On the Road: Restored Paramount Theater revives the arts in Farmville

FARMVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The town of Farmville has been around since the 1700’s. It’s no surprise then that the Farmville Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Included is the Paramount Theater, which traces its roots back to the 1920’s as a movie house.

”You got in for a nickel. Needless to say you can’t do that anymore” says Lila Garris, the director of the Farmville Community Arts Council.

The Paramount survived as a movie theater until 1978. Then in 1980, the building was given to the newly organized Farmville Community Arts Council. It would take over ten years and a lot of hard work to restore the building to its former glory.

Garris explains the process: ”It was a rat’s nest. It was done in phases by getting grants from various places, and lots of volunteer work. They did it in like four or five phases.”

The theater finally reopened in 1994 with 211 seats and a new purpose.

The Paramount Theater has a long and rich history. That continues even today as the arts are still very much alive here in Farmville.

”We have three to four shows a year and then we have seven to nine art exhibits that are up for a month for the public to come in and see for free” says Garris.

The shows wouldn’t go on without dedicated volunteers like Chip Galusha.

”The one demand on community theater is that people have to come together. You have to work with other people. You take time and you meet at the same time and you have a goal and you achieve that and it really is a way to be community” says Galusha.

And that sense of community is one of the things that keeps him coming back for more.

Galusha continues: ”It always is fun. And it’s everybody’s doing a thing that they want to do. Nobody’s here simply because this is what they’re paid to do.”

The hope is that the mighty Paramount can help inspire the next generation of artists, actors, and playwrights from Farmville.

”We need to keep the arts alive, and we hope this is one way we can do that” says Garris.

 

For more information on the Farmville Community Arts Council, click here.

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