Fox Theatre

710 MacDonald Avenue,
Richmond, CA 94801

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Harriette on July 18, 2013 at 9:00 am

One of the most exciting nights of my childhood was when “The Richmond Story” premiered at the Fox Theatre. There were two searchlights and movie stars and a huge crowd and it was one of the first times I was allowed to stay up after 9!

The Fox is also where I went on Saturdays to watch the Tom Mix and Cisco Kid serials. I saw my first “grownup” movie, The Long Long Trailer there, sitting in the last row of the balcony. When they were driving on the mountain roads, I felt almost as if I was going to fall over the edge!

JohnRice on December 7, 2012 at 1:05 am

Growing up in Richmond I remember the conversion of the Costa into the Fox as well as the old Fox into the UA. I saw lots of movies at the Fox and even though I preferred the UA the Fox was always a pleasant experience. I remember seeing the first CinemaScope film “The Robe” there as well as my first 3-D film “Sangaree”. Sometime around 1957-58 both the UA and Fox closed for a short time due to lack of business, leaving downtown Richmond with the run-down Rio as the only game in town! Fortunately both reopened (with a new one man in the booth agreement from the projectionists union as I recall) and lasted a few more years. Hard to believe that in 1950 there were 8 theatres on McDonald Avenue, from the Rio to the Uptown…and then in just a few years there were none!

larrygoldsmith on June 30, 2012 at 12:04 am

According to the Theatre Historical Society, the Fox Richmond opened April 3, 1952. Carl Moeller, Architect. Seating was 1118.

celaniasdawn on April 13, 2011 at 1:57 am

Going though some old stuff in the basement, I found a copy of the Berkeley Barb newspaper, dated June 1969. The back of the paper had an advertising section, mostly sexual related but what I found was a page of movie theaters open and what they were showing. The Fox had a ad, with a picture of a cartoon fox with its tongue hanging out. Underneath it said, “Now showing Adult movies starting at 9:00 a.m., we do hope that you come” and underneath that was a picture of a man waist down with an erection. When I saw this I laughed so hard, I didn’t know that the Fox showed those. Alongside of that was a ad from the Fox Oakland, showing “All the loving couples” with a bare breasted woman, and alongside of that, a ad for the T&D showing a movie called “Love Triangle” with 3 women bare chested. Amazing! I wish I could post these somehow for all to see, but the explicit photos may offend some.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 10, 2008 at 4:21 am

During WWII, when Richmond’s population boomed due to the development of the Kaiser shipyards, photographer Dorothea Lange took hundreds of photos of the city. A large selection of these pictures are now available in digital form from the Online Archive of California. While most of the photos were related to the shipyards and their workers, a number depicted McDonald Avenue and, among those, a few of the street’s movie houses appeared.

So far I haven’t seen any photos of the Costa/Fox in the collection, but there are few pictures of the earlier T&D/Fox Theatre down the street, before it became the United Artists, and its neighboring theatre, called the Studio during the war but later renamed the Crest (I can’t find the Studio/Crest listed at Cinema Treasures.) There are also a couple of close views of the State Theatre.

sagriffin on January 9, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Ken, thanks for the link to the great page of pics… it is so long ago, and the city has changed so damned much.

Hey Trainmaster, could you contact me about pics of the old Fox? — — Would love get a few, glad to lay some scratch on ya for copies the same. My Great Uncle, Dad and Grandfather all worked the trains at one time or another. The only real railroad man was my Great Uncle E.L. tho; he ultimately retired from the railroad as a brakeman. My Dad and Grandfather were both gamblers. As a kid, we wandered down to the tracks and the day all the time to play. Hell, lucky to still be here. One of my best pals made the front page of The Independent in ‘64. He and another kid got stuck when the tracks switched, you know the rest of that story… not good.

Cortez… might’ve been the only grade school in the country with a freeway running thru it. Our version of a river I suppose.

Happy New Year all.

S.A. Griffin

kencmcintyre on January 9, 2008 at 2:45 am

There are a few photos of the Fox on this site:

trainmaster on November 10, 2007 at 9:19 am

I have several exterior color pictures of the Fox Theater at 812 MacDonald and one black and white of the auditorium

cmaki on July 25, 2006 at 4:14 pm

I remember seeing Love Me Tender with Elvis back in 1956 at the Fox. We lived at Easter Hill, on S. 26th St in 1954 then moved to S 28th St across from Cortez School, we lived there til 1957 then moved to Wisconsin. We roamed all over Easter Hill in the 50’s. Walked to the Richmond Plunge to swim, Nichol Park cause it has the round slide. Anyone remember Mrs Long or Mr Brown, teachers at Cortez? Summers were filled with activies at the school, conducted by Paul and Shirley and Cecelia…..Take me back to those wonderful times …to be young again. Carol Maki

