CHEYENNE – The Paramount Building in downtown Cheyenne is enjoying a new life thanks to Renee and Jon Jelinek.
The Jelineks restored the landmark building at 1607 Capitol Ave. while preserving its historic structural integrity.
“It just has such a great history and a good feeling to it,” Renee Jelinek said. “It’s a beautiful building with arched windows and (is) a little bit unique.”
The City of Cheyenne Historic Preservation Board recognized the couple’s efforts Tuesday when it presented them and the building with the LeClerq Jones Award.
The award is given to a Cheyenne business or commercial property to recognize exceptional historic preservation.
“We are super honored with this award,” Renee Jelinek said.
The award is named for LeClerq Jones, who was president of Frontier Printing and an amateur historian. He dedicated 35 years of his life to documenting and preserving Cheyenne’s history through photos and newspaper clippings, according to Blithe McAndrew, a member of the preservation board.
The Paramount Building was built as the Capitol Avenue Theater in 1905, McAndrew said. Architect William DuBois designed the structure in the Chicago style of architecture that was popular then.
The structure included two storefronts on the ground floor and offices on the upper floors, McAndrew said.
The Capitol Avenue Theater/Paramount Building was the gathering place for Cheyenne residents when it was built, Renee Jelinek said. She said that is continuing now as people of all ages come to the Paramount Building.
The building was the place for high school graduations and other community events, she said, adding that its theater presented some amazing productions.
One such production was “Ben Hur.”
“They built a giant treadmill on the stage and brought in an actual horse to run on the treadmill” in the chariot race scene, Renee Jelinek said.
The theater section burned around 1915, Jon Jelinek said.
In the 1930s, the theater was remodeled into a movie house called the Paramount. It was used as a movie theater until another fire occurred in 1981, Jon Jelinek said.
The projector room on the fourth floor shows the damage the fire caused as its walls and projectors are charred.
The Jelineks bought the coffee shop in the Paramount Building in 2013 and purchased the entire building in 2015.
They renovated the upper floors, which had been vacant for 30 years, and relit the marquee sign out front. The Jelineks accomplished the work “all while making no structural changes to the building in order to maintain its architectural integrity,” McAndrew said.
They also kept to the architect’s concept of bathing the upper floors with light from skylights.
The upper floors now are a hub of activity. The Array computer coding school is located there, as well as offices for several nonprofit groups.
In July, the Jelineks opened a ground-floor space called The Ballroom. This is a gathering place that serves cocktails and recently began serving brunch on weekends.
The Ballroom’s sophisticated design includes tables, chairs and a sofa styled with a 1950s-to-early-1960s flair.
Huge enlargements of photographs on the walls depict the Paramount Building in different stages of its life.
“Ultimately, the Jelineks have brought coffee, co-working and now cocktails to this fantastic historic building and also have returned art, music and vibrant life to this block on Capitol Avenue. And for that we commend them,” McAndrew said.
The Jelineks agreed that they have a love for downtown Cheyenne.
“Really, we found our people down here in Cheyenne right downtown. What we saw in the coffee shop when we bought it was that everything was about the people and having a place where they could gather and enjoy themselves,” Jon Jelinek said.