It’s quite possibly the fanciest basketball court we’ve ever seen. The ceiling of Long Island University’s Brooklyn’s Athletic Center reveals its beginnings as the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. The sky blue and white latticed ceiling and the arches along the side walls, decorated with artificial foliage, still remain at the top of what is now the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center, which was the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre in the mid 1900s.
The theater opened on November 23rd, 1928, and became one of the most well-known entertainment venues by hosting live and on-screen entertainment featuring prominent performers of the time. The venue was also a popular hub for jazz and featured musicians such as Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington.
The 1928 Wurlitzer pipe organ served as a second charm of this venue, and the instrument, maintained by the Theatre Organ Society of New York, is still in the building. Organists played this to provide background music for silent films and interludes for transitions in between shows.
The Brooklyn Paramount Theatre closed on August 21, 1962, and after LIU bought the theatre, workmen converted that into a basketball court for LIU’s athletic teams. The court opened in November 1963, and a second renovation of the court occurred in 1975, when local Brooklyn-based businesses offered funding to LIU.
This revamping led the athletic complex to hold not only basketball games, but also academic events like conferences and lectures. Even though the exterior and much of the former theatre’s interior is gone, its ceilings stand as a reminder of how the Athletic Center was one of New York City’s most popular entertainment hubs.
Check out more of New York City’s glorious theaters in the photography of Matt Lambros of After the Final Curtain.