Saint Louis Fox Theatre 1929


The Fabulous Fox Theatre
Saint Louis Fox Theatre Built In 1928
5060 Seats Under One Roof
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Sound Bite:

Garrison Keillor at the Fox

January 20th 2007  Show Link

A Prairie Home Companion®

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The Fox Theatre was built in 1928 along with it's sister Fox Theatre in Detroit Michigan. The two theatre's are the last of twin movies houses built during the silent move era. The theatre's are absolutely spectacular. Restoration of the Saint Louis Fox began in 1980 as a group of local business people came to it's rescue. The Theatre re-opened in 1982. The Detroit Fox was also saved from the wrecking ball in 1986 and it's restoration was completed in 1988. The Fox Theatre's seat 5,060 people all under one roof. Second largest to the Radio City Music Hall In New York. The Radio City is home to the Last Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Installed (Late Thirties) in the US. Both Saint Louis and Detroit theatre's were outfitted with Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organs. These two organs, known as "Crawford Specials", are the only two remaining in their original homes out of five organs built of this type. The prototype was installed in the original Paramount Theatre on Manhattan Island. The Fox chain ordered four for their "Deluxe" houses in Detroit, Saint Louis, Brooklyn and San Francisco.

Billed as "the inspiring $6 million William Fox temple of the motion picture," the Fox Theatre opened originally early in 1929. The decor, designed by William's wife Eve Leo, has been described as Siamese Byzantine. Reporters in 1929 said the theatre and it's Detroit twin were "awe-inspiringly fashioned after Hindoo Mosques of Old India, bewildering in their richness and dazzling in their appointments...striking a note that reverberates around the architectural and theatrical worlds." The Fox faced stiff competition from other theatres in the area, however, and in 1931 went into receivership. Fanchon and Marco took a 25 year lease on the building in 1934, and Harry Arthur became the General Manager, and over the years, the Arthurs gradually gained a controlling interest. Business continually declined, however, despite Arthur Enterprises' ultimately resorting to Kung Fu movies and occasional rock concerts to stay open. Finally, in 1978, the Fox closed. 


Banding together as Fox Associates, Leon Strauss, Robert Baudendistel, Dennis McDaniel and Harvey Harris privately purchased the Fox in 1981, and began a one year, $2 million plus restoration program, directed by Mary Strauss. A conscious effort was made to restore the theatre as closely as possible to its 1929 state of magnificence. Thousands of square feet of ornate plaster work were recreated on site, missing art glass was authentically reproduced, the magnificent 2000 pound chandelier in the auditorium was lowered, cleaned and re-lamped, missing brass fixtures were reproduced, and 7300 yard of carpeting were woven in the original elephant pattern. Even the mighty Wurlitzer organ, one of only five "Crawford Specials" ever built, was lovingly cared for. Electrical systems were replaced, the leaking roof was repaired and eventually replaced, and serious plumbing and mechanical problems were overcome. 

In addition, the stage and backstage areas were completely transformed and updated to accommodate a wide spectrum of contemporary entertainment. 

Today the Fox plays host to a variety of year-round entertainment, including Broadway musicals, concerts and dance productions.

The theatre is also available for rental for private functions.

 

Saint Louis Theatre Organ Society.
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Revised: February 01, 2011