Fox California Theater

241 Main Street,
Salinas, CA 93901

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Showing 1 - 25 of 28 comments

Mikeyisirish
Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 27, 2009 at 7:02 pm

The L.A. Library’s California Index contains a card citing an item in the May, 1935, issue of Architect & Engineer which said that architect Alexander A. Cantin had prepared the plans for remodeling the T&D Theatre in Salinas, and that the house would now be called the Fox Theatre.

I can’t find anything about who did the 1949 remodeling, but my guess would be that it was Charles Skouras’s favorite designer of the era, Carl G. Moeller.

Paula Wirth
Paula Wirth on August 9, 2008 at 11:36 pm

I just visited Salinas on August 8, 2008, and took a ton of pictures of the Fox California Theater, including the front, sign, ticket booth and interior.

tomdelay
tomdelay on February 19, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Already did it Gary.

tld

GaryParks
GaryParks on February 19, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Holly: contact me below, and I can steer you in the right direction re. those historic photos.

hadavis
hadavis on September 21, 2007 at 10:29 pm

I’ve been working on the Fox Theater Salinas web site for the new owners (www.foxtheatersalinas.com) and I’d love to have a few of the old pictures for the history page. Can anyone help me? I’m a transplant to Salinas – by the time I got here it was redone. What I’d really like are the old black and whites like the one one this page (or permission to use that one if anyone knows how to contact the owner).

GaryParks
GaryParks on August 15, 2007 at 10:29 pm

A theatre historian/collector friend of mine just acquired a stack of photos showing the Fox California with its pre-Skouras, but deco interior—very thoroughly photographed. There were chandeliers identical to those still in the Watsonville Fox, what appear to be the original Cornelius-designed organ grilles were visible, though flanked by simple moderne pilasters which now flank Skouras swirls. The metal poles supporting the balcony still had their original 20s plaster, with Ionic capitals just like the ones which still exist in the Mezzanine passageway. Speaking of the latter, the three gold-painted goddess figures were not there. Rather, the space between the Ionic pilasters was occupied by a very classy deco mural of leaping gazelles and-or hounds amid stylized foliage. In both lobby spaces and auditorium, there were simple moderne wall light fixtures where the present sheet-metal-foliage fixtures are.
Not surprisingly, the deco etched mirror in the lobby had a twin where the concession stand now is.

tomdelay
tomdelay on August 6, 2007 at 8:30 pm

That photo is interesting. It is from probably about 1934 or so.
The bank building on the right (still standing) does not have all its windows in it yet. That bank building has some woderfully preserved high art deco features including light fixtures and plaster
bas relief panels that would have looked right at home in the Oakland Paramount.

That F-O-X vertical sign is from 1927 and is still on the building.
As is probably mentioned above, the present “skin” over the original facade was added in 1948 or 49. The original A.W. Cornelius facade is still under that “skin”. However, the top of the facade was built of brick and was largely demolished. This includes the urns and ornamentation along the original facade’s top. The columns, arched windows, and probably the statues are still there.

A photo in the local newspaper morgue shows the statues still in-place as the “skin” was being applied over the original facade.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 6, 2007 at 7:46 pm

The Fox is on the right in this undated photo from the CA state library:
View link

GaryParks
GaryParks on May 2, 2007 at 9:10 am

During a brief breakfast stop in Salinas on the way to Visalia this past weekend, I got to check out the Fox facade. It’s wearing a nice bright paint job, similar to, but a little simpler than its previous one. The vertical sign and marquee have likewise been repainted. The reader boards have been removed from the marquee, presumably for either new ones or new signage. The frames of the poster cases are now done in gold. The box office gleams with fresh paint and polish. The lobby still has its dark early 1990s carpeting, but the walls are painted in reddish hues, much nicer, I think, than the previous salmon and blue-grey. I noticed one small tragedy: The last remaining etched glass door panel is now cracked. The front doors—and their etched panels—have long been the only publically visible feature of the original Neoclassical facade. In the 1990s, I made a rubbing of the then-still-extant other remaining etched panel, with the idea that this would be an insurance policy if ever all of the panels were gone. I still have the rubbing. The panel I took it from was a little more defined in its design than the one extant today.

As a longtime etched glass artist, I will try to contact the new operators, and see if I can be of service. I will not use this Cinematreasures post to trumpet my business contact information, but anyone involved with the project is welcome to contact me below, and we’ll take it from there.

tomdelay
tomdelay on April 10, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Geeze. Thinking ahead and writing behind. This quote from above is NOT complete:

>Regarding the posting above by Pat Molinari, you were looking in >the wrong place. When the present facade was built circa 1948-49, >the ornate top cornice work (built on brick) was chipped away. >Below that, that cast concrete columns and window arches are in >place—but you can only see the main center arched window and >Corinthian comlumns on each side of the central window.

