Schwartz Athletic Center - Long Island University - Brooklyn, NY (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
   
  Paramount Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (Postcard, 1933)
  Click on images to enlarge
   
Long Island University – Brooklyn Campus

Schwartz Athletic Center
(originally the Paramount Theatre)

385 Flatbush Avenue Extension at DeKalb Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
http://www.brooklyn.liu.edu




The Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center of Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus was originally built in 1928 as the Brooklyn Paramount Building. Located on the northeast corner of Flatbush Avenue Extension and DeKalb Avenue, the area was in Brooklyn's once-thriving theatre district. With the opening of the Paramount, there were an estimated 25,000 seats within a few blocks.

As designed by noted theatre architects Rapp & Rapp of Chicago, the buff-colored brick Brooklyn Paramount building combined an eleven-story office tower at the corner with a large auditorium adjacent to the east. On the roof over the offices were two enormous "PARAMOUNT THEATRE" signs, and on the sides above the wraparound marquee were two very large vertical signs. Patrons entered through a low-ceilinged lobby in the office tower that led into the Grand Foyer — a giant, mirrored rectangular space 147 feet long and 42 feet high — that in turn led to the auditorium and various lounges. The rococo-style auditorium had 4,124 seats upholstered in varying shades of burgundy, a great latticed ceiling (painted sky-blue with clouds), and arches along the side walls that were originally festooned with artificial foliage. Golden staircases extended from the organ grilles to the stage for entrances by chorus girls and stars alike. Throughout the auditorium were hidden fixtures of the Wilfred Color Organ, an elaborate lighting system that allowed the auditorium to be illuminated according to the mood of the moment. The 60-foot stage curtains were decorated with satin embroidered pheasants and in the lobby were huge chandeliers and fountains with goldfish. It was reported that Paramount Publix spent nearly $3 million for sculpture, paintings, tapestries, and other items. Advertised as "Paramount-Publix's Gift to Brooklyn," the Brooklyn Paramount had its grand opening on November 24, 1928. On the program were "Manhattan Cocktail," a Paramount film starring Nancy Carroll, and "Stars," a spectacular stage revue produced by the legendary John Murray Anderson. The Brooklyn Paramount was the first theatre designed for talking pictures, or movies with sound. In addition to motion pictures, the Paramount also offered great vaudeville performers, and later, major stars such as Bing Crosby and Ethel Merman.

During the Depression years, movie theatres struggled financially, and the Paramount was no exception. In 1935, the Paramount Building was sold to Simon Fabian, who had been leasing the property. The New York Times noted in 1936 that the Paramount had lost $1.5 million since its opening.

Brooklyn Paramount Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Theatre Historical Society)  
   
Long Island University Schwartz Athletic Center (photo: Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre)  
In 1950, the Paramount building was sold to Long Island University, which gradually converted the upper floors into college administrative offices, but the auditorium continued to function as a theatre venue for another decade. It was during the 1950s that the Paramount created a sensation with Alan Freed’s famous Rock ‘n’ Roll show with Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and others musical stars. The Paramount was also a center for jazz in New York. Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis are just some of the legends that performed on the stage.

After the Paramount closed for the last time in August 21, 1962, the auditorium was converted into a basketball court for LIU's Blackbirds teams, opening on November 30, 1963. A second renovation and expansion of the gymnasium took place in the summer of 1975. The building is now called the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center. In January 2006, the Blackbirds moved to the 17,000-seat arena in the $40 million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center, and the Schwartz basketball court is now used as a 1200-seat multi-purpose arena.

In recent years, the gymnasium has been elegantly decorated and cosmetically revived for dinners to raise funds for scholarships. Much of the theatre’s decor is intact in its legendary auditorium and magnificent lobby.
             
  Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1984 (1928) in LIU Schwartz Athletic Center - Brooklyn, NY (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
   
  Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1984 (1928) in LIU Schwartz Athletic Center - Brooklyn, NY
   
  Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1984 (1928) in LIU Schwartz Athletic Center - Brooklyn, NY (photo: Steven E. Lawson)
Wurlitzer Organ Company
North Tonawanda, N.Y. – Opus 1984 (1928)
Electro-pneumatic action
Style Publix 4
4 manuals, 26 ranks, 8 tuned percussion, 9 traps
4-manual main console, 4-manual slave console





The organ in the Schwartz Athletic Center was built in 1928 by the Wurlitzer Organ Company for the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre. Known by Wurlitzer as a "Publix 4" style, its specification of four manuals and 26 ranks was designed to produce the same tonal effect as the 4/36 Wurlitzer in the Times Square Paramount, but at lower cost. The Brooklyn Paramount organ was the first of only two "Publix 4" instruments built, the other going to the Metropolitan ("Met") Theatre, Boston (1930, Op. 2101). While the Boston Met's organ was broken up for parts in the 1970s, the Brooklyn Paramount organ remains unaltered and is still operational.

