Fox Oakland Theatre

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Fox Oakland Theater
Fox Oakland Theatre.jpg
Fox Oakland Theatre 2002
Location 1807 Telegraph Avenue
United States Oakland, California, USA
Coordinates 37°48′28″N 122°16′12″W / 37.8079°N 122.27013°W / 37.8079; -122.27013
Type Indoor theatre
Opened 1928
Renovated February 5, 2009
Closed 1973
Owner City of Oakland
Operator Another Planet Entertainment
Seating type Orchestra, Balcony
Capacity 2,800

Fox-Oakland Theater
Fox Oakland Theatre is located in California
Fox Oakland Theatre
Location 1807--1829 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California
Coordinates 37°48′32″N 122°16′9″W / 37.80889°N 122.26917°W / 37.80889; -122.26917Coordinates: 37°48′32″N 122°16′9″W / 37.80889°N 122.26917°W / 37.80889; -122.26917
Built 1928
Architectural style Art Deco
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 79000468[1]
Added to NRHP February 2, 1979

The Fox Oakland Theatre is a 2,800-seat movie theater, located at 1807 Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland, California. The theater was designed by Weeks and Day, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and reopened on February 5, 2009.


The Oakland Fox Theater, a 2,800 seat movie theater originally opened its doors on October 27, 1928 in downtown Oakland, California, after two years under construction.[2] The opening was highly anticipated by the Bay Area residents.

Originally intended to be named "The Bagdad" because of its Middle Eastern influenced architecture, it was instead given the name "West Coast Oakland". The Fox Theater became the 251st theater to open in the West Coast Theater chain.[3] In 1929, it was renamed the "Fox Oakland" when William Fox bought the West Coast Theatres chain and merged it with his Fox Theatres chain. The launch of the Fox was expected to earn high earnings in the downtown district. Reestablishing the movie industry, the Fox offered the opportunity to stray from the silent films and helped introduce the “talkies” by having a live stage show.[4] As the Fox Theater made its debut, so did the Paramount Theater, also located downtown.[2] At no point was there any hesitation of having two theaters nearby, as the Fox provided a different appeal than the Paramount.

The Fox Oakland Theatre opened with the Fox Film Corporation movie The Air Circus. The theater housed a Wurlitzer theatre organ.

Attendance significantly dropped in the 1960s and the Oakland Fox officially closed its doors in 1966.[2] The theater was in decline on account of the rise of television and smaller multiplex theaters. It stopped showing first-run movies in 1962, dabbled briefly in softcore porn films, and closed in 1970, after showing its final film, Let It Be with The Beatles.

During the years of closure,there were many plans for the theater to be restored; other possibilities included converting the Fox to a mall.[5] It suffered an arson fire in 1973 but was not heavily damaged. The city considered tearing it down in 1975 to make room for a parking lot. The theater was spared when it was made an Oakland City Landmark in 1978. The following year it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1996, the City of Oakland bought the building for $3 million. Some badly needed restoration work began in 1999. By late 2001, the marquee and blade sign had been restored. In December 2004, the Oakland Redevelopment Agency received a $2.9 million grant for further restoration of the theater. There are plans for Oakland School for the Arts to move into the theater and construction began in September 2006. After a long 3 year wait, the school finally moved into the theater. Bank of America provided the financing for the rehabilitation.


With terra cotta, rich colors, intricate gold accents, and distinctive dome, the theater’s design redefined architecture in that era. The interior of the Fox Theater was delicately crafted and said to be described as “mystical”.[4] With its intriguing resemblance of an Indian temple, the Fox Theater was a fascinating attribute to downtown Oakland. At this time, theaters across the nation strived to be more than just a typical building. The designs of various theaters were inspired greatly by Middle Eastern and Indian architecture; the Fox was initially going to be named “The Bagdad” but eventually was called “West Coast Oakland”.[4] Once it was bought by William Fox, the theater it was renamed once again, but this time the new name “Fox Oakland Theater” was here to stay.

Restoration project[edit]