The only place these items can be seen is from on top of the marquee.
The original facade is quite spectacular. A 1930s deco bas relief panel occupies this former arched window space in the upstairs lobby.

BTW, I was lucky enough to be in the FOX a week or so ago. The bars that are being added upstairs are great! They are in the style of the theatre and do not look out of place at all. Good job Tim and company!

tomdelay
tomdelay on April 10, 2007 at 7:13 pm

Here is a link to a photo of the auditorium of the Sac'to Crest.

http://www.thecrest.com/pictures/new_pic1.cfm

While not exactly the same, it bears a striking similarity to the Salinas Fox-California.

tomdelay
tomdelay on April 10, 2007 at 7:02 pm

Regarding the posting above by Pat Molinari, you were looking in the wrong place. When the present facade was built circa 1948-49, the ornate top cornice work (built on brick) was chipped away. Below that, that cast concrete columns and window arches are in place—but you can only see the main center arched window and Corinthian comlumns on each side of the central window.

A photo in the Steinbeck Library newspaper morgue shows the new facade was built right over the original from 1921. All that can be seen from the attic above the projection booth is the chipped away brick.

I would expect if some exploration cameras were lowered into the spaces, the rest of the remaining facade is probably intact. The photo at the library shows the statues being covered over!

If one looks at the photos of the theatre when it was near new, you can clearly see the urns and cornices at the roof line. All that is gone. It can also be seen that the roof structure was lowered to meet the new 1948 facade. If you look at the top of the concrete on the front of the north wall, you can see where concrete has been filled in to meet this new facade.

The California Theatre was remodeled in the early 1930s—Probably about 1935. That was when the organ chambers were scooped out and fire exits for the balcony run through them. The remains of the 1935 redecoration remains, hidden from view, behind the gold-leaf bands that run up each side of the auditorium front and across the ceiling. Only seen from behind, the covered over pattern appears to be the same as the various grills above the balcony and at the rear of the main floor under the balcony.

We videotaped an exploration of this long covered over area and these grills from 1935 are clearly in view. There was another large star shaped decoration above the present ceiling.

I understand the decorative neon lighting circuits in the coves of the 1949 auditorium are being restored. This will be great! This theatre is very much like a smaller scale version of the Crest in Sacramento. If one wants to see what the California auditorium could look like, check out the website for the Sac'to Crest Theatre.

Employee Zero above mentions the 1938 El Rey Theatre. That theatre was really quite nice until a church took over and painted out the murals on the theatre’s walls. There was never a stage, other than a small thrust stage and enough space to house the speakers. The place has been closed so long, that I am sure any grandfather clauses that might have applied to the building have run out. That means the place needs to be 100% brought up to code.

I remember the interior quite vividly. It was a very nicely decorated theatre. The murals on the side walls were quite something. Apparently the erstwhile church (that never even used the El Rey) painted out the murals because they felt they were too racey. What a waste.

xmfreak
xmfreak on March 22, 2007 at 4:33 am

Another Update on the Fox’s Restoration/Remodel project. Looks like the new owners have started peeling/repainting of the exterior…Look/Read for yourselves:

View link

I do have to say I love the idea of the banquet style seating…I just think it could really bring some old charm to the Fox. Can’t wait to visit it after the restoration/remodel.

zumieznoskate
zumieznoskate on March 14, 2007 at 6:51 am

i was just around that area. and was so sad to see not barely two blocks down the road was another theater that was of the same time frame almost. but as i see the fox in the above picture i see that it has the same front on it that it has now just painted differently. idk i dont know it as well as someone who has worked there but im all for making old theaters like new, and it makes me sad to see one like that.

here is the fox
View link

and then the theater down the streat.
View link

toastychic
toastychic on February 27, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Just thought you’d like to know that the Fox has been purchased. Here is a link to the article about it.
View link

WestCoastPat
WestCoastPat on November 24, 2006 at 5:46 pm

The rumor I heard was the original front of the building was intact and able to be seen from the attic space between the old and new front. I was lucky enough to have been managing the grand old house (3 kung-fu-action hits-LOL) and spent an entire day exploring the nooks and cranny’s of a very solid and beautiful building. No view of the original front was there, but many years of history was tossed around in both the attic and the basement. What a glorious place it must have been in its heyday.

tomdelay
tomdelay on February 8, 2006 at 7:30 am

To Save the Fox California: Been there done that. We even met with the City Manager and Mayor. Zero, zip, ziltch. Don’t forget the Silliness mentality that, since the city budget was strapped, they decided to balance the shortfall by trying to close the city libraries to save money.