A total of 257 stops control more than 2,000 pipes to imitate a variety of sounds — a brass band, percussion instruments, piano, train whistles, bird calls, horse hoofs, etc. — enabling the organist to accompany a movie and provide popular music between features. The pipes and percussions are located in four chambers, two each flanking the proscenium. As originally installed, the organ had one console, located on its own lift on the left end of the orchestra pit and extant today. At some point, a second, nearly identical "slave" console was installed on the right side of the pit; it could also be moved on-stage when desired. The slave console was later moved to DeKalb, Illinois.

Since the more than 4,000 plush theatre seats and carpeting were removed and replaced by bleachers and a hardwood gym floor, the auditorium has gained a very reverberant acoustic. As a result, the Wurlitzer organ is now heard with an incomparable "mighty" sound in this unique environment. For many years the organ has been maintained by a crew of the New York Theatre Organ Society.

Click here to hear a mid-1970s recording of Billy Nalle (1921-2005) playing Jerome Kern's "Who?" on the Brooklyn Paramount organ.
             
Pedal – 32 notes
16
  Bombarde  
8
  Gamba
16
  Tuba Profunda  
8
  Cello
16
  Double English Horn  
8
  Flute
16
  Diaphone  
4
  Flute
16
  Bass  
16
  Piano
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)       Bass Drum
16
  Violone       Kettle Drum
16
  Bourdon       Snare Drum
8
  Tuba Mirabilis       Crash Cymbal
8
  Tuba Horn       Cymbal
8
  English Horn       Accomp. to Pedal 
8
  Octave       Great to Pedal
8
  Horn Diapason       Solo to Pedal
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)        
8
  Clarinet   Pedal Pizzicato
8
  Saxophone  
16
  Bombarde
8
  Solo Strings        
              
Accompaniment (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
2
  Piccolo (O)
8
  Tuba Horn  
8
  Piano
8
  English Horn       Marimba (re-it)
8
  Diaphonic Diapason       Harp
8
  Horn Diapason       Chrysoglott
8
  Tibia Clausa (F)       Vibraphone
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)       Chrysoglott Damper
8
  Clarinet       Snare Drum
8
  Saxophone       Tamborine
8
  Solo String I       Castanet
8
  Solo String II       Chinese Block
8
  Gamba       Tom Tom
8
  Gamba Celeste       Sand Block
8
  Viol d'Orchestre       Octave 
8
  Viol Celeste       Solo to Accomp.
8
  Krumet       Great Octave to Accomp.
8
  Oboe Horn        
8
  Quintadena   Accompaniment 2nd Touch
8
  Flute  
8
  Tuba Mirabilis 
8
  Vox Humana (M)  
8
  Tuba Horn
8
  Vox Humana (S)  
8
  Diaphonic Diapason
8
  Dulciana  
8
  Tibia Clausa
4
  Gambette  
8
  Tibia Clausa
4
  Gambette Celeste  
8
  Saxophone
4
  Viol  
8
  Strings II
4
  Octave Celeste  
4
  Piccolos II
4
  Piccolo (F)       Xylophone (re-it)
4
  Piccolo (S)       Glockenspiel
4
  Flute       Cathedral Chimes
4
  Vox Humana (M)       Triangle
4
  Vox Humana (S)       Solo to Accomp.
2 2/3
  Twelfth       Solo to Accomp. – Pizzicato
             