sagriffin on November 30, 2005 at 2:03 pm

The Fox in Richmond was my great escape. Where I saw Elvis the King, and Jerry Lewis reinvented my young world as laughter. 35 cents, always given to me by my Grandmother who owned and managed an apartment building at 4th & Bissel, right up the street from my Aunt “Nellie’s Market”. I remember going to The Fox at least until 1966, when we left Richmond and moved to San Leandro. At the same time that plans were being made to transform Granada Junior High into JFK. That place changed my life. I have spent the last 30 years working as a professional actor. I would sure love to have a picture of this place — if anyone has one, please contact me. A real field of dreams. I also hear that Easter Hill has been razed. S. 26th St. was home.

Georob on April 12, 2005 at 7:24 am

This theatre closed around ‘64 or '65. I remember as a kid walking out of the JC Penney store across the street and seeing “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” on the marquee and wanting to see it. But by this time it was not considered not a good place anymore for a family to go see a movie and we ended up going to the Grand Lake in Oakland instead.

I believe it reopened for a brief time in the late 60’s as an adult movie house and might have also been a storefront church before it was finally demolished. There are houses on the site today.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 14, 2004 at 11:32 pm

The architect responsible for the re-modelling of the Costa Theater into the Fox Theater in 1952 was Carl G. Moeller.

JimRankin on May 24, 2004 at 5:32 pm

The mention of the “Skouras-style” in the previous post may be puzzling to some if they are now aware of the entire ‘style’ that the owner of a chain of theatres had promoted in the 1940s and 50s, and this ‘style’ is nowhere better explored in text and many b/w photos than in the ANNUAL of the Theatre Historical Soc. for 1987 by the late Preston J. Kaufmann. Within its 44 pages are dozens of photos of the interiors of theatres/cinemas that sported the almost trademark blend of formed aluminum sheeting shaped in sweeping forms and hand tinted to adorn the walls in contrast to the rich drapery treatments typical of that era. This publication is as much a tour into architecture as theatres.
To obtain any available Back Issue of either “Marquee” or of its ANNUALS, simply go to the web site of the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA at:
and notice on their first page the link “PUBLICATIONS: Back Issues List” and click on that and you will be taken to their listing where they also give ordering details. The “Marquee” magazine is 8-1/2x11 inches tall (‘portrait’) format, and the ANNUALS are also soft cover in the same size, but in the long (‘landscape’) format, and are anywhere from 26 to 40 pages. Should they indicate that a publication is Out Of Print, then it may still be possible to view it via Inter-Library Loan where you go to the librarian at any public or school library and ask them to locate which library has the item by using the Union List of Serials, and your library can then ask the other library to loan it to them for you to read or photocopy. [Photocopies of most THSA publications are available from University Microforms International (UMI), but their prices are exorbitant.]

Note: Most any photo in any of their publications may be had in large size by purchase; see their ARCHIVE link. You should realize that there was no color still photography in the 1920s, so few theatres were seen in color at that time except by means of hand tinted renderings or post cards, thus all the antique photos from the Society will be in black and white, but it is quite possible that the Society has later color images available; it is best to inquire of them.

Should you not be able to contact them via their web site, you may also contact their Executive Director via E-mail at:
Or you may reach them via phone or snail mail at:
Theatre Historical Soc. of America
152 N. York, 2nd Floor York Theatre Bldg.
Elmhurst, ILL. 60126-2806 (they are about 15 miles west of Chicago)

Phone: 630-782-1800 or via FAX at: 630-782-1802 (Monday through Friday, 9AM—4PM, CT)

JohnRice on May 23, 2004 at 5:21 am

The Fox was a Fox West Coast Theatre at 710 McDonald Avenue, formerly the Costa. Due to the Consent Decree in the early 1950’s, FWC had to relinquish their lease on the other Richmond Fox (Fox-California) at 823 McDonald. That theatre became the United Artists (UA) and the Costa was completely remodeled (Skouras-style) and reopened as the Fox on April 3, 1952. Seating capacity was 1118 in 1950. Along with the UA, the Fox closed down briefly in about 1957 leaving Richmond, population roughly 100,000 at the time, with no first run theatres. Only the last run flea pit Rio was left on McDonald Avenue. Both the Fox and UA soon reopened and lasted for a few more years, until the early 1960’s. As I remember, it was the UA rather than the Fox that was converted into a Woolworth’s (as mentioned above by Garrett Murphy).