The mysterious vanishing of the Paramount Theatre’s 1930s-era sign

The Paramount Theatre sign we know and love is a recreation of a 1930s era sign that mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s.

The Paramount Theater sign, as seen from the street below.

The Paramount Theatre’s sign is less than one decade old, but is modeled after a sign that mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s.

Photo by ATXtoday

When the Downtown Paramount Theatre was completed, Charlie Chaplin was leading the box offices, Gov. James Edward Ferguson had just come into office, and Austin’s population was 32,000 people.

Boy, how things have changed. But today, the Paramount is still alive and well, with a stacked lineup of comedy sets, screenings, and concerts.

There’s more history than we could share in one sitting about this theater, but today we’re telling you a mystery story surrounding the theater’s most iconic visual element: its sign.


When the Paramount Theatre was first constructed, it was known as the Majestic Theatre.

Photo via University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, Texas Historical Commission.


The Paramount Theatre — then called the Majestic Theatre — was completed in 1915 at a cost of $150,000. The building was designed by renowned architect John Eberson, who built more than 1,200 theaters in his lifetime — today, the Paramount is one of fewer than 25 that remain.

The Paramount Theatre we know and love came to be in the 1930s, when the theater was remodeled to have an art deco look, a sound system, air conditioning, and most notably, the iconic blade sign out front.

The sign hung proudly until the 1960s, when it was removed to be repaired. Somewhere along the way, it vanished.

To this day, it’s possible no one knows where the sign is. Some people allege it’s in a field outside San Antonio or laying in a Fort Worth junkyard. Another rumor claims Seattle’s Paramount Theatre poached it for its own.

The Paramount Sign, slowly lighting up one letter at a time.

Signmakers were able to recreate the sign’s animation using a video of Lyndon B. Johnson parading down Congress Avenue.

Gif by ATXtoday

The sign today

The Paramount’s current sign is less than a decade old, but based entirely on photos and video of the 1930s-era sign.

It’s 47 ft high and lit with 1,386 LED lamps. The animation of the lights — which light up one letter at a time spelling “Paramount” — was deduced when signmakers found an original video of Lyndon B. Johnson parading down Congress Avenue in 1962.

The sign was hung and lit again to honor the theater’s 100th anniversary in 2015.

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