Fox Phoenix Theatre

11 S. First Street,
Phoenix, AZ 85004

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Showing 1 - 25 of 50 comments

Tillthen
Tillthen on November 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I saw King Solomon’s Mines here in 1950. Great movie, great, fantastic theatre. The politicians who razed it should rot in hell forever.

pinupgirl16
pinupgirl16 on January 20, 2013 at 10:32 am

This makes me so sad, I never knew Fox Phoenix existed. I wish it was still there. What a Beauty!!!

theatrebob
theatrebob on November 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I am Bob Bowman, the ass’t manager of the Fox Phoenix in 1954 standing in front of the theatre in the photo when The Egyptian was making it’s first run “roadshow"engagement. I have many souvenirs from the day the auction of theatre property was held in 1975 and am interested in acquiring more or conversing with others interested in knowing more about the great movie theatres in Phoenix. email:

William
William on October 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

Just after the main credits in the film “Psycho” as the camera pans right you can see the Fox Theatre building in the background.

JMSanders
JMSanders on October 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Thank YOU!!! for restoring the link. I was so happy to see the pictures of the Fox…and once again, so sad that it was torn down. Why was nothing done at the time to save it? Who was in charge? I read that the city of Phoenix already owned it. So sad!

JoelWeide
JoelWeide on September 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Restoring link. Thank You!

JMSanders
JMSanders on September 19, 2010 at 3:37 pm

What ever happened to the wonderful black and white photos of the old Fox on the web? I cannot find them anywhere now? It used to be on this website, but now it will not open: http://acmeron.com/puhs/puhs_page_5.htm

What a shame that the Fox was torn down.
What the heck were they thinking?

Many fond memories: I loved it even before we stepped into the theater, that you got to go down the circular ramp into the old J.C.Pennys underground parking garage next door. (gone too) Then a stop at the candy counter. Finally when you stepped into the theater, it was amazing. A wonderland scene of sculpture, paintings and light. I wanted to go sit in the balcony, but my mom said that that was reserved for the “negroes”. I would ask why they got to sit in the best seats in the house.
I got to peek into the projection room one time. What a monstrous and menacing piece of equipment was in that room. A trip to the Fox was a truly special experience for me.

JMS

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 12, 2010 at 11:09 am

Was a nice looking theatre.

ronbo42
ronbo42 on December 3, 2009 at 8:47 am

I’d like to address the ‘lack of caring’ posts on the part of Phoenicians about their past. As a native Arizonan and Phoenician I can say without a doubt that we care deeply about our past and hate seeing it bulldozed so carelessly; unfortunately, Arizonans and Phoenicians are in the minority when it comes to who lives and works here. Phoenix is very much a transient city. Few people are from Phoenix who actually live in Phoenix. People come from all around the country and move in with little to no ties to our state or city.

What happened to the Cine-Capri is an excellent example. There was a HUGE outcry among those of us who remember the Cine-Capri and stood in line for three hours to see Star Wars (because that was the only theater it was showing at). Buisness interests from outside the state and council members from Indiana and Iowa representing the district the Cine-Capri was in pushed the demolition through since they had no past history with the establishment. Neither did the residents in the area who saw it as an eyesore and had never seen a movie there as they just moved here from another state. The Kachina went through similiar turmoil.

My mother worked at the Fox in the fourties and was part of the small fight to save it. That was simply short-sighted councilmen. The wholesale destruction that has happened since then has been wrought by people who grew up in other states. They have no ‘skin in the game’ so to speak. Is it our fault for electing them? Sure, but as I said people with a past here are in the minority.

I live in Tucson now and am thankful we don’t have near the out of town/state issues that Phoenix has. We fought hard to restore our Fox and I and many others I know support it financially and by volunteering.

