Posted On: February 22, 2010
On Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl signed the final legislation designating the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange to be a City of Pittsburgh Historic Landmark. Council had voted, 8-1, to designate the Film Exchange on Jan. 26th. You can see a copy of the legislation here: Final Bill Passage
YPA is grateful to Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle and the other Council people who voted in favor of this designation, as well as YPA’s Board, Advisory Committee, Members, and partners, such as the Uptown Community Partners, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and the Pittsburgh Film Office. More than 75 letters of support had been received in support of the designation.
YPA is especially grateful for Drew Edward Levinson, the 21-year-old film student who first called our attention to this important historic landmark. His video appears below (scroll down).
Last spring, YPA nominated the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange Building, at 1727 Boulevard of the Allies in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood, to be a city of Pittsburgh Historic Landmark.
On August 5, 2009, the City of Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission voted to recommend to City Council the designation of the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange to be a City of Pittsburgh Historic Landmark. The Uptown Community Partners, the leading community based organization in the Uptown-Soho neighborhood, endorsed the nomination, along with more than 75 supporters.
The building was recently sold to a developer who plans to rehabilitate the building. The building had been owned by UPMC Mercy since 2008. This is a win-win for the Uptown neighborhood, which is undergoing a revival, the City of Pittsburgh, and for the region’s film history. If it were not for a YouTube video about the film exchange produced by Drew Levinson last spring, Pittsburgh’s rich motion picture legacy would not have been told.
Designed by R.E. Hall Co. Architects of New York City in 1926, the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange building meets the Historic Review Commission’s criteria for its association with important cultural or social aspects or events in the history of the City of Pittsburgh, the State of Pennsylvania, the Mid-Atlantic region, or the United States.
The Paramount Pictures Film Exchange Building is the last original remnant of Pittsburgh’s “Film Row.” From the 1920s until the 1970s and 80s, film exchanges were operated by movie studios that contained a film library of reels, offices, and private screening rooms. Theater owners could view a picture before booking them into their theaters. Pittsburgh’s film exchanges were all within a couple blocks of each other forming a “film row,” because it was very much a ‘one-stop shopping’ deal, where theater owners could go out of one exchange and immediately into the next—possibly to negotiate or book films from several studios. Now, Pittsburgh’s last one remains, the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange building.
History Captured in Film
This history came to light just this spring, when YPA held a historic preservation video contest for students under the age of 25. This year’s first-place winner was a student at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Drew Edward Levinson, who profiled the history—and possible threat—to the Paramount building.
Judges for the contest included a number of experienced preservationists who had never heard of this building, never knew of Film Row, and were fascinated by the video. The YouTube video is embedded below.
YPA held an awards ceremony on March 28th to honor Mr. Levinson and the video was shown before an audience of about 100 people at Carnegie Museum of Art. State Senator Ferlo encouraged Mr. Levinson to nominate the building for historic status, and YPA offered to assist. YPA’s board unanimously supports this nomination.
Here’s the YouTube video:
Here are two GigaPan interactive panoramas of the Paramount building:
YPA Letters & Testimony:
Testimony for 1-12-10
Paramount Pictures Film Exchange Building: Fact Sheets
Here’s the original historic nomination form:
Paramount Pictures Film Exchange Building Nomination Form
City Council votes to designate Paramount building as historic landmark, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 27, 2010
Pittsburgh City Council designates Paramount Pictures building as historic, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 26, 2010
Pittsburgh approves historic status for Paramount building, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 20, 2010
Sale of Paramount building slated for today, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 19, 2010
Uptown Paramount building historic designation debated, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 18, 2010
Public supportive of Paramount, The Duquesne Duke, January 14, 2010
Preservationists aim to save Uptown film exchange building, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 13, 2010
Dozens attend meeting about Paramount Pictures building, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 12, 2010
Historic Uptown building faces demise, The Duquesne Duke, October 1, 2009
Movie buff’s effort saves a building of paramount importance to film history, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 10, 2009
Historical designation for Uptown building OK’d, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 6, 2009
Pittsburgh’s Film Exchange gets historic designation, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 6, 2009
A bid to preserve part of Pittsburgh’s film history, WQUQ 90.5-FM, August 4, 2009
Group wants to save some of Pittsburgh’s Hollywood history, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 10, 2009