04/15/07 — Paramount progress: On with the show

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Paramount progress: On with the show

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 15, 2007 2:10 AM

With every setback David Weil endures on the road to a new Paramount Theater, words of encouragement and offerings of support pour in tenfold -- a $50,000 check here; a letter from a little boy reading "Thank you," there.

Foundation woes at the Center Street site have pushed opening day back a few months, Weil said.

But as crews continue to dig and donations and letters flow in, it has become clear that this "latest resurrection" of one of Goldsboro's most historic landmarks has plenty of momentum behind it.

"We've been delayed due to some problems in re-engineering the foundations of the building," Weil said. "We've had to put in unusually deep foundations due to the weight of the building compared to the load-bearing capacity of the soil."

Even so, walls should start to go up within the next month or two, he added. That way, the theater will be ready to make its curtain call no later than January 2008.

"In May, people will begin to see the masonry work," Weil said. "Right now, all the work is being done below the ground. We've brought in a new water system to support the sprinklers, and we've put in a new sewer system."

But work at the site is only half the battle, he added.

Back at his office on Walnut Street, Weil is a fundraiser, too -- selling seats, making phone calls and pursuing naming opportunities -- anything to inch closer to his $700,000 goal.

He has already collected close to half of that figure -- roughly $330,000.

Even so, there is no room for complacency in a project of this magnitude, Weil said.

"The initial giving response has been excellent," he said. "But I've got plenty more seats to sell and I need to sell them; I've got plenty more major gifts to collect, and I need to collect them."

Last fall, Goldsboro City Council members announced they had approved a $5 million reconstruction of the Paramount.

Weil vowed to help reduce the cost through a massive fundraising effort.

Since that time, nine "major gifts" -- defined as a pledge of $10,000 or more -- have come in, and more than 100 seats have been sold.

"There's no question that we can raise enough to complete the theater," Weil said. "I'm absolutely confident the funds will be there."

Each check he receives brings with it more promise, he added, but cards and notes like one from a young Wayne County boy named Clark, mean just as much.

"I get these things almost daily. I only keep out a few that are unusual," he said, holding up Clark's note and the picture of himself the boy included in the envelope. "Now this kid here, he's ready to perform."

And Weil said he and others anxiously await that day -- when residents countywide can grace the Paramount with cheers and laughter once again.

"I've never had a project that has had this kind of enthusiasm behind it -- where almost daily someone comes up to me to talk about the theater," Weil said. "I can't tell you that it has broad support. But what I can tell you is that it has the most support of anything I've ever been involved in."

And when the wait is over -- when Goldsboro finally gets its Paramount back -- it will be the dawning of a new age of memory-making for generations to come.

"I think, in many respects, the new theater will be even more glamorous than the former Paramount," he said. "The former Paramount had an appeal that you might say was more decorated in the fashion of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The new theater will be a more modern theater, but it will still have some of the decorative items that hearken back to that era of elegance."