Spokane’s 21st Century Fox Theater

Spokane’s 21st Century Fox Theater


RISING FROM STREET LEVEL IN GRACEFUL SIMPLICITY, WITH ITS THIN STRAIGHT LINES AND ORNATE, FLOWING FLAT SURFACES, IS A BUILDING KNOWN SIMPLY AS “THE FOX.” IT’S ONE OF HANDFUL OF HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT BUILDINGS IN DOWNTOWN SPOKANE, WHERE THANKS TO AN ELEGANT BLEND OF ARTISTIC STYLE AND FUNCTION IT INSTANTLY, WHEN OPENED, BECAME AN INDELIBLE PIECE OF THE COMMUNITY’S FABRIC. IN THE TIME OF THE DEPRESSION, MOVIE THEATERS ALL OVER THE COUNTRY PLAYED A SPECIAL ROLE. BECAUSE IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE, SOME OF WHOM WERE GOING THROUGH VERY DIFFICULT TIMES, TO LOSE FOR A MOMENT, THE REALITIES OF THE DAILY LIFE, AND GET ENVELOPED IN THE MYSTICAL WORLD OF HOLLYWOOD. THE FOX IS A LIVING MEMORIAL TO SPOKANE IN THE 30S AND BEYOND. THIS IS JUST AN AMAZING PLACE. IT IS NOT ONLY A SPECTACULAR ARCHITECTURAL WONDER AND VERY MUCH A PART OF SPOKANE’S HISTORY AND THIS COUNTRY’S HISTORY BUT IT IS JUST A WONDERFUL PLACE TO MAKE MUSIC AND A WONDERFUL PLACE FOR THE SYMPHONY, BUT THERE ARE JUST SO MANY REASONS TO BE PROUD OF THIS AND SO MANY REASONS THAT IT IS IMPORTANT. I MEAN JUST FRANKLY FUNDAMENTALLY PROFOUNDLY IMPORTANT THAT THIS HOUSE BE AN ACTIVE CONCERT HOUSE FOR THE NORTHWEST AND SPECIFICALLY FOR SPOKANE. AS WITH ANY GRAND OLD BUILDING WHOSE HISTORY SPANS OVER 7 DECADES AND ACROSS TWO CENTURIES, THE STORY BEHIND SPOKANE’S FOX THEATER PLAYS OUT LIKE AN OSCAR WINNING MOVIE… PACKED WITH GREAT PERFORMANCES, ARTISTRY, INNOVATION, THRILLS, ROMANCE, CONFLICT AND ULTIMATELY THE PERFECT ENDING… AND NOW, ENCORE PERFOMANCE AS SPOKANE’S 21ST CENTURY FOX… TO RECOUNT THE TALE OF SPOKANE’S FOX THEATER WE MUST REWIND OVER 75 YEARS TO THE EARLY STAGES OF WHAT WAS A BLEAK PERIOD IN OUR NATIONS HISTORY, “THE GREAT DEPRESSION.” LIKE MOST COMMUNITIES, SPOKANE WAS NOT IMMUNE TO THE ECONOMIC DESPAIR AND PERSONAL HARDSHIPS THAT FOLLOWED THE CRASH OF THE STOCK MARKET IN OCTOBER OF 1929… BY 1930 THE FULL IMPACT OF THE DEPRESSION WAS BEING FELT BY ALL. YET, DESPITE THE DOOM AND GLOOM OF THE TIME, THE COLLECTIVE SPIRIT OF THE CITY AS WELL AS THE ENTIRE INLAND NORTHWEST WAS ABOUT TO GET A MUCH NEEDED BOOST FROM AN UNLIKELY SOURCE… HIS NAME, WILLIAM FOX… A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE MOGUL WHO IN THE FALL OF 1928 PICKED SPOKANE AS THE SITE FOR A NEW FOX THEATER… AT THE TIME THERE WERE ABOUT 14 MOVIE THEATRES HERE IN SPOKANE. MOST OF THEM WERE SMALL. THEY WERE BUILT FOR VAUDEVILLE AND SILENT MOVIES. SO IN THE LATE 20S, EARLY 30S WHEN TALKING MOVIES CAME INTO BEING THERE WEREN’T THESE BIG DRAMATIC THEATERS. WILLIAM FOX WAS THE HEAD OF 20TH CENTURY FOX, IS WHAT IT BECAME. IN THOSE DAYS IT WAS KNOWN AS WEST COAST FOX ENTERTAINMENT AND HE BUILT MOVIE THEATRES ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO SHOW OFF FOX MOVIES. SO IN THE EARLY DAYS IF YOU WENT TO A FOX MOVIE YOU SAW IT AT A FOX THEATRE. FORTUNATELY, THE FOX THEATER PLANNED FOR SPOKANE WOULD BE NO ORDINARY THEATER … WITH A PRICE TAG OF ONE MILLION DOLLARS WILLIAM FOX ANNOUNCED THAT THIS MOVIE PALACE WAS GOING TO BE ONE OF THE FINEST OF ITS SIZE ON THE WEST COAST… IT WAS A LOT OF MONEY FOR A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL TO INVEST IN SPOKANE AND I THINK THAT SPEAKS A LOT ABOUT FOX AND HIS VISION, NOT JUST FOR SPOKANE BUT FOR AMERICA. I’M SURE THAT IT WAS SELF SERVING IN A WAY. HE WAS BUILDING A MOVIE THEATRE BUT HE ALSO, I THINK, UNDERSTOOD THAT THESE KINDS OF BUILDING WERE PART OF THE CULTURE OF A COMMUNITY. SOON AFTER CONSTRUCTION BEGAN THERE WAS LITTLE DOUBT THE NEW FOX THEATRE, AS PROMISED, WAS GOING TO PROVIDE SPOKANE WITH SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY. WELL THE THEATRE WAS DESIGNED BY ROBERT REAMER WHO IS A SEATTLE ARCHITECT. REAMER GOT HIS START IN THE EARLIER PART OF THE 20TH CENTURY BY DESIGNING THE OLD FAITHFUL INN, AND MANY OF THE OTHER BUILDINGS IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. THIS WAS AN EXTREMELY MODERN BUILDING AND SPOKANE DIDN’T REALLY KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT, HOW TO TAKE IT WHEN IT WAS BUILT BECAUSE IT WASN’T BRICK AND IT WASN’T FACED IN TERRA COTTA. THIS WAS ONE OF THE FIRST POURED-IN-PLACE CONCRETE BUILDINGS. IT WAS WHAT THEY CALLED A CONTINUOUS POUR SO THERE ARE NO EXTERNAL SEAMS IN THE BUILDING. THE BUILDING FROM THE OUTSIDE IS QUITE STARK AND THAT’S BY DESIGN. ART DECO INCORPORATED THE DESIGN OF THE BUILDING IN AS ORNAMENTATION ITSELF. SO ON THE EXTERIOR, ALL OF THE EAGLES AND THE MOUNTAIN GOATS AND THE MOUNTAINS AND THE BIG BUTTERFLIES THAT ARE ON THE MONROE STREET SIDE, THOSE WERE ALL POURED AS THEY WENT SO THAT THE ORNAMENTATION WAS A INTEGRAL PART OF THE BUILDING. WHILE THE APPROACH TO THE BUILDINGS EXTERIOR WAS SLEEK AND UNDERSTATED THE SAME COULD HARDLY BE SAID OF THE THEATER’S LAVISH INTERIOR… THE ARTWORK IN HERE WAS DESIGNED BY A MAN NAMED ANTHONY HEINSBERGEN AND HE WAS ONE OF HOLLYWOOD’S BEST INTERIOR DESIGNERS. HE HAD A GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH WILLIAM FOX. FOX USED HIM A LOT IN MANY OF HIS THEATRES. THE ARTIST’S SON CAME UP SEVERAL TIMES AND WALKED US THROUGH AND TALKED ABOUT COLORS THAT HIS FATHER HAD USED. HE THINKS THAT IF YOU START ON THE LOBBY LEVEL DOWN BELOW US, WE ARE UNDER THE WATER AND AS YOU MOVE UP THROUGH THE THEATRE YOU MOVE THROUGH THE WATER COLUMN AND THEN ON TO THE LAND. AND THERE ARE CLOUDS AT THE LOBBY LEVEL THAT GO ALL THE WAY AROUND THE MEZZANINE ON THE SAME LEVEL. SO ON THE MEZZANINE WE’VE MOVED UP ONTO THE LAND AND THERE ARE CASTLES, AND THESE STORY BOOK CLOUDS LIKE THE BOOKS THAT WE READ AS KIDS, RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS. AND THEN AS WE MOVE INTO THE BALCONY AND THE AUDITORIUM WE’RE UP IN THE TREES. AND THE AUDITORIUM IS DOMINATED BY THIS 50-FT WIDE SUNBURST THAT RADIATES LIGHT OUT OVER THIS FOREST OF TREES. IT IS QUITE ELEGANT. THE WOW FACTOR GENERATED BY THE THEATER’S ARTISTIC ELEGANCE WAS JUST THE BEGINNING. THE FOX WAS ALSO