One of the last of the great picture palaces, the Paradise was one of five lavishly appointed “Wonder” theaters. Instead of the customary Beaux Arts opera-house style, John Eberson designed the Paradise to be a mashup of exotic environments evoking foreign lands. The 4,000-seat auditorium had elaborate plasterwork evoking the courtyard of an Italian palazzo, complete with a painted blue ceiling and light-bulb stars.
Over the years, the Paradise was unable to compete with TV and other entertainment, finally closing in 1994. Community leaders petitioned the LPC, but succeeded in gaining landmark status for the exterior only, believing that the interior was too altered. A 1996 fire left a planned restoration incomplete. The building finally reopened as an entertainment venue in 2005 after a new owner, working with EverGreene Architectural Arts, restored the interior. The LPC promptly designated it, calling it “one of the most amazing spaces in New York City.” In 2012, the interior was reincarnated once again, this time as a church and meeting facility.
Photographs by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved