Fox Theater

1116-1128 Main Street,
Stevens Point, WI 54481

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FOX Theatre; Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

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The original name of this historic theater is the Grand Opera House. Built by G. F. Andrae between 1893-1894, the vaudeville/stage show theater closed in 1915.

In 1920, it was reopened as the Majestic Theater and remained that way until 1928 when the Wisconsin Amusment Co. (now Fox Corp.) took over the operation of the theater and changed its name to the Fox Theater.

Remaining popular for the next six decades, the theater was last operated by Rogers Cinemas. It was kept mostly the same way, but in 1982, a previously added section of the theater was removed. Shortly afterwards, in 1985, the movie house was closed and has never reopened.

A number of groups have tried to find a use for the old Fox, but so far they have been unsuccessful.

Contributed by Ed Wilke

Recent comments (view all 149 comments)

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on January 28, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Lots of recent activity in the local newspaper:
View link Comments are welcome.

www.onelist.com/group/WisconsinTheatres

edwilke
edwilke on February 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm

The unofficial vote count is Yes 2,597 No 1,925… Looks like the Fox may get its stage back some time soon. It’s hard watching a dream come true when I now live so far away from the Fox.

wyzz7
wyzz7 on September 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Is anything happening with this theatre? Those articles are years old, and the construction blog hasn’t been updated since 2009. Does anyone know anything about it’s current standing?

144511
144511 on May 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I am a high school student who is doing a local history project on the Fox theater. I have got a lot of basic information on its history however I would appreciate any personal stories or information on the protest in the 50’s so please post if you can help. Thanks!

LouRugani
LouRugani on August 14, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Demolition could start this week on the former CenterPoint MarketPlace property, and that means time is running out on a renovation of the Fox Theater.

The city’s Community Development Authority on Monday hired Chicago-based Meridian Industrial Service Corp. to demolish the downtown mall for $278,000, $72,000 less than the lowest estimate, which was between $350,000 to $500,000 to tear down the middle of the empty building. The demolition will leave an empty space, which could allow the back of the Fox Theater to be restored. The back was removed from the theater to make space for the mall when it was built in the 1980s.

But Mayor Andrew Halverson said there is other interest in that soon-to-be-empty space. “(The owners of the theater are) going to have to move quick for us to reserve any space. We cannot just wait and not do anything because there’s potential they might do something.”

The possibility of restoring the over-century-old Fox Theater on Main Street had been used by the city and the Sanders family, who owns the building, as one of the selling points for borrowing $5.9 million to redevelop the mall area.

The Sanders family was working with a committee to restore the theater, but has yet to announce definite plans for the building. Committee spokesman Gerry McKenna said talks had come to a standstill and that the committee was waiting to hear from the Sanders family on what they wanted to do with the theater.

edwilke
edwilke on October 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

The mall demo is moving along, I added a picture on my Flicker account. You can finally see the back of the Fox Theater from Center Point Dr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/edwilke/

heritagepubstpt
heritagepubstpt on May 8, 2013 at 2:04 am

The Fox Theater was donated to the Arts Alliance of Portage County on February 1, 2013

edwilke
edwilke on May 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

From the “Arts Alliance of Portage County” Facebook page, Febuary 2, 2013…

Gerard McKenna, community volunteer and former Dean of the College of Fine Arts & Communication at UWSP, has agreed to serve as the Fox Theatre Steering Committee Chairperson.

“I look forward to being part of the new possibilities this will present to our community”, said Gerard McKenna. The planning for the future of this great Portage County historic and architectural landmark will be a long process which includes addressing the building’s current condition, completing a historic structures report, and securing renovation funding from various sources including grants and private donations.

A fund supporting the Fox Theatre, LLC and its mission to renovate and operate the Fox has been created at the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin, 1501 Clark Street, P.O. Box 968, Stevens Point, WI 54481. Donations are being accepted at this time.

edwilke
edwilke on November 25, 2013 at 4:39 am

The first pictures of the auditorium have been released and printed in the newspaper. This is the first time the public has seen it since it’s closing in 1985. (I’m adding them to the photos on here.)

LouRugani
LouRugani on January 21, 2014 at 12:11 am

January 20, 2014: Members of the Fox on Main committee have preliminary results to a study that found the theater is in better shape than many had originally thought. A structural study of the historic Fox theater on Main Street exceeded expectations of both Fox board president Greg Wright and members of the Minneapolis-based structural engineering firm Meyer Borgman Johnson, who conducted the study. Wright said although the structural study that started in November isn’t completed yet, initial results are that the theater, which closed its doors in 1986, is in better shape than anyone anticipated. “When the structural engineer came here, his initial investigations implied that the building was well taken care of,” Wright said. “The Sanders family … although (the theater) hasn’t been used for over 30 years … did a good job of taking care of the building so that it is not like a building that’s been vacant for 30 years should be.” In August, the title to the theater transferred from the theater’s most recent owners, the Sanders family, which had owned the theater when it closed, to the newly created Fox on Main LLC, giving city leaders and downtown business owners hope that the theater is one step closer to returning to its former glory. Wright said the theater still needs substantial rehabilitation before anything can be done with the building. The Fox group was given $5,000 from the city of Stevens Point in November for the structural study of the over 100-year-old building and has started raising money it plans to use to get the theater open for business. Local photographer John Hartman, who also is a member of the Fox group board, recently put two panoramic photos of the interior of the theater as it exists on display next to the theater entrance in downtown Stevens Point. The photos show the green and red seats and walls that decorate the theater and the current condition of the ceiling and floors. “Chances are, if you are under 40, you’ve never seen the inside of the Fox,” Hartman said. “These photographs are the first views the public has seen in over a quarter century, and hopefully will become part of the storied history of the Fox as this project moves forward.” Wright said the group also is looking into ways to get the community involved as the structural study comes to a close. “We’re in the process of trying to create some community forums both with specific targeted members of the community, like the arts groups in the community, and then some open forums with those who have an interest in giving input,” he said. The group recently adopted an action plan to begin studying how the theater could be used and function as a business. The group also is looking for volunteers and someone interested in becoming a board member as it works toward opening the theater.

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