BILLED AS A STATE OF THE ART THEATER THAT WOULD BECOME THE CITY’S MOST MODERN BUILDING… WELL, THE FOX WAS AT THE TIME A MAJOR INNOVATION, A MAJOR MOVE TO BRING AHM SOUND ON FILM TO SPOKANE. FOX HAD BOUGHT A NUMBER OF PATENTS FROM VARIOUS SOUND PIONEERS. AND ERPI AND SOME OF THE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS THAT FOLLOWED ALLOWED FOX TO COMBINE PATENTS TO PULL TOGETHER A SOUND SYSTEM THAT ALLOWED VERY PRECISE IMAGING ON THE FILM OF THE SOUND, SO THAT YOU COULD CAPTURE THAT SOUND AND PLAY IT BACK IN SYNCHRONY. THE ACOUSTICS OF THE HALL WAS REALLY QUITE UNIQUE AT THE TIME. THE STAGE INCLUDED A LOT OF INNOVATIONS. FIRST OF ALL THERE WERE THREE ELECTRIC CURTAIN PULLS WHICH THEN COULD BE DONE FROM THE PROJECTION BOOTH OR FROM ON STAGE. IT ALSO HAD A MULTI-CHANNEL WESTINGHOUSE DIMMER SYSTEM THAT WAS TWO UNITS. ONE DOWN ON STAGE AND ONE UP IN THE PROJECTION BOOTH. AND THEY WORKED TOGETHER IN TANDEM, WHICH WAS KIND OF UNUSUAL FOR THE TIME. OF COURSE THE AIR-CONDITIONING, THAT WAS RELATIVELY NEW. PEOPLE FOR A YEAR AND A HALF PRECEDING THE BUILDING OF THE FOX, WERE GOING OVER TO SEATTLE TO FEEL THAT KIND OF AIR CONDITIONING AND ALSO TO HEAR THE TALKIES. THE FIRST OF THE SYSTEMS INSTALLED THERE, WE HAVE IT AS A YORK SYSTEM, THAT WAS A RATHER AMAZING SYSTEM FOR THE TIME. PEOPLE WOULD LINE UP AROUND THE BLOCK THERE JUST TO SEE INSIDE THE BUILDING TO SEE HOW THAT COLD AIR WAS PRODUCED. FROM ITS UNDERSTATED YET HANDSOME ARCHITECTURE OUTSIDE TO ITS ALLURING ARTISTRY AND DAZZLING TECHNOLOGY INSIDE, THE CITY’S LARGEST THEATER WAS NEARING COMPLETION BY LATE SUMMER OF 1931… I GREW UP HERE IN SPOKANE DURING THE DEPRESSION YEARS AND WE LIVED UP ON GRANDVIEW HILL AND WE COULD OVERLOOK THE CITY. AND I REMEMBER MY DAD POINTED OUT THE FOX LETTERS THAT WERE BEING PUT UP ON THE FOX THEATER, AND THAT WAS ADDED TO OUR SPOKANE VIEW. AFTER NEARLY A YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION AND THOUSANDS OF YARDS OF CONCRETE, SPOKANE’S BRAND NEW 2300 SEAT MOVIE PALACE WAS READY FOR SHOWTIME… AS ANTICIPATED THE GRAND OPENING ON SEPTEMBER 3RD 1931 WOULD BE AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER… STARTING PROMPTLY AT 7PM THE FESTIVITIES BEGAN WITH A PARADE OF STARS FROM THE DAVENPORT HOTEL TO THE FOX. AMONG THE HOLLYWOOD NOTABLES WERE GEORGE O’BRIEN, ANITA PAGE & MITZIE GREEN… FOLLOWING A BRIEF OUTSIDE CEREMONY TO DEDICATE THE BUILDING, THE CELEBRATION MOVED INSIDE, WHERE LUCKY TICKET HOLDERS WERE TREATED TO A NIGHT OF ENTERTAINMENT, INCLUDING THE NATIONAL PREMIERE OF FOX STUDIO’S LATEST FEATURE FILM “MERELY MARY ANN,” STARRING JANET GAYNOR AND CHARLES FARRELL… TO THIS DAY THE 1931 DEBUT OF THE FOX REMAINS ONE OF THE MORE MEMORABLE EVENTS IN SPOKANE HISTORY… WELL IT WAS EXCITING BECAUSE THE INTERSECTION WAS CROWDED WITH PEOPLE. AND GOING INTO THE STREETS EVEN, BUT THERE WAS HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE THERE AND IT WAS AN EXCITING EVENT. THERE WERE KLIEG LIGHTS WASHING THE SKY ALL THE TIME. AH, THERE WERE BIG CROWDS STANDING ALONG THE STREET, AND AH, AS I REMEMBER IT, WHEN THEY OPENED THE FOX, THEY ANNOUNCED THAT THERE WOULD BE A BIG RED CARPET SORT OF WELCOMING TO THE STARS. AH, I WAS PARTICULARLY INTERESTED WHEN THESE OPEN CARS WOULD DRIVE BY, AND THE YOUNG LADY WHO PLAYED ORPHAN ANNIE IN THE MOVIES, MITZI GREEN STARTED TO COME BY AND I SAW HER AND HER DOG SANDY WAS SITTING THERE AND SO I RAN AWAY FROM MY PARENTS, JUMPED UP ON THE RUNNING BOARD, AND THEY CHASED ME DOWN THE STREET TRYING TO GET ME OFF. THAT WAS MY FIRST INTRODUCTION TO THE FOX. I WAS SO EXCITED, AND I WAS AN ONLY CHILD, AND MOTHER AND DADDY HAD THIS LITTLE STORE, AND AH, SO THEY DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD GO. THE OPENING NIGHT, IT WAS A MOVIE AND VAUDEVILLE. AND SO WE GOT THERE EARLY AND AH, GOT TICKETS, AND IT WAS REALLY SO MUCH FUN. EVERYBODY THAT COULD BE THERE WAS THERE, BECAUSE THIS IS, YOU KNOW, YOU DON’T BUILD A BUILDING, ESPECIALLY A BEAUTIFUL BUILDING LIKE THAT VERY OFTEN. FOLLOWING THE GLITZ AND AWE GENERATED BY OPENING NIGHT, THE FOX THEATRE QUICKLY BECAME A SPECIAL GATHERING PLACE FOR THE COMMUNITY. WHETHER IT WAS TO SEE THE BEST OF HOLLYWOOD ON THE SILVER SCREEN OR ONE OF THE GIANTS OF 20TH CENTURY MUSIC LIVE ON STAGE COURTESY OF THE COMMUNITY CONCERT SERIES, THE FOX EXPERIENCE, FOR ALL WHO CAME, WOULD LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION… WELL IN THE BEGINNING, WHEN YOU CAME TO THE MOVIES YOU WOULD GET A LIVE VAUDEVILLE SHOW, STAGE SHOW THEY CALLED IT, THEN YOU WOULD GET A NEWS REEL, THEN YOU WOULD GET THE FIRST HALF OF YOUR FEATURE FILM, AND THEN AT INTERMISSION THE PIPE ORGAN WOULD PLAY AND THEN YOU WOULD GET THE SECOND HALF OF YOUR MOVIE. THE VAUDEVILLE PART DIDN’T LAST VERY LONG, I THINK WITHIN 6 TO 8 MONTHS THE VAUDEVILLE PART WAS GONE. THE ’30S AH, WE DIDN’T HAVE TELEVISION OF COURSE AND AH, THE SATURDAY RITUAL OF KIDS GOING TO MOVIES WAS AN ESTABLISHED PART OF THE WEEK, AND THERE MUST BE AT LEAST 11 THEATERS IN DOWNTOWN SPOKANE IN THAT ERA. BUT THE LARGEST, THE COOLEST, BOTH IN TEMPERATURE AND IN STYLE WAS THE FOX. AND TO COME IN THIS GREAT CAVERNOUS THEATER AS IT SEEMED TO US, AND WATCH, YOU KNOW, WHATEVER MOVIE IT WAS, “DAWN PATROL”, OR SOMETHING. AH, WAS A THRILL, AND I’VE NEVER FORGOTTEN IT. THERE WAS SOMETHING ABOUT THE BUILDING THAT JUST MADE YOU WANT TO BE THERE, ALL THE BIG EXCITING THINGS YOU KNOW, TOOK PLACE AT THE FOX THEATER. THE BIGGEST ONE I THINK THAT TO ME AS A PIANIST WAS PADEREWSKI, AND HE WAS THIS WONDERFUL OLD GUY WHO HAD BEEN A GREAT PIANIST IN POLAND AND AH, MOTHER AND DADDY HAD THIS LITTLE STORE IN MOUNT HOPE AND THEY COULDN’T AFFORD TO GO AND GET ME THERE, SO I HAD TO GO BY MYSELF. THEY GOT ME A TICKET IN THE FRONT ROW, PRACTICALLY. I REMEMBER SHIRLEY TEMPLE’S BIRTHDAY IS APRIL 23. AND ON HER BIRTHDAY UM, I DON’T REMEMBER HOW OLD I WAS. UM THEY SHOWED HER FILM, I THINK IT WAS THE “LITTLE COLONEL” AND THEN THEY HAD BIRTHDAY CAKE OUT IN THE LOBBY AND EVERYBODY GOT SOME BIRTHDAY CAKE. I WAS LUCKY TO BE ABLE TO GROW UP IN THAT TIME AND SEE THE FOX IN ITS HEYDAY. I HAD LONG BEEN ENAMORED OF OPERA, BUT I ONLY HEARD IT ON THE RADIO. THE TEXACO BROADCAST IT ON SATURDAY MORNINGS. SO AT ANY RATE I HAD A GREAT LOVE FOR THE OPERA BUT HAD NEVER SEEN ONE. AND LA TRAVIATA CAME TO THE FOX AND SO I SAW MY FIRST OPERA. AND THEN THE NEXT THING THAT I SAW THERE WAS PROFESSIONAL THEATER ARSENIC AND OLD LACE WITH THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST, BORIS KARLOFF ETC. THE ONLY WAY WE HAD ANY ACCESS TO THAT SORT OF THING WAS THROUGH THE FOX. WHEN I CAME HERE IN ’42 DURING THE WAR, I WAS LIVING WITH 3 OTHER GALS. WE SHARED AN APARTMENT, AND EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT, WE CAME TO THE FOX THEATER TO WATCH THE SHOW AND AH BECAUSE IT WAS DURING THE WAR YEARS AND A LOT OF THE GALS HAD DATES IT WAS USUALLY CROWDED. WE’D GO ACROSS TO THE CANDY PLACE; I THINK IT WAS MATTHEW’S CANDY COMPANY. THEY MADE THE BEST HOMEMADE FUDGE YOU EVER ATE SO WE’D EACH BUY A SACK FULL, SIT THERE AND EAT IT BEFORE THE SHOW WAS OVER. I WAS A DOORMAN. IT WAS A VERY VERY EXCITING PLACE TO WORK. I HAD A HAT, AND THE PANTS WERE GRAY WITH A RED STRIPE ALONG THE SIDE, AND THE JACKET WAS OF MAROON MATCHING THE STRIPE, BUT YES, OH YES, YOU FELT GOOD SAYING “I WORK AT THE FOX THEATER.” THROUGHOUT THE WAR YEARS SPENDING AN EVENING ENJOYING A MOVIE OR A LIVE STAGE SHOW AT THE FOX, FOR MANY, SERVED AS A MUCH NEEDED DISTRACTION FOR MANY … ONE SHOW IN PARTICULAR WOULD TURN OUT TO BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST EVENTS IN THE THEATER’S HISTORY. ON JUNE 15TH 1943 THE FOX WELCOMED HOME 18 YEAR OLD SINGING SENSATION PATRICE MUNSEL, WHO JUST RECENTLY BECAME THE YOUNGEST SINGER EVER SIGNED TO STAR AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA. BORN AND RAISED IN SPOKANE UNTIL THE AGE OF 15 WHEN SHE LEFT FOR NEW YORK, MUNSEL’S HIGHLY ANTICIPATED HOMECOMING CONCERT WAS A MAGICAL MOMENT FOR BOTH THE COMMUNITY AS WELL AS THE PERFORMER HERSELF… I HAD JUST SUNG WITH THE MET ORCHESTRA AND THEY HAD INVITED ME TO COME HOME TO DO A CONCERT AND I WAS THRILLED… IT WAS AN AMAZING DAY FOR ME TO RETURN TO SPOKANE DOING WHAT I LOVE TO DO SO MUCH AND WHAT I’D ALWAYS KNOWN I WAS GOING TO DO. AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU I WAS SO PREPARED FOR THIS. I HAD WORKED SO HARD STUDYING VOICE, LEARNING FRENCH & ITALIAN. I KNEW 9 OPERAS. THIS IS WHAT I KNEW I WAS MEANT TO DO AND I HATE TO SAY THAT I DIDN’T HAVE A NERVE IN MY BODY BUT I DIDN’T. I WAS READY FOR THIS WONDERFUL MOMENT AND TO HAVE THIS WONDERFUL MOMENT AT THE FOX THEATER IN SPOKANE WITH A SPOKANE AUDIENCE, WELL YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW EXCITING THAT WOULD BE. IT WAS A THRILLING, THRILLING MOMENT THAT I HAD PREPARED ALL MY LIFE FOR. ACCORDING TO THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW PATRICE MUNSEL’S HOMECOMING CONCERT “ACHIEVED A TRIUMPH LONG TO BE REMEMBERED.” YET, THIS RENOWNED, INTERNATIONAL STAR WOULD GRACE THE STAGE OF THE FOX TWICE MORE OVER THE NEXT 11 YRS… AS THE THEATER MARCHED OUT OF THE 40’S AND INTO THE 1950’S IT SEEMED AS THOUGH GREAT PERFORMANCES OF ALL KINDS WERE BECOMING COMMON PLACE AT THE FOX. A CASE IN POINT OCCURRED IN 1951 WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE INCOMPARABLE KATHARINE HEPBURN IN THE TRAVELING STAGE PRODUCTION OF “AS YOU LIKE IT.” FOR FORMER SPOKANE RESIDENT THERESA HAUER AND HER FRIEND DICK RUDFELT FROM LEWISTON, THE EVENT WOULD PROVIDE A LIFELONG MEMORY… AFTER THE PERFORMANCE WE STOOD OUT IN FRONT WAITING TO SEE HER. LO AND BEHOLD SHE APPEARED WEARING A BLACK CAPE AND A CHIFFON SCARF. HER FIRST WORDS TO US WERE, “COULD YOU HEAR?” YES. “WHERE WERE YOU SITTING?” THE REST OF THE CONVERSATION I CANNOT REMEMBER. THERE WE WERE JUST THE THREE OF US. WE EASILY FELL IN STEP WALKING ALONG SPRAGUE AVENUE TO POST STREET. WE LEFT THE REGAL KATHARINE HEPBURN AT THE POST STREET ENTRANCE OF THE DESERT HOTEL’S COFFEE SHOP. REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU WERE SITTING, KATHARINE HEPBURN’S THREE CAPTIVATING PERFORMANCES IN FEBRUARY OF 1951 WOULD USHER IN ANOTHER DECADE OF EXCELLENCE AT THE NOW TWENTY YEAR OLD FOX. FOR MOVIEGOER’S THIS WOULD MEAN FEATURE FILMS SHOWN IN 3-D AND CINEMASCOPE WITH STEREOPHONIC SOUND. IT ALSO WOULD MEAN A FEW COSMETIC CHANGES LIKE FRESH PAINT, NEW CARPET AND EXPANDED CONCESSIONS INSIDE AS WELL AS A NEW MARQUEE OUTSIDE. HOWEVER, DESPITE THE EXTENSIVE UPGRADES ALL AROUND, THE ART DECO ELEGANCE OF THE FOX REMAINED UNTOUCHED. ANOTHER CONSTANT WITHIN THE THEATER WAS THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF THE MYSTERIOUS MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN, “THE PROJECTIONIST.” WELL, THE PROJECTION ROOM WAS REALLY A SPECIAL ROOM. VERY FEW PEOPLE GOT A CHANCE TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON IN THERE. AND WHEN YOU WENT UP TO THAT AH, ROOM, THE FIRST THING YOU SAW WAS A GREAT DEAL OF MASSIVE EQUIPMENT THERE. SEVEN PROJECTORS WERE AH, ORIGINALLY INSTALLED, THREE OF THOSE WERE DEVOTED TO EFFECTS. THE OTHERS WERE DEVOTED TO FILM SHOWING AND THOSE REQUIRED EVACUATION OF THE SMOKE THAT CAME FROM THE ARC CHAMBERS, THE LAMP HOUSES OF THE PROJECTORS. PROJECTIONISTS WERE KNOWN BY HOW WELL DID THEY DO A CHANGE OVER, FROM ONE 20 MINUTE REEL TO THE NEXT. AND SO IT WAS A DEAL OF WORK TO GET THE SOUND EQUIPMENT ADJUSTED, GETTING THE EXCITER LAMP POSITIONED PROPERLY ON THE FILM, AND THEN STARTING OF THE PROJECTOR AND IF YOU LEFT THAT PROJECTOR STARTED TOO LONG YOU COULD HAVE A FIRE FROM A PIECE OF FILM GETTING STUCK IN THE FILM GATE BECAUSE THAT NITRATE FILM WAS VERY EXPLOSIVE, AND SO YOU HAD TO BE AWARE OF THAT. AND THEN YOU JUST HAD A FRACTION OF A SECOND TO MAKE THAT TRANSITION FROM THE FIRST REEL TO THE SECOND. CLEARLY, ATTENTION TO DETAIL, TECHNICAL SKILLS AND COURAGE WERE SOME OF THE MORE IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES REQUIRED TO BE A QUALITY PROJECTIONIST. HOWEVER, ACCORDING TO FORMER FOX EMPLOYEE DICK HAZELMYER, THAT WAS NOT ALL… THEN IT USED TO BE