Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Bid to Preserve Part of Pittsburgh's Film History

A building that was once part of Pittsburgh's "Film Row" will be considered for a historic designation this week. Film student Drew Levinson sought the designation for the former Paramount Pictures film exchange on Boulevard of the Allies in Uptown. The brick building has been vacant for a while. Some windows are broken. But you can still see the Paramount logo over the front door. Levinson says that's why the building caught his eye. When he heard about a documentary contest sponsored by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh, he decided to research the building.

Beginning in the early 1900s, many major production companies operated film exchanges in Pittsburgh and other larger cities. They were places where theater owners could screen movies before deciding whether to book them. The buildings also served as film libraries and distribution centers. That began to change around the advent of videocassettes in the 1970s and '80s. Levinson says the Paramount building had been one of several film exchanges along Boulevard of the Allies... now it's the only one that hasn't been altered or torn down.

Levinson won the Young Preservationists Association documentary contest. Now the group is backing his effort to preserve the building. Pittsburgh's Historic Review Commission will consider the nomination on Wednesday.

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