Great (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Bombarde  
4
  Viol
16
  Tuba Profunda  
4
  Octave Celeste
16
  Diaphone  
4
  Flute
16
  Bass  
4
  Vox Humana (M)
16
  Tibia Clausa (TC) (F)  
4
  Vox Humana (S)
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)  
2 2/3
  Twelfth (Tibia) (F)
16
  Clarinet (TC)  
2 2/3
  Twelfth (Tibia) (S)
16
  Saxophone (TC)  
2 2/3
  Twelfth (M)
16
  Solo Strings II (TC)  
2
  Piccolo (Tibia) (F)
16
  Violone  
2
  Piccolo (Tibia) (S)
16
  Vox Humana (TC)  
2
  Fifteenth (M)
16
  Vox Humana (TC)  
2
  Piccolo (M)
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
1 3/5
  Tierce
8
  Trumpet  
16
  Piano
8
  Tuba Horn  
8
  Piano
8
  Diaphonic Diapason  
4
  Piano
8
  Open Diapason       Marimba (re-it)
8
  Horn Diapason       Harp
8
  Tibia Clausa (F)       Orchestra Bells (re-it)
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)       Sleigh Bells
8
  Orchestral Oboe       Master Xylophone
8
  Kinura       Xylophone
8
  Clarinet       Glockenspiel
8
  Saxophone       Chrysoglott 
8
  Solo String I       Cathedral Chimes
8
  Solo String II       Sub Octave
8
  Gamba       Solo Sub Octave to Great
8
  Gamba Celeste       Solo to Great
8
  Viol d'Orchestre        
8
  Viol Celeste   Great 2nd Touch
8
  Krumet  
16
  Bombarde
8
  Flute  
16
  Tuba Profunda 
8
  Vox Humana (M)  
16
  Double English Horn 
8
  Vox Humana (S)  
16
  Tibia Clausa (TC)
4
  Piccolo (F)  
8
  Tibia Clausa
4
  Piccolo (S)       Solo to Great
4
  Gambette       Solo to Great – Pizzicato
4
  Gambette Celeste        
             
Bombarde (Manual III) – 61 notes
16
  Bombarde  
8
  Flute
16
  Tuba Profunda  
4
  Clarion Mirabilis (S)
16
  Double English Horn  
4
  Clarion (M)
16
  Diaphone  
4
  Piccolo (F)
16
  Tibia Clausa (TC) (F)  
4
  Piccolo (S)
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)       Master Xylophone
8
  Trumpet       Glockenspiel
8
  Tuba Mirabilis       Snare Drum
8
  Tuba Horn       Great to Bombarde
8
  English Horn       Solo Sub Octave to Bombarde
8
  Diaphonic Diapason       Solo to Bombarde
8
  Open Diapason        
8
  Tibia Clausa (F)   Bombarde 2nd Touch
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)  
16
  Bombarde
8
  Solo String I  
16
  Tuba Profunda
8
  Solo String II  
16
  Double English Horn
8
  Gamba  
8
  Tuba Horn
8
  Gamba Celeste  
8
  Tibia Clausa (F)
8
  Viol d'Orchestre        
8
  Viol Celeste    
             
Solo (Manual IV) – 61 notes
16
  Bombarde  
8
  Gamba
16
  Tibia Clausa (TC) (F)  
8
  Gamba Celeste
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)  
8
  Krumet
16
  Saxophone (TC)  
8
  Oboe Horn
16
  Violone  
8
  Quintadena
8
  Trumpet  
8
  Vox Humana (M)
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
8
  Vox Humana (S)
8
  Tuba Horn  
4
  Piccolo (F)
8
  English Horn  
4
  Piccolo (S)
8
  Diaphonic Diapason  
4
  Gambette
8
  Open Diapason  
2
  Gambette Celeste
8
  Tibia Clausa (F)  
2
  Piccolo (Tibia) (F)
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)  
2
  Piccolo (Tibia) (S)
8
  Orchestral Oboe  
8
  Piano
8
  Kinura       Marimba
8
  Clarinet       Master Xylophone 
8
  Saxophone       Glockenspiel
8
  Solo String I       Orchestral Bells (re-it)
8
  Solo String II       Chrysoglott
            Cathedral Chimes
             
Adjustable Combination Pistons
   
Pedal PP–P–MF–F–FF–1–2–3–4–5  
Accompaniment PP–P–MF–F–FF–1–2–3–4–5  
Great PP–P–MF–F–FF–1–2–3–4–5 Great 2nd Touch adds Pedal Stops
Bombarde PP–P–MF–F–FF–1–2–3–4–5  
Solo PP–P–MF–F–FF–1–2–3–4–5  
             
Tremulants
    Main       Tibia Clausa (F)
    Tuba (M)       Tuba Mirabilis (S)
    Vox Humana (M)       Vox Humana (S)
    Orchestral       Foundation
    Solo       Tibia Clausa (S)
             