The Oakland Redevelopment Agency purchased the Fox Theater in 1996 in an effort to preserve the historic landmark. The theater remained vacant with only maintenance being performed and no plans for its reuse until 2001. At that time an Oakland A's ballpark was considered for the area adjacent to the Fox Theater and preliminary plans were evaluated for incorporation of the theater into the ballpark complex. When these plans fell through the theater continued to be vacant and suffer vandalism and another serious fire. When then mayor Jerry Brown needed to find a new home for the Oakland School For The Arts, a charter high school dedicated to the arts, the task fell to the Redevelopment Staff. Community Redevelopment Director Daniel Vanderpriem originally conceived of the idea of placing the high school in the retail and office space that surrounded, and was part of, the Fox Theater structure. Restoring and reopening the theater in a shared use plan with the school was quickly championed by local developer Phil Tagami. The unpreserved theater suffered many tragedies during its forty year abandoned period. Deteriorated by several arson fires, disastrous vandalism, and decay, restoring the once prestigious Fox Theater was not an easy task.[6] The historical landmark suffered great damages, but it was evident that many locals supported the idea of renovating an important element of Oakland’s culture. In addition, “Friends of the Oakland Fox” was created by supporting community members.[5] Friends of the Oakland Fox, also known as FOOF, played a role with the Oakland Redevelopment Agency in raising funding for the elaborate $75 million restoration process. The President of FOOF, Phil Tagami was a major contributor to the restoration of the Fox and contracted with the Oakland Redevelopment Agency to lead the finance and construction team. During the refinement of plans Mr. Tagami was instrumental in shaping the school for the arts space and the theater reuse concept. Due to creative financing efforts only about 35% of the cost of the theater restoration and high school construction came from the City of Oakland Redevelopment Agency, and was used to leverage the majority of financing which came from outside public and private sources such as the syndication of tax credits. As the elaborate process began, there was a lot of speculation regarding the future success of the stagnant theater and its impact on the Paramount Theater, also owned by the Redevelopment Agency and located just blocks away. However, the Redevelopment Agency, Mr. Tagami, FOOF, and local supporters formulated unique operational plans for the renovated Fox Theater. Today the Fox Theater operates a specialized commercial entertainment venue that plays a key role in the revitalization of downtown Oakland and provides a high profile location for the highly successful School of the Arts which is integrated into the Fox Theater building shares the theater stage space for its own productions and events.

A new beginning[edit]

February 2009 marked the beginning of a new era for the Fox. After being neglected for forty years, the once glamorous theater made its comeback.[3] Accentuating its revival, the theater’s grand opening night featured a “roaring twenties” theme celebrating the newly renovated theater.[7] Many attended the imminent premiere that celebrated the city’s prized possession. The reopening of the Fox embodied a whole new dimension of the Fox Theater. The newly renovated theater now offered more to the public. From a wide variety of spectacles, the grand opening night attracted a large crowd of intrigued guests.[8] The Oakland Fox Theater now serves as a school, restaurant, and prominent live concert venue. It has hosted many concerts by various recognizable artists such as Prince, My Chemical Romance, Beirut, Air, Bob Dylan, Green Day, Wolfmother, Ween, Alice in Chains, Mastodon (band), Kylie Minogue, Animal Collective & The Decemberists since its opening.[9]

New features[edit]

The Oakland Fox Theater is now home of the Oakland School for the Arts, a Charter school founded in 2002 which enrolls students from 6-12th grade specializing in the arts.[10] The Oakland School for the Arts or also known as OSA, waited three years to occupy the renowned facility and currently is settled in the new upstairs space of the Fox. The Bank of America provided the necessary funding for the school to obtain the space. Another great distinguishable feature is the newly constructed restaurant called The Den.[11] The new restaurant features a great variety of food and a bar that can be found alongside The Den. With the new features, the Oakland Fox Theater targets a wide range of audience from kids to adults.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b c Bagwell, Beth. Oakland: The Story of a City. Oakland Heritage Alliance, 1996.
  3. ^ a b Fox Oakland Theater Restoration Project. 2007. Oct. 2009 <>.
  4. ^ a b c The Fox Oakland. 2009. Another Planet. Oct. 2009 <>
  5. ^ a b Friends of the Oakland Fox. 2004-2009. Oct. 2009 <>
  6. ^ Fox Oakland Theater Restoration Project. 2007. Oct. 2009 <>
  7. ^ 7
  8. ^ "Oakland's Historic Fox Theater Reopens." CBS Channel 5. 5 Feb. 2009. Oct. 2009
  9. ^ "Kylie Minogue preps for first ever North American tour." Live Daily. 6 May 2009. Oct. 2009
  10. ^ 5
  11. ^ 6


  • Bagwell, Beth. Oakland: The Story of a City. Oakland Heritage Alliance, 1996.
  • Fox Oakland Theater Restoration Project. 2007. Oct. 2009
  • Friends of the Oakland Fox. 2004-2009. Oct. 2009
  • "Kylie Minogue preps for first ever North American tour." Live Daily. 6 May 2009. Oct. 2009
  • Oakland School for the Arts. 2009. Oct. 2009 website.
  • The Fox Oakland. 2009. Another Planet. Oct. 2009 Fox
  • "Oakland's Historic Fox Theater Reopens." CBS Channel 5, 5 Feb. 2009; Oct. 2009.

External links[edit]