17 W. Congress Street,
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The Fox Theatre was built from August, 1929 to 1930, designed by architect M. Eugene Durfee for movies and vaudville. The theatre was going to be named the Tower, but in September, 1929, Fox West Coast Theatres acquired the property. The Fox Theatre opened on April 11, 1930, with 1,300 seats and the film “Chasing Rainbows” starring Bessie Love. This beautiful movie palace’s style is a unique blend of southwestern and Art Deco. There are Art Deco, Mayan, Egyptian, and Native American inspired decorations.
In 1974, due to competition from TV, multiplexes, and drive-ins, the Fox Theatre closed. The decades long closure did not dim the memories of those who once came here. Various efforts to revive the theatre were unsuccessful, but luckily the property was spared the wrecking ball. In 1997, the Fox Revival Committee began to look to ways to save the theatre. They organised the non-profit Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation. The foundation purchased the Fox Theatre in the Spring 2000. Thirteen million dollars was spent on the theatre’s rehabilitation and restoration.
The Fox Theatre was extensively restored. The original 1930 ticket booth had been modernised in 1940 and been replaced in 1956, but was recreated and today serves as a ‘will-call’ booth. EverGreene Painting Studio of New York restored the murals. The walls of the lobby and auditorium were repainted to their original colors. The lobby’s original terrazo floor was restored. The original carpet was replicated. Original chair fabric (with the same Art Deco pattern as the original chairs at Philadelphia’s Boyd Theatre) was discovered by a volunteer in a balcony seat and was replicated.
A building was taken over to the west at 27 West Congress Street. That building has ticket windows, concessions and rest rooms that connect to all levels (lower lobby, orchestra and balcony) of the historic theatre.
The Fox Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The movie palace reopened on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2005. As of 2007, the movie screen is 38 feet wide and 16 feet six inches tall. The second 4 manual Wurlitzer console from the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre was installed in the Fox Theatre and organ pipes from the Hilbert Circle Theatre, Indianapolis, IN. Restoration of the organ was completed in April 2019.
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