SHOWMANSHIP. AH, TO START A SHOW THERE WOULD BE A PATTERN OF LIGHT MOVING ON THE STAGE. AH PRETTY SOON THE HOUSE LIGHTS WOULD DIM SOMEWHAT AND THAT WOULD FADE OUT AND ON WOULD COME THE NEWS REEL. YOU’D OPEN THE CURTAIN ON THE NEWS REEL, RUN THE PREVIEWS, CLOSE THE CURTAIN, PAUSE FOR A MOMENT. THE HOUSE LIGHTS WOULD COME DOWN. THE START OF THE FEATURE WOULD COME ON. YOU WOULD OPEN A CURTAIN ON IT. I DON’T KNOW, YOU HAD THE SATISFACTION OF PUTTING ON A NICE PRESENTATION OF A SHOW. WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE SPACE AGE AND THE 1960’S, THE FOX WAS STILL THE “PLACE TO GO” FOR BOTH ONSCREEN AND STAGE ENTERTAINMENT… BY THE MID 60’S IT WAS KNOWN AS THE HOME OF DISNEY UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE ENERGETIC FAY MILLS, WHO WOULD MANAGE THE FOX FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS… I WAS 25 YRS OLD AT THE TIME AND IT WAS STILL A VERY, VERY GLORIOUS YOU KNOW TYPE OF THEATRE AND WE’D HAVE A WALT DISNEY AND YOU’D HAVE LINES AROUND THE BLOCK. AT THAT TIME YOU STILL HAD THE USHERETTES AND THE DOOR MAN. IT WAS A SIN ANYBODY THAT CAME INTO THE THEATRE THAT HAD TO SEAT THEMSELVES. WELL MY FIRST MEMORIES OF THE FOX THEATER ARE OF COMING HERE WHEN I WAS A KID. THEY HAD A SATURDAY MATINEE, AND I REMEMBER SEEING YOU KNOW, THE DISNEY ANIMATED FILMS THAT CAME OUT. SOMETIMES BECAUSE WE WERE SO LOUD, THEY WOULD GET UP ON THE STAGE AND SAY, ‘IF YOU DON’T SHUT-UP WE’RE TURNING OFF THE MOVIE AND YOU WON’T GET TO SEE IT’ CAN YOU IMAGINE YELLING AT LIKE 1000 KIDS? AND WE’RE LIKE, ‘OKAY, YEAH, I GUESS WE’LL BE QUIET’. BUT IT WAS ALWAYS SUCH A SPECIAL PLACE TO GO AND SUCH AN IMPORTANT THING. IN THE FALL OF 1969, THE FOX AND ITS GENERAL MANAGER WOULD GENERATE A BUZZ AS WELL AS HEADLINES BY SIMPLY SHOWING A MOVIE… THE PROBLEM WAS THE MOVIE WASN’T YOUR TYPICAL DISNEY, BUT RATHER THE X-RATED FILM. “I AM CURIOUS YELLOW.” WELL YOU HAD TO BRING THAT UP DIDN’T YOU? BACK THEN THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY, THE POLICE CHIEF AH THEY FELT THAT IT WAS NOT APPROPRIATE TO BE SHOWN IN SPOKANE. SO I GOT ESCORTED DOWN TO THE POLICE STATION AND THE FILM WAS CONFISCATED AS EVIDENCE AND I HAD AN ATTORNEY WAITING FOR ME. OF COURSE I WAS IMMEDIATELY RELEASED. AND THE JUDGE IMMEDIATELY RELEASED THE FILM AND AH WE PLAYED IT FOR ANOTHER 2 WEEKS TO RECORD CROWDS… AS THE FOX THEATER MOVED INTO THE 1970’S IT REMAINED A POPULAR DOWNTOWN MOVIE THEATER AS WELL AS THE HOME OF THE SPOKANE SYMPHONY, WHICH HAD MOVED THERE IN 1968. HOWEVER, NOW A HALF CENTURY OLD, THE FOX WAS BEGINNING TO SHOW ITS AGE, A FACT THAT WOULD LEAD TO BIG CHANGES FOR THE THEATER BY THE MIDDLE OF THE DECADE… BUT FIRST THERE WAS STILL TIME FOR A LITTLE THEATER HIJINX… I GOT HIRED, I BELIEVE, IN SPRING OF 1973. I WAS LOOKING FOR A JOB THAT I COULD WORK IN THE EVENING AND GO TO SCHOOL AND IT WAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY. I GOT HIRED AS A DOORMAN, AND THEN 6 MONTHS LATER I WAS PROMOTED TO ASSISTANT MANAGER. UM MAYBE FOR THOSE OF US INSIDE OUR MOST NOTORIOUS LITTLE EVENT WAS AH WHEN WE HAD HERBIE THE LOVE BUG. AH THE FOX WAS THE LARGEST HOUSE IN TOWN SO WE COULD ENTERTAIN AND HAVE THE DISNEY MOVIES DURING SPRING BREAK AND DURING THE SUMMER. AND SO WE HAD AN ACTUAL HERBIE VOLKSWAGEN IN THE LOBBY, AND WE KNEW WHERE THE KEYS WERE. SO ONE SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER THE THEATRE CLOSED DOWN WE GOT IN AND STARTED UP HERBIE AND DROVE IT THROUGH THE LOBBY AND UP THE STAIRS ONTO THE LANDING AND DOWN THE STAIRS ONTO THE OTHER SIDE. THAT WAS A BIT OF FUN. NOT LONG AFTER THE INFAMOUS LOVE BUG CAPER, THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE FOX THEATER’S REIGN AS SPOKANE’S PREMIER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER WAS AT HAND…. THE YEAR WAS 1975 AND THE CITY, FRESH OFF THE SUCCESS OF EXPO 74, HAD ITSELF A SHINY NEW OPERA HOUSE. IT WAS EVERYTHING THE 44-YEAR OLD FOX THEATER WAS NOT. IT WAS MODERN, SPACIOUS AND A PERFECT FIT FOR TRAVELING STAGE PRODUCTIONS AS WELL AS THE SPOKANE SYMPHONY… WITH THAT PART OF ITS VALUE NOW GONE, THE AGING FOX HAD TO RE-INVENT ITSELF AND THAT IT DID THANKS TO TECHNOLOGY AND THE EMERGENCE OF FILM PROJECTOR AUTOMATION… EVERYTHING IS BUILT ON ECONOMICS AND AT THAT TIME THE BALCONY WASN’T USED THAT OFTEN. YOU HAVE LIKE 1500, 1700 SEATS ON THE MAIN FLOOR SO THEY THOUGHT HEY WE CAN UTILIZE THE BALCONY AND PUT TWO THEATERS UP THERE. AND IT DESTROYED SOME OF THE GRANDEUR OF THE FOX BUT PEOPLE WERE GOING TO THE THEATRE WERE NOT REALLY GOING FOR THE PER SE, THE LOOKS OF THE FOX THEY WERE GOING TO THE MOVIE ITSELF. ON NOV 15 1975, FOLLOWING A LAVISH RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY FEATURING ACTRESS RHONDA FLEMMING, THE FOX BECAME EASTERN WASHINGTON’S FIRST EVER MULTISCREEN THEATER …. WE DID A LOT OF PROMOTIONS AND A LOT OF BALLYHOO. I CAN REMEMBER THE FIRST REMAKE OF KING KONG AND I HAD THIS GUY IN A GORILLA OUTFIT AND HE WAS CLIMBING UP THE WALLS OF THE FOX THEATRE UP THE LADDER AND WE HAD THESE MODEL AIRPLANE ENTHUSIASTS THAT FLEW THESE PLANES AT HIM AND SO WE HAD THE TV AND NEWSPAPER COVERAGE. I BEGAN WORKING AT THE FOX SHORTLY AFTER I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL IN 1977, AS A DOOR MAN, AND THEN CAME BACK ABOUT 2 YRS LATER AH, HAVING A SMALL JANITORIAL COMPANY, AND WE GOT THE CONTRACT TO CLEAN THE FOX DAILY. AND I REMEMBER DURING THE TIME THAT ET WAS PLAYING, AND IT WAS A PHENOMENALLY POPULAR MOVIE. AND I REMEMBER THIS TRAFFIC JAM ON MY WAY KNOWING THAT THE THEATER WAS PACKED AND JUST REMEMBER THINKING OF THESE PEOPLE THERE SPILLING POP AND DROPPING POPCORN ON THE FLOOR. SO THAT’S HOW I CHARACTERIZED THE FOX FOR A LONG TIME. IN HIGH SCHOOL, I STARTED WORKING HERE, WHICH WAS REALLY EXCITING. AND I THINK I WAS AN USHERETTE FOR AN HOUR ON ONE OF THE DAYS BUT MOSTLY I SOLD POPCORN AND CANDY. “ANIMAL HOUSE” PLAYED THE SUMMER BEFORE I WENT TO COLLEGE AND IT SOLD OUT ALL SUMMER AND THE CROWD LAUGHING. AND AHM, I JUST HAVE TONS AND TONS OF GREAT MOMENTS AND MEMORIES. BORN DURING THE DEPRESSION, SPOKANE’S