If you move here from out of state, become vested in Arizona: patronize local businesses, find out about the history, go sight seeing, hike, bike, support local sports venues. We need our historic places just like you need yours wherever you’re from.

looker1208
looker1208 on November 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Wallace and Ladmo stage shows here were the best. I still have the empty Ladmo bag I won here in 1963! One of my favorite memories if The Fox was seeing The Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night and Help there. As The Beatles never did a concert in Phoenix, it was about the closest you could get. We camped outside the theatre the night before Help opened so we could get the best seats. KRIZ even had commemorative tickets printed for the event.

bdlyles
bdlyles on July 24, 2009 at 5:26 am

I agree with many of the comments here about the heritage of downtown Phoenix. I lived in Phoenix for two years and found the area to be so lacking in architectural past. I’m glad the Orpheum was saved, but with so much land elsewhere, I too am surprised that developers were allowed to bulldoze places like the Fox into oblivion without a trace. (I never knew it even existed until I read this.) Downtown Phoenix may have been dying in the 1970s, but tearing down something so beautiful like the Fox takes away part of a unique urban character of a city that you can’t get back.

trainmaster
trainmaster on February 28, 2009 at 11:00 pm

From the pictures, the Fox Phoenix was a beautiful theater which could have been saved! The officials of Phoenix belong in the same catagory as the 1962 City Commission of San Francisco, which lost the greatest theater of all time – the San Francisco Fox – those idots were offered the theater FOR FREE if they just purchase the property. It could have been used for a performing arts center or home of the S.F. Symphony. $1 million dollars – the city thought it was too much! Some ten years later, the city spent over $60,000 for building the Davis Symphony Hall and another 40+ million for building the George Moscone Convention Center – neither facility had the seating capacity of the Fox (5000+). Then in the 1990’s, S.F. had to spend ANOTHER $20 million to fix the acoustics of Davis Symphony Hall; the S.F. Fox was in great shape and had excellent acoustics. Let’s see, $1 million for the Fox versus about $150 for these pieces of junk – what is wrong with S.F.

Phoenix should take a lesson from Oakland (which learned from S.F.’s mistake). When the 4000 seat Oakland Paramount was scheduled to be sold and torn down for a parking lot, the Oakland Symphony jumped in and bought the theater for the same $1 million asking price (which Mann Theaters donated half the cost-same offer as to S.F.) and another $1 million was raised to restore the theater to its glory.
The Oakland Symphony went bankrupt and the City of Oakland took over the operations of the Paramount. Today, it has a large endowment fund.

Another Cinderalla story features another great Oakland palace, the Fox Oakland. Built in 1928 and slightly larger than the Paramount, the Fox closed in 1966. In 1973, an arson fire was set; the insurance fixed the theater. Mann theaters had an auction in 1977 to sell the theaters to a developer to tear it down – it looked like the end for the Fox Oakland! Then, a wealthy elderly woman appeared at the auction and offered the highest bid – she wanted to save the theater because it was where she and her husband met and dated. The
building was sold to Erma Deluchi for $300,000. A few months later, her husband passed away and she lost all interest in rennovating the Fox and re-opening it. Looks like the Fox Oakland was doomed, again.
Question was, when would it be torn down?

Then the City of Oakland planned a revitilization program of its downtown area and need the Fox for performing arts and other venues (the Fox had the deepest state of any bay area place) and they also envisioned opera visiting the Fox. They used eminant domain to purchase the Fox for $3 billion from the Deluchi family. The problem then was the renovation cost – another fire had gutted the floor, the roof was shot and mushrooms were growing inside the sadly delapidated theater. Friends of the Fox Oakland (FOOF) was formed, and the funds were raised – it cost over $60 million to restore the Fox. It re-opened as a theater/performing arts center on February 5, 2009. Below are links to pictures of both theaters….

FOX OAKLAND:

http://www.foxoakland.org/ Friends of Fox Oakland

http://oaklandfox.com/

And the beautiful art deco Paramount, considered the finest in the nation:

View link

Charles S. Lee designed the Fox Phoniex. His most famous theater is the Los Angeles Theater, which he copied after the San Francisco Fox.
Although the Los Angeles is spectacular, it did not compare with the San Francisco Fox – Lee did not have the Fox money to spend. The loss of the Fox San Francisco, the New York Roxy and the Mastbaum in Philadelphia are the tragic loss of 3 of the top theaters in the country.

PHONIEX – take a lesson from Oakland!