Of course did ONE of the city beaurocrats ever take a pay cut? Did they ever come up with a viable means to trim the city budget? Of course not. This was all a punishment from the City to the citizens for not passing a utility tax a few years ago. If the Fox were given to the city at a “fire sale price”, they would probably take it and then spend the next 20 years trying to figure out what to do with it.

The City of Silliness has a stellar reputation for taking forever to get things accomplished.

The City of Silliness was a pain in the neck to the theatre with snap inspections, and beaurocratic BS that only ended when a fine local attny. did pro bono work for the FOX Foundation and got the City off the Fox’s back (and ours.)

We have become disgusted with the entire idea and removed the Wurlitzer pipe organ. It is going into the Indiana Theatre in Terre Haute.

Back in 1968, the City of Silliness was offered the Fox and the former Elks lodge next door. Adequately remodeled and restored, this would have provided a very nice civic facility right in the heart of the city. Rather than that, the City built the Sherwood Hall well out of the city center, with no hotels nearby, no stage house, terrible, noisy portable seating in the front half of the house—but it was new and modern, not some tired old movie theatre;
their 1968 attitude, not mine.

My guess as to what the City of Silliness would do with the Fox if they owned it? After 20 years of trying to figure it all out, tear it down so there is a pass-thru from Main Street to the parking lot behind the Fox.

Sorry for the sour attitude, but, been there, done that.

DKessinger
DKessinger on January 2, 2005 at 3:07 pm

I live in Merced, Ca. I am one of those that belives we must save our local historical sites for the future. I have done “A LITTLE” Fund Raising in the past and if area residents would like to contact me I think we could put together a small 501c-3 organization to save this theater and but it to good use. My main thought would be a concert venue to raise money for youth projects and activities as well as house a youth theatre company.

We will need five people to start this project, the name of the local attorney that set the City “right”, and the willingness to push forward quickly.

You Can Contact me at

AlanDCaron
AlanDCaron on December 3, 2004 at 6:21 am

It is truly sad that the City of Salinas does not support the Fox Theatre in Salinas. As a child growing up in Santa Rosa, CA., I witnessed “first hand” the attempts of a small town to “grown up” and become modern only to lose the treasures it had. The Roxy Theatre was torn down and replaced by a three level parking garage for a new shopping center. Wow…what a great thing they had done! The city was so proud to have two shopping centers.
I have had the honor and privledge of performing live theatre in the Fox Theatre.What a grand theatre it is. Whether I was sitting in the audience (during rehearsal)or waiting backstage to go on, I often wondered how other performers felt. Did they look around in wonderment at the beautiful craftmenship? Did they see the many hours of work it took to build this palace? Did they feel like I felt, nervous before they stepped on stage?
This building has a rich and beautiful history. I can say I have been part of it. If I had the money, or won the Lotto, I would buy this fine palace, restore it to the elegant beauty of it’s past,and invite one and all to see that art is not only on the stage, but it surrounds it.

tomdelay
tomdelay on October 7, 2004 at 9:55 pm

Ben;

You should come over to Monterey and see what is happening with the Golden State Theatre there. That theatre has been privately purchased and is in the middle of a major restoration as I write this. Shame on the City of Silliness for not getting its “act” together!

Tom DeLay (no, NOT the erstwhile Congressman!)

Benny
Benny on October 7, 2004 at 1:43 pm

I was a projectionist at the Fox in 1964.
It was a great theatre to put on a real presentation from a projectionist’s point of view.
I sincerely hope that the city of Salinas does not follow in the footsteps of so many metro areas by tearing down their movie palaces.
I have done projection and sound renovations in these old palaces around the country and it is with great pride that at least some of these great palaces remain today as part of our heritage.
Ben Kehe
Motion Picture Projection Services, Inc.
918 906 3715

tomdelay
tomdelay on September 23, 2004 at 11:29 pm

Sadly, preservation efforts have failed on the Salinas Fox. The organ is being removed and the property is for sale. The owners have been more than willing to string the theatre along to try and save the place. At ever opportunity, the City tried to place restrictions on the theatre’s use. The City has bordered on abusive until a local attorney set the City “right”. Regarless, other investors want to be rid of the structure.

The City of Silliness seems to be unable to save any historic structures. The City of Silliness needs to have a strong slap in their collective faces for NOT stepping forward to preserve this theatre. The city is continually financially strapped, but they have plenty of money to over-pay the gobs of do-nothings in City Hall. Now the city is threatening to close the libraries in this cow town. How could one expect such an overpaid city staff to ever preserve a structure such as the Fox?

As I have said for years about this town I live in, “If it does not involve a horse, cow, or head of lettuce, no one pays any attention”.
I would love for this place to prove me wrong!