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(NR & SR) 1007-1017 W. Sprague Avenue

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The 1931 Fox Theater was built during the transition from vaudeville and silent movies to the “talkies”, and was a glamorous symbol of the new Hollywood. This Spokane treasure also epitomizes the exuberance of the modernistic and flamboyant Art Deco architectural style.

Designed by Robert Reamer, with assistance from the local firm of Whitehouse and Price, the Fox cost $1 million to build. Anthony Heinsbergen, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after interior designers, created the one-of-a-kind Depression-era murals, which cover the walls of the lobby, mezzanine and lounges of the theater. These fanciful murals depict an evolution from underwater flora to fantasy landscapes of castles and clouds as one moves from the lobby level to the mezzanine and up into the balcony. The painted auditorium ceiling depicts sunlight radiating from a 60-foot wide plaster and glass sunburst over a forest canopy of green foliage. “Modern” building materials such as etched glass and aluminum tracery form an airy accent to the staircase and mezzanine.

The Fox Theater was designed to support live performances as well as film presentations. The Fox Theater was equipped not only with the latest in movie technology of the day, but also with a full-height stage house, an orchestra pit, and backstage dressing rooms. Period stars such as Paderewski, Katherine Hepburn, Bing Crosby, the Bolshoi Ballet, and the Cleveland Orchestra performed live on the theater’s stage. One of the more colorful historical footnotes at the Fox Theater involved the arrest of Frank Sinatra following an altercation with the stage manager during his performance!

The renovation and rehabilitation of the Fox Theater is an important element of Spokane’s “Downtown Renaissance”. Today, Spokane is witnessing exciting changes and opportunities in its downtown core, due in large part to the revitalization of numerous historic and architecturally significant buildings. The Fox Theater is an integral part of the Davenport Arts District, an area of downtown Spokane that centers on the recently renovated Davenport Hotel, and encompasses a host of art galleries, theaters, restaurants and hotels. In addition to functioning as the home of the Spokane Symphony, the Fox Theater will also serve as a community performing arts center and a resource to a widespread regional audience. When rehabilitation is complete, the Fox Theater will seat 1700 patrons, mid-way between the Met and the Opera House, and will accommodate performing groups that currently bypass Spokane due to the lack of an appropriately sized venue.

Today, on a nationwide scale, demolition, neglect and urban renewal increasingly threaten the legacy of the Art Deco movement. As evidence of this alarming trend, only four Art Deco buildings remain in Spokane; the Fox Theater is the most prominent. The renovation of the Fox Theater and its adaptive reuse as a regional performing arts center will ensure that the architectural legacy of Reamer, Heinsbergen and the Art Deco movement itself will continue in a strong and vibrant manner. The Fox Theater will once again be Spokane’s “Place to Go”.