April 16, 2020

BY LEIF GREISS | BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

Country music played as men used paint brushes to repoint the exterior masonry of the Paramount Performing Arts Center.

Their performance is the only one the entertainment venue will host while the COVID-19 pandemic keeps its doors closed.

. The pandemic forced the Paramount to temporarily close, but it allows for the first major exterior renovations the venue has seen in about 30 years.

Special thanks to “Friends of the Paramount,” a group organized by Bristol native and businesswoman Nancy DeFriece. The group is the reason they are able to get all the work done in one shot.

DeFriece said she grew up attending shows at the Paramount and knew she needed to do something when she saw some of the damage the Paramount had sustained over time.

“The Paramount means a lot to our region, I hated to see what was happening due to the moisture,” DeFriece said.

She said getting everyone together wasn’t hard. She picked up the phone and called friends and acquaintances that she knew cared about the Paramount. They formed the “Friends of the Paramount” in April 2019.

Within six months of their first meeting, the group raised enough to cover every phase of exterior renovations.

“This is a great group of women, most of the funds were raised through them not me,” DeFriece said.

Jim and Barbara Street pledged to fund the first phase of restoration and Jim Street’s company JA Street & Associates is overseeing the work. Carol Jones, through her company Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Jones Property Group, made a donation and Elliott Moore helped get the Ballad Health Foundation to donate to the project as well.

Other donors include Ann and John Tickle, the Massengill-DeFriece Foundation Inc., The United Co. Foundation and the James W. and Frances Gibson McGlothlin Foundation.

Moisture damage is not just limited to the outside of the Paramount. Over time it has seeped into the building causing damage to the interior as well.

Paint and plaster is peeling, the Italianate wall murals are flaking off and the interior carpeting needs to be completely replaced.

Ongoing renovations will continue.