FOX THEATER WITH ALL OF ITS ELEGANCE AND ARTISTIC SPLENDOR PROVED AT THE TIME TO BE JUST WHAT THE COMMUNITY NEEDED. OVER THE 6 DECADES TO FOLLOW THE FOX WOULD CONTINUE TO FULLFILL THAT ROLE BY PLAYING HOST TO A MULTITUDE OF HOLLYWOOD AND WORLD RENOWNED PERFORMERS, COUNTLESS BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES FROM “GONE WITH THE WIND” TO “ET”… AND FINALLY, BY BEING THAT SPECIAL PLACE WHERE MANY IN SPOKANE GREW UP, TOOK THEIR FIRST DATE, STOLE THEIR FIRST KISS AND EVEN WALKED ACROSS THE STAGE TO GRADUATE… YET PRECIOUS MEMORIES ALONE WOULD NOT BE ENOUGH TO SUSTAIN THE TIRED AND FADED FOX THEATER AS IT APPROACHED THE START OF A NEW CENTURY. EVENTUALLY IN EARLY 2000, AFTER SEVERAL YEARS OPERATING AS A SECOND RUN DISCOUNT MOVIE HOUSE, SPOKANE’S FOX THEATRE WAS LISTED FOR SALE AND LEFT TEETERING ON THE EDGE OF DEMOLITION… FORTUNATELY, IN RESPONSE TO THE COMMUNITY’S PASSIONATE OUTCRY TO SAVE THE FOX, A FORMER TENANT STEPPED FORWARD TO SPEARHEAD A LAST MINUTE EFFORT TO RAISE ENOUGH PRIVATE FUNDING IN COMBINATION WITH STATE GRANT MONEY TO ACQUIRE THE PROPERTY… FACING A SHORT THREE MONTH DEADLINE, THE COMMUNITY RESPONDED QUICKLY SO THAT BY THE FALL OF 2000 THE SPOKANE SYMPHONY HAD THE 1.2 MILLION DOLLARS NECESSARY TO BUY THE FOX AND SET IN MOTION AN AMBITIOUS PLAN TO RENOVATE SPOKANE’S HISTORIC ART DECO TREASURE INTO THE NEW, OLD HOME OF THE SYMPHONY. THE FOX THEATER IS A GREAT VENUE FOR US BECAUSE IT IS MORE INTIMATE, BECAUSE AUDIENCE AND ORCHESTRA ARE CLOSER TOGETHER, BECAUSE IT WILL SOUND BETTER. IT WILL SOUND BIGGER, IT WILL SOUND RICHER. THIS WILL REALLY CHANGE THE EXPERIENCE OF HOW YOU LISTEN, HOW YOU EXPERIENCE MUSIC, HOW IT WILL TOUCH YOU AND THAT’S WHAT MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT. WITH THE SYMPHONY’S PURCHASE IN 2000, THE BUSINESS OF DESIGNING AND PLANNING THE FOX THEATER’S RENOVATION SOON FOLLOWED. HOWEVER, RAISING THE 31 MILLION DOLLARS NEEDED TO GET THE PROJECT BEYOND ARCHITECTUAL DRAWINGS TOOK SOME TIME. FINALLY, IN 2005, AFTER A MAJOR REDESIGN TO BETTER MATCH THE CAPACITY OF THE FUNDRAISING EFFORTS, WHICH FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SPOKANE INCLUDED THE CREATIVE PAIRING OF HISTORIC AND NEW MARKETS TAX CREDITS, THE MUCH ANTICIPATED RENOVATION OF ONE OF THE LAST REMAINING ART DECO THEATRES NORTH OF SAN FRANCISCO WAS NOW IN SIGHT. THIS THEATRE AND ITS ACOUSTIC AND IT’S ATMOSPHERE IS TRULY SPECIAL, IS TRULY ONE OF THE MORE BEAUTIFUL REGIONAL CONCERT HOUSES THAT I HAVE EVER BEEN IN ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AND CERTAINLY THE POTENTIAL OF A PROJECT LIKE THIS AND A HOME FOR THE SYMPHONY AND A RENOVATION OF THIS BEAUTIFUL INSTITUTION IN THIS CITY COULD BE SO SIGNIFICANT. ON NOVEMBER 22, 2005, IN A FESTIVE CEREMONY MARKING THE OFFICIAL CLOSING OF THE FOX FOR RESTORATION, THE LIGHTS OF THE NOW HOLLOW AND WORNOUT ICON WERE EXTINGUISHED. IN THE DARKNESS IT WAS EASY TO IMAGINE THE STARS OF THE THEATER’S PAST WAVING A FOND FAREWELL AS THE CURTAIN CLOSED ON WHAT HAD BEEN A GLORIOUS FIRST ERA OF SERVICE FOR THE PLACE SIMPLY KNOWN AS “THE FOX”… ONCE LIGHT WAS RESTORED FOLLOWING THE THEATER’S OFFICIAL CLOSING, THE FOX RENOVATION PROJECT BECAME REALITY. FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS THE COMPELLING SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF PERFORMANCE THAT ONCE FILLED THE THEATER WOULD BE REPLACED BY THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF PROGRESS AND THE PROMISE OF A FRESH START…… ONE OF THE KEY ISSUES WITH THE FOX IS THAT IT WAS CHANGING FROM A MOVIE THEATER TO A PERFORMING ARTS FACILITY. SO THAT MEANT A COUPLE THINGS. AH, WITH AH, SYMPHONY PERFORMANCE AH, IT’S MORE OF A SOCIAL GATHERING EVENT THAN IT IS WITH THE MOVIE THEATERS. SO AH, LOBBY SPACE WAS A BIG DEAL. AND THEN THE SIGHT LINES ARE DIFFERENT. WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING AT A MOVIE SCREEN VERSUS A PERFORMANCE ON A STAGE. ON THE MAIN FLOOR OF THE AUDITORIUM LEVEL, AH, THAT WAS A PRETTY EASY ONE TO FIX, BECAUSE WE INCREASED THE SLOPE OF THE SEATING LEVEL. ON THE BALCONY IT WAS A DIFFERENT STORY; THAT’S WHERE THEY HAD IT TURNED INTO A TRIPLEX THEATER. THE BALCONY WAS DIVIDED IN HALF AND THEY RECONFIGURED THE RISERS THERE AT THAT TIME. SO WHAT WE ENDED UP DOING WAS CHIPPING AWAY ALL THE CONCRETE THAT WAS ADDED, GETTING IT BACK DOWN TO WHAT WAS ORIGINAL, AND THEN ADDING A LIGHT GAUGE STEEL FRAMED AH, FLOOR SYSTEM TO IMPROVE THE SIGHT LINES. IN ADDITION TO THOSE THREE ISSUES, PROVIDING SUPPORT SPACES FOR A PERFORMING ARTS FACILITY, AND ALSO, INSERTING ALL OF THE MODERN SYSTEMS. YOU THROW ALL THAT TOGETHER WITH THE FACT THAT IT WAS A HISTORICAL BUILDING MADE THIS PROJECT A LITTLE MORE COMPLICATED. I WAS PRETTY IN AWE OF THE WHOLE PROJECT WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED ON SCENE. AND I REALLY DIDN’T HAVE A TRUE SCOPE OF THE WORK, BECAUSE WHEN I, WHEN I FIRST CAME HERE ORIGINALLY IT WAS SELECTIVE DEMOLITION TO HELP THE DESIGN TEAM. AND AS WE GOT FURTHER INTO IT, WE REALIZED WHAT WE WERE UP AGAINST, AND IT WAS EVEN GREATER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE. WITH MOST RENOVATION PROJECTS, THE PROCESS OF REMOVING THE OLD TO MAKE WAY FOR THE NEW IS USUALLY SWIFT AND SURE. HOWEVER GIVEN THE NATURE OF THE FOX PROJECT, WHICH INCLUDED THE ELEMENT OF HISTORICAL RESTORATION, IT WASN’T THAT SIMPLE… ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THAT I SAW THAT I KNEW RIGHT OFF THE BAT WE HAD TO PROTECT WAS OBVIOUSLY THE ETCHED GLASS RAILINGS IN THE LOBBY AND THE MEZZANINE. THOSE WERE WRAPPED AH, IN FOAM TO PROTECT THEM. WE HAD THE ENTIRE WALLS IN THE LOBBY AREA AND THE MEZZANINE COVERED IN 2-INCH RIGID INSULATION, JUST TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM BANGING INTO THE WALLS. THE LIGHT FIXTURES WERE REMOVED PIECE BY PIECE AND SENT OUT FOR RESTORATION, BUT THE ORNATE PLASTER THAT SUSPENDED THE LIGHT FIXTURES, ONCE AGAIN WE HAD TO WRAP AND COMPLETELY COVER IN FOAM. THERE WAS A LOT OF TIME AND EFFORT WENT IN FOR MONTHS JUST GETTING THE BUILDING INTO A POSITION TO WHERE WE COULD ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING WITHOUT DAMAGING ANYTHING. ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS WE DID AFTER WE STARTED TO DO OUR LITTLE PROTECTION THING WITH THE GLASS RAILS WAS WE WERE TOLD TO GO AHEAD AND REMOVE THE SEATS. AHM, THIS WAS PART OF THE GETTING READY TO DO SOME SELECTIVE DEMOLITIONS FOR THE DESIGN TEAM. WE TRIED TO UNBOLT THEM, THE BOLTS WERE SO RUSTY AH, IT GOT TO THE POINT TO WHERE IT WAS EASIER JUST TO SNAP THE BOLTS OFF AND CUT THEM. AHM, THEY HAD PEOPLE COMING IN THAT WERE BUYING ROWS OF SEATS TO PUT IN THEIR HOME THEATERS. BECAUSE THE FOX PROJECT WAS PARTIALLY FUNDED BY HISTORICAL TAX CREDITS UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, THE NEW DESIGN OF THE FOX HAD TO FOLLOW SPECIFIC HISTORIC PRESERVATION GUIDELINES. ONE ISSUE THAT SURFACED JUST AS SELECTIVE DEMOLITION BEGAN WAS THE PLACEMENT OF NEW AIR HANDLING EQUIPMENT… ONE OF OUR ORIGINAL PLANS WAS TO HAVE SOME ROOFTOP MOUNTED UNITS, AND THAT WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT WAS ACCEPTABLE TO THE NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE. AND SO, WE TOOK AH, I THINK EVERY BIT OF STORAGE SPACE THAT WE HAD PREVIOUSLY PLANNED IN THE BUILDING, AND FILLED IT WITH MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT. THE REDESIGN OF THE MECHANICAL SYSTEM REQUIRED THAT WE HAD TO ENLARGE THE THE ONE BIG MECHANICAL ROOM THAT WE HAD, WHICH MEANT WE HAD TO GO DOWN INTO THE GROUND ABOUT 8 OR 9 FEET, AND RE-ESTABLISH THE FOUNDATION FOR THAT WHOLE SOUTH SIDE OF THE BUILDING. BY THE SPRING OF 2006, AFTER A PAINSTAKING REDESIGN OF THE BUILDING’S MECHANICAL SYSTEM, THE FOX RENOVATION PROJECT WAS BACK ON TRACK AND READY TO BUST OUT… WITH A GAPING HOLE NOW IN ITS BACKSIDE, THE FULL SCALE DEMOLITION NECESSARY TO TRANSFORM THE FOX INTO A MODERN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER WAS UNDERWAY. THIS MEANT GUTTING THE VARIOUS STORE FRONTS ON THE NORTH AND EAST ENDS OF THE BUILDING, AS WELL AS WELL STRIPPING THE THEATER, OLD EQUIPMENT AND ALL, DOWN TO ITS ORIGINAL BONES… FOR MONTHS THAT’S ALL WE DID WAS DEMOLITION. WE HAD, FOUR GUYS ON JACKHAMMERS. WE HAD SOME SPECIAL EQUIPMENT IN HERE THAT HAD JACKHAMMERS ON THEM. I COULDN’T EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU HOW MANY CUBIC YARDS OF CONCRETE WE TOOK OUT OF THIS BUILDING. AND NOT ONLY CONCRETE, IT WAS PLUMBING, IT WAS ELECTRICAL, IT WAS OLD FIXTURES, SHELVES. AND THEN THE OLD HVAC SYSTEM THAT WAS IN HERE, WE HAD TO LITERALLY CUT THIS STUFF OUT WITH A TORCH IN PIECES TO GET IT OUT OF THE BUILDING, IT WAS SO BIG. AND AHM, WE ACTUALLY GOT THE SQUIRREL CAGE OUT IN ONE PIECE. WHEN WE TIPPED IT UP ON EDGE IT JUST WENT THROUGH THE OPENING. THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER OF 2006, THE FOX RENOVATION SITE BUZZED WITH ACTIVITY. INSIDE, DEMOLITION HAD SPREAD TO ALL FOUR CORNERS OF THE BUILDING WHILE OUTSIDE MAJOR WORK WAS IN PROGRESS TO RESTORE AN AREA OF THE BUILDING THE PUBLIC HARDLY NOTICES, THE PARAPET. IT WOULD TAKE NEARLY 4 MONTHS TO REPAIR. THE PARAPET IS AH, THE PART OF THE BUILDING THAT STICKS UP ABOVE THE ROOF DECK ON ALL BUILDINGS, AND THAT’S WHERE MOST OF THE DAMAGE IS ON MOST OF OUR OLD BUILDINGS IN TOWN. ON THE FOX, IT WAS BECAUSE THE REBAR WAS TOO CLOSE TO THE SURFACE GOT RUSTY, AND EXPANDED AND BLEW UP THE CONCRETE ALL ALONG THE TOP OF THE PARAPET. MOST OF THE REPAIRS WERE AHM TO CUT IT BACK TO GOOD CONCRETE AND FORM A MOLD TO MAKE THE RIPPLES ON THE WALL. AND THEN WHAT WE DID IS WE BOLTED THOSE MOLDS TO THE WALL WITH A STRAIGHT FORM BOARD ON THE BACK TO MAKE THE FRONT SURFACE MATCH THE OLD SURFACE. AS SUMMER MELTED INTO FALL, A THREE-STORY SCAFFOLDING WAS ERECTED IN THE THEATER’S MAIN LOBBY TO FACILITATE THE RESTORATION OF NOT ONLY ONE OF THE BUILDINGS MORE PROMINENT FEATURES, THE LUMINOUS STARBURST LIGHT FIXTURE, BUT THE HISTORIC WALL AND CEILING MURALS IN THIS SPACE AS WELL. THIS DELICATE JOB AND ALL WORK RELATED TO RESTORING THE THEATER’S ORIGINAL ART DECO ELEGANCE, WHETHER IT WAS ON THE WALLS, CEILINGS OR EVEN ON THE FLOORS WAS IN THE CREATIVE HANDS OF JEFF GREENE AND HIS STAFF FROM EVERGREENE PAINTING COMPANY OUT OF NEW YORK… JEFF GREENE WHEN WE CAME THERE, CERTAIN AREAS HAD BEEN PAINTED OVER, CERTAIN THINGS HAD BEEN PAINTED OUT, CERTAIN THINGS WERE ORIGINAL, BUT THEY’D BEEN AGED WITH PATINA ON THEM, SO WE HAD TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO REGAIN THE BALANCE, THE HARMONY OF ALL THE INTERIOR DECORATIONS. WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL DECORATOR’S OR THE ORIGINAL ARCHITECT’S VISION? SO THE WAY TO ACHIEVE THAT WAS TO TAKE CHIPS OF PAINT, LOOK AT THEM UNDER THE MICROSCOPE, DETERMINE WHAT WAS THE PROPER CHRONOLOGY, WHAT WERE THE ORIGINAL LAYERS OR STRUCTURE, WHICH COLORS FIT WITH WHICH OTHER COLORS, SO THAT WE COULD RE-HARMONIZE IT. IN THE LOBBY THERE WERE THOSE VERY LARGE SCROLLS WERE PAINTED IN THE FOUR CORNERS AROUND THE CENTRAL AH, LIGHT FIXTURE. THEY’D BEEN COMPLETELY PAINTED OUT. WE DID EXPOSURE WINDOWS, WHERE WE TAKE OFF ONE LAYER OF PAINT AT A TIME TO REVEAL WHAT’S UNDERNEATH IT. AND WE FOUND IT. BUT IT WAS NOT PRACTICAL TO REMOVE ALL THE PAINT IN ITS ENTIRETY. SO WE LOOKED AT HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS, ESTABLISHED WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE, WHAT THE COLORS WERE, AND WE REPLICATED THOSE FOUR CORNERS ON CANVAS IN THE STUDIO AND PUT THEM UP THERE. THE TASK OF RESTORING THE LOBBY CEILING, WHICH IN SOME AREAS MEANT GLUING IT BACK TOGETHER ALONG WITH PATCHING, CLEANING AND PAINTING IT, WOULD TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS TO COMPLETE. AT THE SAME TIME, WORKING ALONGSIDE THE EVERGREENE CREW, WERE A COUPLE OF SKILLED ARTISANS FROM A LOCAL COMPANY CALLED REFLECTION GLASS… THE TWO MAJOR PROJECTS WE WORKED ON WERE THE STARBURST IN THE LOBBY IN THE CEILING AND THE SUNBURST ABOVE THE STAGE. THE STARBURST, YOU KNOW, PART OF THE HARDEST PROBLEM WITH THAT WAS SOME OF THE WINDOWS IN THAT