Paramount Theatre, Oakland, California
GRAND LOBBY (facing west) - "CANOPY OF LIGHT"
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Photographer: Cathe Centorbe

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GRAND LOBBY FACING WEST - CANOPY OF LIGHT

"Four plain matte gold bands form an approximately 8'-wide 'frame,' as Pflueger called it, at each side of the central feature of both end walls and ceiling. The bands composing the 'frames' are stepped inward and upward to form shallow offsets and continue without interruption up both east and west walls and along the ceiling. The grand lobby has no conventional lighting fixtures. Instead, it receives its light not only from the 'windows' just described but also from the central feature of both end walls and ceiling, a 'canopy of light.' That remarkable feature is about 25' wide, rises the full height of the east wall above the entrance, extends the length of the ceiling, and descends to form a curtain motif above the mezzanine opening in the west wall. It is composed of grillework masking light chambers. The grilles are made up of 12"-wide strips of galvanized sheet metal set on edge and joined. In a letter to HABS, George B. Wagner, who supervised the construction of the grilles, described their assembly as follows: 'No particular artistry was involved, just a lot of cutting, bending, and soldering necessary to follow the drawings.'

The 'canopy of light' is divided longitudinally by gold-colored metal moldings into a wide central field flanked by much narrower borders. The pattern of the borders, an extended zig-zag enriched with small diamond shapes, runs throughout the length of the 'canopy.' The central field has a very rich and complex intersecting chevron pattern for most of its length, but that pattern ends part of the way down the west wall. The rest of the grille is composed of a swirling scroll pattern, the scrolls diminishing in size as they near the top. An elliptical opening, resembling an oeil-de-boeuf set on end, is centered in the west wall grille and serves as an overlook from the balcony foyer into the grand lobby. The grille ends above the mezzanine opening in a delicately cusped honeycombed 'fringe.'

The moldings dividing the borders from the central field descend to (or rise from) rostra flanking the upper run of the grand stairway. They thus continue (or originate) as colonette-like elements making the mezzanine opening tripartite. Each 'colonette' has a duplicate aligned just west of it to give visual support to the full depth of the soffit. The rostra have solid reeded podia about 5' wide finished in burnished gilding, and are fronted by continuations of the stair railings."


- Historic American Buildings Survey Document No. CA-1976

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