA sign with its four hundred “chasewr” lights lit up the square inviting all Paris to come on in to enjoy the show. Now that same magical sign flashes to invite everyone to THE PARIS COMMUNITY THEATRE at the Plaza on the Square.