WERE SO BIG. GETTING THEM DOWN WITHOUT BREAKING ANYTHING, GETTING THEM BACK UP WITHOUT BREAKING ANYTHING, ACTUALLY WORKING ON THEM, WE COMPLETELY TOOK THOSE ONES APART AND REBUILT THEM. REPLACING PIECES THAT WERE MISSING, THAT WERE BROKEN, WE HAD TO DO SOME SPECIAL GLUE-CHIPPING, WHICH IS A PROCESS WHERE YOU ACTUALLY SANDBLAST AND THEN GLUE-CHIP THE GLASS. AND IT WAS DIFFICULT, BUT IT WAS MOSTLY JUST DIFFERENT. AND TO SEE HOW THE ARTISTS THAT DID THIS WORK ORIGINALLY YEARS AGO, WAS FASCINATING. BECAUSE GLASS WHEN IT’S VERTICAL IS NOT VERY SAFE. AND SO TO TRY AND GET THEM IN PLACE AND GET THEM WIRED BACK UP THE WAY THEY WERE ORIGINALLY WIRED, TO SUPPORT THEM FROM ABOVE, IT WAS JUST VERY COMPLICATED. SPEAKING OF COMPLICATED, WHILE STEADY PROGRESS WAS BEING MADE OUT IN THE LOBBY, WORK IN THE MAIN HALL CONTINUED TO CENTER AROUND REMOVING DEBRIS AS WELL AS THE POURING OF A NEW CONCRETE FLOOR IN THE AREA UNDERNEATH THE BALCONY DESTINED TO BECOME ADDITIONAL LOBBY SPACE. ONCE THIS FLOOR WAS IN, THE FIRST SECTION OF WHAT WOULD BE A FIVE-STORY SCAFFOLDING MAZE WITHIN THE MAIN HALL WOULD BE ERECTED TO SUPPORT THE CEILING BELOW THE BALCONY. IT WAS THE BEGINNING STAGES OF WHAT WOULD BECOME THE SINGLE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF THE ENTIRE FOX RENOVATION PROJECT… THE CEILING IN BOTH THE MAIN HALL AND THE CEILING BELOW THE BALCONY, WERE HISTORIC PLASTER CEILINGS, AND IT WAS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE SAVE THOSE. THE ONLY PROBLEM WAS IS THAT THEY WERE ALL ATTACHED TO THE EXISTING STRUCTURE BY A A FOREST OF WIRES. WE KNEW IT WAS GONNA BE A PROBLEM TO SOLVE IN BOTH AREAS, BUT THE FIRST AREA WE GOT INTO WAS ON THE BALCONY. AND BECAUSE OF THE RESTRUCTURING OF THE BALCONY MEANT THAT WE HAD TO CUT OUT CONCRETE. WELL THIS CONCRETE IS WHAT WAS HOLDING UP THE CEILING BELOW IT. SO WE HAD TO COME IN WITH NEW STEEL STRUCTURE AND NOT DROP ANYTHING THROUGH THE CEILING BELOW YOU. AND THEN THE NEXT THING ONCE WE GOT THE STEEL PUT IN WE HAD TO GET ALL THE DUCT WORK AND ELECTRICAL WORK IN THAT SPACE BETWEEN THE CEILING AND THE STRUCTURE OF THE BALCONY, WHICH MEANT THAT ALL OF THOSE SUPPORT WIRES HAD TO BE CUT OFF AND REATTACHED. YEAH EVERYBODY WAS PRETTY STRESSED OUT ABOUT THAT. ONCE AGAIN, WHEN WE SUSPENDED THE CEILING, WE MADE SURE THAT IT WAS WRAPPED IN INSULATION AND FOAM AND PLYWOOD AND COMPLETELY SUPPORTED. AND ACTUALLY, WHEN WE TOOK IT ALL DOWN, I WAS PRETTY IMPRESSED IT WAS IN AS GOOD A SHAPE AS IT WAS. WHILE THE BALCONY CEILING PROVIDED THE CONSTRUCTION CREW A STEEP CHALLENGE, IT PALED IN COMPARISON TO THE ORNATE 40,000- POUND PLASTER CEILING SPANNING THE ENTIRE AUDITORIUM… THIS MAJOR SIX-MONTH ORDEAL BEGAN SHORTLY AFTER THE POURING OF THE MAIN FLOOR JUST TWO MONTHS INTO THE NEW YEAR OF 2007. AND ONCE AGAIN, IT COMES BACK TO THE PRESERVATION ISSUE AND THE FACT THAT THERE ARE SO MANY PARTS AND PIECES TO THE CEILING, THAT NOBODY REALLY, I DON’T THINK, UNDERSTOOD UNTIL WE ACTUALLY GOT UP THERE AND STARTED DOING IT, JUST HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS GOING TO BE. I’M NOT EXAGGERATING IF I SAY THAT SOME OF THIS DUCT WORK IS AS BIG AS A CITY BUS, UP ABOVE THAT CEILING. AND THE CEILING WAS SUPPORTED BY THIS FOREST OF WIRES UP THERE THAT WERE GOING TO BE INTERRUPTED BY THE DUCT WORK. SO WE HAD TO COME UP WITH A SYSTEM THAT WHERE WE COULD CUT ALL THE WIRES OFF UP ABOVE AND RE-ATTACH THE CEILING WITH STEEL,AND INSTALL THIS DUCT WORK. THE FIRST THING WE HAD TO DO WAS RE-SUPPORT THE CEILING ON THE SCAFFOLD. THE SCAFFOLD WAS THERE FOR TWO REASONS. ONE IS TO TO WORK OFF OF AS A PLATFORM, AND THE SECOND IT WAS THERE TO SUPPORT THE CEILING SO WE COULD TAKE ALL THE WEIGHT OF THE CEILING ON THE SCAFFOLD. WELL, OBVIOUSLY AFTER THE CEILING WAS SHORED AND WE WERE COMFORTABLE WITH THAT, WE WENT ABOVE THE CEILING AND COVERED ALL THE COLD ROLL THAT SUPPORTS THE PLASTER WITH PLYWOOD TO GIVE US SOME KIND OF A WORKING SURFACE. THEN WE BEGAN TO REMOVE SOME STRUCTURAL STEEL TO ALLOW US TO PUT NEW I-BEAMS. THERE WAS A LOT OF NEW I-BEAM STEEL AND STRUCTURAL STEEL THAT WENT UP THERE. THE PROBLEM WAS HOW DO YOU GET 25-FOOT STEEL BEAMS THAT WEIGH 1200 LBS INTO AN AREA THAT’S, YOU KNOW, ANYWHERE FROM 7 TO 20 FEET TALL, WHEN YOU CAN’T COME DOWN AND YOU CAN’T GO UP? SO WE DECIDED TO CUT A HOLE IN THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE BUILDING AT THE PROJECTION LEVEL ELEVATION JUST ABOVE THE CEILING. AHM, WE GOT OUR STEEL IN, AND THEN WE HUNG THE CEILING FROM THAT. BY THE TIME THE HISTORIC AUDITORIUM CEILING WAS REATTACHED AND MUCH OF THE AIR HANDLING SYSTEM WAS IN PLACE, IT WAS JULY AND A GOOD DEAL HAD CHANGED AROUND THE FOX. IN THE MAIN HALL THE CREW FROM EVERGREENE, USING PARTS OF THE SCAFFOLDING AS A PLATFORM, HAD CLEANED AND REPAINTED MOST OF THE COLORFUL WALL MURALS. MOVING OUT TO THE MAIN LOBBY THE SCAFFOLDING MAZE THAT ONCE DOMINATED THIS SPACE WAS GONE AND THE PROCESS OF RESTORING WALL MURALS LEADING TO BOTH THE LADIES AND MENS RESTROOMS AS WELL AS THE CLEANING AND REPAINTING OF CEILING ART WORK IN THE LOBBY ENTRANCE AREAS AND THE NEW FOUNDERS GALLERY WERE WELL UNDERWAY. MEANTIME, ON THE BUILDING’S EXTERIOR, THE PROCESS OF PREPARING ITS PEELING AND CRUMBLING CONCRETE SURFACE FOR A NEW PAINT JOB WAS PROGRESSING. IN ADDITION, NOW MISSING WERE TWO OF THE THEATER’S DISTINQUISHING FEATURES: ITS OLD MARQUEE AND THE ORIGINAL ROTATING “FOX” SIGN, WHOSE PLUCKING FROM THE ROOF EARLIER IN THE SPRING BY A SIGN COMPANY OUT OF BOISE, IDAHO PRODUCED QUITE A SHOW… WELL, YOUNG ELECTRIC SIGN, BECAUSE THEY WERE GOING TO REBUILD THE SIGN, THEY WERE VERY CAREFUL IN TAKING IT DOWN. IF THEY’D RECOGNIZED HOW BAD A SHAPE IT WAS IN, THEY PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN SO CAREFUL TAKING IT DOWN, BUT THEY CAREFULLY TOOK IT DOWN THINKING THAT IT WOULD BE RESTORED. SO IT MEANT HAVING TO SHUT DOWN LINCOLN STREET IN DOWNTOWN AND BRING IN A BIG CRANE. IT HAD LESS THAN A FOOT OF BOOM LEFT IN IT WHEN THEY FINALLY GOT IT PICKED OFF. THE INTERESTING THING WAS THAT THE PIGEONS HAD BEEN LIVING IN