General
    Balanced Pedal – Orchestral   Five Shutter Couplers:
    Balanced Pedal – Solo       (ORCH  SOLO  FOUN  MAIN  GEN)
    Balanced Pedal – Foundation   Thunder Pedal (Diaphone)
    Balanced Pedal – Main   Thunder Pedal (Reed)
    Balanced Pedal – General   1st & 2nd Touch Traps Switch
    Balanced Pedal – Crescendo    
             
Push Buttons
   
Auto Horn Horse Hoofs Bird
Fire Gong Machine Gun Door Bell
Steamboat Whistle    
             
STOP & CHAMBER ANALYSIS
FOUNDATION CHAMBER
(Left Side, Top – 15" pressure)
16
  Diaphonic Diapason
73 pipes
8
  Tibia Clausa
85 pipes
16
  Gamba
85 pipes
8
  Gamba Celeste
73 pipes

MAIN CHAMBER
(Left Side, Bottom – 10" press. unless noted)
16
  Tuba Horn [15"]
85 pipes
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
85 pipes
8
  Viol Celeste
73 pipes
8
  Clarinet
61 pipes
8
  Vox Humana [6"]
61 pipes
16
  Flute
97 pipes
8
  Dulciana
61 pipes
    Chrysoglott
49 notes
         (with Vibraphone Action)
 
SOLO CHAMBER
(Right Side, Top – 15" pressure unless noted)
16
  Tuba Mirablis
85 pipes
16
  English Horn
73 pipes
8
  Open Diapason [10"]
61 pipes
16
  Tibia Clausa
97 pipes
8
  Vox Humana [6"]
61 pipes
    Glockenspiel
37 notes
    Xylophone (Small Re-It)
37 notes
    Sleigh Bells
25 notes
    Cathedral Chimes
25 notes
    Toy Counter & Traps  

ORCHESTRAL CHAMBER
(Right Side, Bottom – 10" pressure)
8
  Trumpet
61 pipes
16
  Horn Diapason
73 pipes
8
  Orchestral Oboe
61 pipes
8
  Kinura
61 pipes
8
  Saxophone
61 pipes
8
  String #1
61 pipes
8
  String #2
61 pipes
8
  Krumet
61 pipes
8
  Oboe Horn
61 pipes
8
  Quintadena
61 pipes
    Marimba
49 notes
    Master Xylophone (Single)
37 notes
    Piano (Wurlitzer Upright)
85 notes
             
Master console of Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1984 (1928) at the former Paramount Theatre - Brooklyn, New York (photo: Jeff Weiler)
 
Slave console of Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1984 (1928) at the former Paramount Theatre - Brooklyn, New York (photo: Jeff Weiler)
Factory photo of Main Console
 
Slave console
             
Sources:
     "Brooklyn Paramount Opening," The New York Times (Oct. 7, 1928).
     "Brooklyn Paramount Theatre Building Sold to Simon Fabian, Present Lessee," The New York Times (Feb. 28, 1935).
     Cinema Treasures website: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/618
     Gray, Christopher. "Streetscapes: The Brooklyn Paramount; Once a Rococo Palace, Now a Citadel of Learning," The New York Times (July 31, 1994).
     Junchen, David L., comp. and ed. by Jeff Weiler. The WurliTzer Pipe Organ – An Illustrated History. Indianapolis: The American Theatre Organ Society, 2005.
     New York Theatre Organ Society website: http://www.nytos.org/brooklyn-paramount
     The Theatre Organ Home Page website: http://theatreorgans.com/index.html Specifications of Wurlitzer Organ Co. Style "Publix 4 ."
     Theatre Historical Society Readerboard website: http://theatrehistoricalsociety.wordpress.com
     Walker, Bob. Specifications (May 26, 1972) of Wurlitzer organ, Op. 1984 (1928). Courtesy N.Y.T.O.S.

Illustrations:
     Cinema Treasures website. Exterior (c.1928).
     Flavorwire website: http://flavorwire.com. Interior. Courtesy Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.
     Lawson, Steven E. Exterior; Wurlitzer Organ console (front & closeup); altered by Sebastian M. Glück.
     New York Theatre Organ Society website: www.nytos.org. Wurlitzer Organ console (side view).
     Theatre Historical Society. Interior (c.1928).
     Wurlitzer Organ Company factory photos of main and slave consoles. Courtesy Jeff Weiler.