The following early history of the Paradise Theatre was taken from interviews with Betty Kaas, Adeline Yankowiak and Alta Miller, which interviews took place sometime in the late 1990’s. Written by Jean Fairchild, one of the original members of the board of directors when the Paradise re-opened in 1999.  

Kanabec County Times photo - January 15, 1953
Kanabec County Times photo – January 15, 1953

      “Ben Krawiecki Sr. built the Paradise Theatre to replace the small movie theatre on Union St. (currently Oak Gallery). The site chosen was considered crazy – a beautiful wooded lot on the edge of town next to the hotel. The building process began in 1946, and opened that winter. Betty Kaas, Ben’s daughter, remembers people bundled up in heavy coats lined up to get into the theatre.

1st. show at the Paradise, 1947
1st. show at the Paradise, 1947

The north section of the lobby was the soda shop, complete with counter and tall stools. Betty recalls doing homework there when she wasn’t busy. Later on it became a jewelry store. The south section of the lobby was first a beauty shop, then an insurance office, then in 1983 became was home to Oak Gallery.

The upstairs of the Paradise was a lounge where people relaxed waiting for the second show. Many times it was standing room only. The lounge later became a beauty shop, once owned by Alta Miller, the only beauty shop in town that was open daytime only. It later became a hamburger bar, then office space for Arcon.

Adeline Yankowiak was the first ticket taker for the Paradise Theatre. She and her husband Roland lived in the hotel next door. Adeline would hang the hotel laundry in the basement of the theatre. Those large blowers were good for more than blowing popcorn bags down to the front of the theatre! (note: not sure what these blowers were). Roland Yankowiak and Morison (sp?) Klapmeier were two of the first projectionists at the Paradise. Roland was working the night his second child was born. Mr. Krawiecki took Adeline to the hospital in order for the show to go on!

In 1953, while the Catholic church was being built, Mr. Krawiecki offered the auditorium for Masses. The alter was moved on and off stage, confessions were heard behind the movie screen curtain.”