Fox Theater (Spokane, Washington)

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Fox Theater
Fox Theater Spokane.JPG
The theater after restoration.
Fox Theater is located in Washington (state)
Fox Theater
Fox Theater
Fox Theater in Spokane, Wash.
Full name Martin Woldson Theater at the FOX
Address 1001 W. Sprague Ave.
Spokane, Washington
Coordinates 47°39′26″N 117°25′37″W / 47.657092°N 117.426832°W / 47.657092; -117.426832
Owner Spokane Symphony
Operator Spokane Symphony
Type Theatre
Genre(s) concerts, movies, theatre
Construction
Opened 1931-09-03 (1931-09-03)
Renovated November 2007
Construction cost
  • US$1 million (1931)
  • US$31 million (2007)
Architect Robert C. Reamer
Website
www.foxtheaterspokane.com
Fox Theater or Martin Woldson Theater At The Fox
MPS Movie Theaters in Washington State MPS
NRHP reference # 01001287
Added to NRHP November 30, 2001

The Fox Theater in Spokane, Washington is a 1931 Art Deco movie theater. It was designed by architect Robert C. Reamer,[1] notable for his design of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone Park. It was part of the Fox Film Corporation Empire founded by studio mogul William Fox.[2] The theater opened September 3, 1931 and showed films continuously until it closed September 21, 2000 after an engagement of the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe.[3]

History[edit]

Opening[edit]

The Fox Theater opened with seating for 2,350 patrons (1,450 on the ground floor and 900 in the balcony)[4] on 3 September 1931. The cost of construction was publicized as US$1,000,000 (equivalent to $15,700,000 in 2016), and the Fox opened with a live production of Fanchon and Marco's About Town,[5] followed by the film Merely Mary Ann one week later.[6] Anita Page, Mitzi Green, George O'Brien, Victor McLaglen and El Brendel attended the opening performance gala.[7] Interior decorations and appointments, designed by Anthony Heinsbergen,[8] were singled out for praise in contemporary newspaper accounts.[9]

Multiplex and Decline[edit]

In May 1961, The Fox Theater sold its organ to a Los Angeles-area collector, who disassembled it and had it shipped to California. The process of dismantling the organ took approximately one week.[10] The Fox Theater subdivided its main screen and opened as a three-screen complex (with one main screen downstairs and two balcony screens upstairs) on 14 November 1975.[11] In 1989, the theater began showing second-run movies[12] at US$1 (equivalent to $2 in 2016) per ticket.[13] When Regal Cinemas built the new 12-screen megaplex at NorthTown Mall, it sold half of its eight Spokane theaters,[14] including the Fox. The final movie, a screening of Gladiator, was shown on 21 September 2000, and a small ceremony marked the sale of the theater to the Spokane Symphony.[12]

Restoration[edit]

The adjacent Spokane Club sought to purchase and demolish the building to build a parking garage.[15] Although the club had entered into negotiations with the then-owners, Regal Cinemas, the Club dropped its plans to purchase the theater when they learned the Spokane Symphony was interested in the site.[16] The theater was saved when the Spokane Symphony purchased it[17] for US$1.1 million in June 2000.[18] Once the Symphony determined whether the renovations were feasible and the funds could be raised,[19] it began an extensive fund raising campaign to raise the budget needed for restoration.[20] Part of the funds were raised from state sources.[21] Prominent architectural features were renamed in honor of significant donors.[22]

The restoration designer was NAC Architecture of Spokane. Restorers cleaned and painted, recreated lost architectural details and lighting fixtures.[23][24][25] They also removed partitions installed in 1975 which converted the theatre into a multiplex. They reduced the original 2,300 seats to 1,700.[2] The Wurlitzer 3-manual, 13-rank theatre organ installed when the building was constructed in 1931 was removed in 1961.[15]

The total cost of the renovations was $31 million and it was completed in November 2007.[26] The theatre was renamed the Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox in honor of the father of a donor who contributed $3 million towards the renovations.[27] It re-opened as the home of the Spokane Symphony on November 17, 2007,[26] presided over by Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.[28] The re-opening included a special celebration featuring a performance by Tony Bennett on November 19, 2007.[29][30]

Notable performances[edit]

Notable performances at the theatre include: Katharine Hepburn, in As You Like It, as well as Marian Anderson, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra.[29] Michelle Obama, wife of the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama held a rally campaigning for her husband's presidential campaign on February 8, 2008.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Prager, Mike (21 November 2005). "Fox closes its curtains for major renovations". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Jim Kershner (July 2, 2008). "Fox Theatre (Spokane)". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  3. ^ Eric L. Flom (February 22, 2003). "The Fox Theatre in Spokane opens on September 3, 1931". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  4. ^ Hindley, Wilbur W. (3 September 1931). "Fox Theater Is Last Word in Beauty and Efficiency". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Fanchon & Marco's First Bill is "About Town" Idea". The Spokesman-Review. 3 September 1931. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Screen Lovers on Fox Screen". The Spokesman-Review. 3 September 1931. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  7. ^ ""Big Shots" of Screenland Here "in Person" Open Fox". The Spokesman-Review. 3 September 1931. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Artistic Work on Fox Theater". The Spokesman-Review. 17 August 1931. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Interior Decoration Adds Beauty to New Fox Theater in Spokane". The Spokesman-Review. 16 August 1931. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Spokane Theater Organ Era Ends". The Spokesman-Review. 23 October 1961. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Fox Theater opens as triplex". The Spokesman-Review. 15 November 1975. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Brunt, Jonathan (22 September 2000). "It's last picture show for the Fox". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Kershner, Jim (8 December 1996). "Refurbishing The Fox After Falling Into A State Of Disrepair, A Grand Old Spokane Landmark Gets Spruced Up". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Cannata, Amy (14 June 2000). "Curtains are closing on small theaters". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Fox Theatre". Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society. May 2000. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  16. ^ Cannata, Amy (31 May 2000). "Club drops plan to buy Fox Theater". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Cannata, Amy (19 June 2000). "Spokane Symphony signs deal to buy Fox Theater". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  18. ^ Cannata, Amy (19 June 2000). "Symphony signs to buy theater". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  19. ^ Cannata, Amy (19 May 2000). "Symphony submits bid for Fox in effort to save it". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  20. ^ Cannata, Amy (20 June 2000). "Fixing the Fox". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Roesler, Richard (23 April 2005). "Construction budget omits WSU project". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  22. ^ Stucke, John (25 February 2007). "Board stays foxy about new name". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Millsap, Cheryl-Anne (8 April 2005). "Bringing back The Fox". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Prager, Mike (10 May 2006). "Fox is an art-deco archetype". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Prager, Mike (20 July 2006). "Renovating beauty". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  26. ^ a b Prager, Mike (19 October 2010). "Fox Theater restoration to be recognized nationally". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  27. ^ Prager, Mike (22 March 2007). "Fox Theater benefactor's identity revealed". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  28. ^ Craig, John (18 November 2007). "A Showplace shines". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  29. ^ a b "About Us". Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 
  30. ^ Kershner, Jim (11 November 2007). "Fox Line forms here". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  31. ^ Jim Camden (February 8, 2008). "Campaigns Swinging through Spokane". The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review. SpokesmanReview.com. Retrieved 2011-02-25. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°39′26″N 117°25′37″W / 47.657092°N 117.426832°W / 47.657092; -117.426832