Patsy
Patsy on March 9, 2008 at 4:13 pm

It’s been awhile since I visited this theatre link, but I am reminded of the wrong that was done to THIS beautiful art deco theatre in 1975. The folks of Phoenix should hang their hands in shame for destroying this Fox!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 4, 2007 at 5:53 pm

This photo was taken during the demolition in 1975:
http://tinyurl.com/2n4ub3

Patsy
Patsy on November 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Homeboy: It would be interesting to get the answers to the questions you have posed.

Homeboy
Homeboy on November 4, 2007 at 11:07 am

Like most here, I’m surprised that this theater was ground to dust. Although preservation wasn’t what it is today, still there was a nascent movement because of the criminal demolition of New York’s Penn Station in 1964.

But I have several questions to try to get into the heads of the Phoenix City Fathers. Not to justify their actions, but to try to see it as they saw it. What was the state of the Fox at the time it was demolished? Was it sadly in need of repair? If so, did they want to save and repair it, but felt it cost too much? Was there any movement at all, even if tiny, to try to save it? Where there other architecturally-significant buildings (not theaters) that the city also let go about this same time?

Patsy
Patsy on August 14, 2007 at 4:48 am

RobbKCity: You are a wealth of information and I enjoy reading your informative posts. Interesting to read about what could have been the design for the AZ state capitol building. Another missed opportunity that could have stood the test of time! And my hat is off to the City of Kansas City for their theatre respect.

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on August 13, 2007 at 6:43 pm

Correction: I stated that the Pantages Tower Theater in Kansas City was designed by Charles Lee. I am mistaken. The architect was Marcus Priteca.

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on August 13, 2007 at 6:30 pm

Arizona turned down Frank Lloyd Wright’s innovative design for their state capital building. They ended up building a non-descript tower. Had the gone with Wright’s design, they would have the most unique state capital building in the country.

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on August 13, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Nope. They sure didn’t. As a result, Phoenix really only has one grand old movie theater within its city limits, the Orpheum. As a contrast, Kansas City, which is now a smaller city and metro, has 22 theater buildings remaining that were built between 1891 and 1950.

If you include the metro suburban municipalities around Kansas City, there are 29 theaters that were built before 1950. Additionally, 21 of the metro theaters are in use for a variety of purposes, and open to the public. Fifteen of these old metro theaters still being used as movie theaters, event halls, or performance spaces. Fourteen are fully restored venues. Five more are used as churches. Six are being used as commercial space, and one is being renovated for performing arts. Two others still stand, but are vacant and unused.

While Kansas City lost its only theater designed by Charles Lee, the Pantages Tower Theater, it still has theaters designed by Thomas Lamb, John Eberson, the Boller Brothers, Rapp & Rapp, and eccentric innovator Louis Curtiss. At least one example from each of these architects is restored and remains open to the public. There are several Boller theaters here. Seven Boller theaters are accessible by the public; four are restored.

Patsy
Patsy on August 13, 2007 at 5:54 pm

I just viewed the May 12, 2004 post with photos and I just can’t believe my “art deco” eyes! To have demolished this theatre was a true crime! I guess it’s a good thing the bus system didn’t want the land that the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Biltmore Hotel sits on or we wouldn’t have that grand piece of architecture in AZ today!

Patsy
Patsy on August 13, 2007 at 5:47 pm

RobbKCity: As I read your post and got to the part that mentioned “to create a series of off-street bus lanes for the city bus system” I thought to myself….now that’s a new one. Then I read “There were any number of vacant lots they could have done that on instead of tearing down the theater” and felt that the City of Phoenix didn’t do the Fox any favors nor the citizens when they demolished the S. Charles Lee Fox/Phoenix with its 1800 seats and art deco design. Such a shame.

RobbKCity
RobbKCity on August 13, 2007 at 5:09 pm

The theater wasn’t demolished for a new structure, but to create a series of off-street bus lanes for the city bus system. A transit hub in sort of a plaza with side-by-side bus lanes to park the buses with some simple shelters. There were any number of vacant lots they could have done that on instead of tearing down the theater.

Patsy
Patsy on August 13, 2007 at 4:40 am

If anyone from the Phoenix area could tell us why this theatre was brought down, please post. Thanks.

Patsy
Patsy on August 13, 2007 at 4:39 am

Worth repeating……….“Sadly, the Fox Phoenix was ground to dust during its demolition in 1975.