THAT TOWER FOR 75 YEARS. AND THEY ACTUALLY FOUND WHEN THEY GOT TO BOISE THEY STILL HAD PIGEONS LIVING INSIDE THE TOWER. IN THE END THE OLD SIGN WOULD BE USED AS A TEMPLATE TO BUILD A REPLICA THAT WOULD BE HOISTED BACK ON THE ROOF 5 MONTHS LATER… THE BUILDING OF A NEW FOX SIGN AS WELL TWO NEW MARQUEES IN BOISE WAS A SHINING EXAMPLE OF SOME OF THE FOX RENOVATION WORK THAT WAS HAPPENING OFFSITE… ANOTHER INVOLVED THE RESTORATION OF MANY OF THE THEATER’S HISTORIC LIGHT FIXTURES WE WERE REALLY FORTUNATE CAUSE WE WE’D DONE A NATIONAL SEARCH FOR COMPANIES THAT COULD DO THE RESTORATION OF THESE THESE PRICELESS LIGHT FIXTURES. WE WERE TOLD BY THE EXPERTS THAT WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY OF THAT KIND OF LOCAL TALENT. WELL WE FOUND LOCAL TALENT IN REVIVAL LIGHTING. THEY’RE LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. THEY’VE TAKEN THIS PROJECT TO HEART. WITH ITS SMALL STAFF EVERYONE AT REVIVAL LIGHTING PLAYED A ROLE IN HELPING TO EITHER RESTORE, REPLICATE OR CREATE NEW FIXTURES FOR THE FOX. ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL ARTISANS RESPONSIBLE FOR RESTORING MANY OF THE THEATERS ORIGINAL FIXTURES WAS MORGAN SCOFIELD… THIS ONE AND FOUR OTHERS THAT MATCH WERE SOME OF THE MAIN LIGHTING IN THE AUDITORIUM. AS YOU CAN SEE, THIS ONE’S IN PRETTY BAD SHAPE. SOMEONE ATTACKED THIS WITH SOME SODA AT ONE POINT, I DON’T KNOW HOW OLD IT IS, BUT IT’S PRETTY OLD. I’M GONNA SOAK IT IN WATER FOR AS LONG AS I CAN. WE HAVE A STRONGER CLEANING SOLVENTS, BUT THE FINISHES ARE KIND OF TOUCHY ON THESE, SO WE JUST USE SOAP AND WATER. IT’LL BE COMPLETELY TAKEN APART. SOME OF THESE FINS ARE GOING TO BE SPLINTED BACK ON. THESE FINS HOLD UP THE BLADES OF GLASS THAT ACCENT THE FIXTURE. BUT THEY HAVE BEEN BROKEN, SO THEY’LL HAVE TO BE REATTACHED TO THIS MAIN BODY PIECE. ALL THE WIRING INSIDE WILL BE REPLACED. ALL THE PORCELAIN SOCKETS WILL BE REPLACED WITH NEWER MORE EFFICIENT ONES. WORKING IN CONJUNCTION WITH REVIVAL LIGHTING WAS ANOTHER LOCAL GLASS ARTISAN, JUDY KLIER. FROM HER STUDIO IN COLBERT, WASHINGTON, JUDY REPLICATED A VARIETY OF CARVED AND ETCHED GLASS PIECES FOR THE FOX, INCLUDING PIECES FOR THE BUILDING’S NEW & OLD LIGHT FIXTURES, CEILING STARS AND ENTRY DOORS. SHE EVEN CREATED ORIGINAL GLASS PIECES FOR THE MAIN LOBBY’S NEW BAR AREA. HER BIGGEST CHALLENGE WAS THE REPRODUCTION OF FOUR OF THESE EXQUISITE GLASS PANELS MISSING FROM THE FOX THEATER’S GRACEFUL, ONE- OF- A- KIND STAIRCASE… I HAVE A COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT I USED AND I SCANNED THE ACTUAL PIECE INTO THE COMPUTER AND THEN I WAS ABLE TO AHM, HAVE THAT STENCIL MADE AND THEN USE THAT TO RECREATE THE PATTERN. THE ORIGINAL PIECES WERE SANDBLASTED AND THEY WERE ALSO WHEEL ETCHED. WHICH I DON’T DO THE WHEEL ETCHING, BUT I WAS ABLE TO USE SANDBLASTING AND RECREATE THE LOOK OF THE WHEEL ETCHING. I WAS PRETTY HAPPY WITH HOW THEY ALL TURNED OUT AND SEEMED TO MATCH PRETTY WELL, IN MANY WAYS THE FOX RENOVATION PROJECT WAS LIKE A MASSIVE JIGSAW PUZZLE WITH THOUSANDS OF PIECES. AND WHETHER THEY WERE NEWLY RESTORED OR REPLICATED HISTORIC PIECES, OR COMPLETELY BRAND NEW, EACH PIECE DELIVERED BY THE VARIOUS ARTISANS INVOLVED WAS SIGNIFICANT. AS AUGUST 2007 APPROACHED, A NUMBER OF THESE PIECES WERE NOW STARTING TO ARRIVE ONSITE READY TO BE PUT IN THEIR PLACES. ONE AREA WHERE THE INSTALLATION OF A NUMBER OF INTRICATE PIECES WAS NECESSARY TO COMPLETE ITS RESTORATION WAS THE ORNATE CEILING ABOVE THE AUDITORIUM… ONCE WE GOT THE CEILING RE-ATTACHED TO THE POINT WHERE WE COULD TAKE THE FIRST LAYER OFF AND GET THE SHORING OUT OF THE WAY, THEN ALL OF THE WORK BELOW FOR THE RESTORATION OF THE CEILING, AND EVERYTHING ELSE THAT HAD TO BE DONE COULD GO ON. I’LL REMIND YOU THAT ONE OF THE ORIGINAL PROPOSALS IN THE DESIGN PROCESS WAS IT WOULD BE CHEAPER AND EASIER TO SIMPLY TAKE THAT CEILING OUT OF THERE COMPLETELY, AND THEN PUT A NEW CEILING AND REPLICATE IT. AND WE ADVOCATED VERY STRONGLY, NO, THIS IS AN ORIGINAL CEILING, IT’S IN GOOD SHAPE, YOU CAN MAINTAIN IT, YOU HAVE TO PRESERVE IT. AND ULTIMATELY WE WON THAT ARGUMENT. AS FEARED, DUE TO ITS AGE AND 6 MONTHS OF EXTENSIVE CONSTRUCTION ABOVE IT, THE RESTORATION OF THE HISTORIC AUDITORIUM CEILING WOULD DEMAND ALL THE CREATIVE ABILITY THE CREW FROM EVERGREENE PAINTING COULD MUSTER… EARLY ON, FOLLOWING THE REMOVAL OF SHORING IN MID JULY, THIS MEANT WIDESPREAD PATCHING & GLUEING OF THE CEILING TO REPAIR CONSTRUCTION DAMAGE. THEN, ONCE THIS WORK WAS COMPLETED, THE FOCUS SHIFTED TOWARDS THE PROCESS OF CLEANING AND REPAINTING THE CEILING MURALS JUST LIKE THE WALL MURALS EARLIER. BECAUSE THE WALL TEXTURE WAS SO THICK, AH, AND THE PAINT WAS ORIGINALLY A GLUE-BASED PAINT MADE FROM AH, ANIMAL SKINS OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, VERY WEAKLY BOUND PAINT. AH, SO YOU COULDN’T CLEAN IT WITH ANYTHING AQUEOUS. WE HAD TO DO A LOT OF PATCHING AND PLASTERING, AND IT WASN’T PRACTICAL AT THAT POINT TO SIMPLY CONSERVE IT AND CLEAN IT, AND IT ENDED UP BEING LARGELY REINSTATED. BEYOND THE ABILITY TO APPLY PLASTER AND A FRESH COAT OF PAINT, THE PRESERVATION OF EVERY ELABORATE DETAIL IN THE AUDITORIUM CEILING REQUIRED A WIDE RANGE OF SKILLSETS… THESE LOVELY THREE DIMENSIONAL GLASS STARS DOTTING THE CEILING WERE JUST ONE EXAMPLE… INITIALLY WE THOUGHT THEY WERE GALVANIZED METAL. AND WHEN WE GOT UP THERE WE REALIZED THAT THEY WEREN’T METAL, BUT THAT THEY WERE ACTUALLY TRIANGULAR SHEETS OF GLASS. ONE SIDE WOULD BE A MIRROR, THE OTHER SIDE WOULD BE WHAT LOOKED LIKE GLUE-CHIP AND THEY WERE HELD TOGETHER WITH A LITTLE FINIAL AT THE END, AND MY FOREMAN, MIKE CARPENTER, PUTTING THEM BACK TOGETHER, SAID IT WAS REALLY DIFFICULT BECAUSE YOU HAD TO HOLD THEM ALL IN PLACE WHILE YOU PUT THIS LITTLE FIXTURE IN THERE, AND THEY’RE ALL HELD TOGETHER WITH JUST ONE SCREW. IN THE END, WHILE THE RESTORATION OF THE FOX THEATER’S ORIGINAL AUDITORIUM CEILING PROVED TEDIOUS AT TIMES, ITS COMPLETION WOULD BE A SOURCE OF PRIDE FOR ALL WHO WORKED ON IT… I’M SURE THAT THE CRAFTSMEN WHO WORKED ON IT ORIGINALLY, BROUGHT THIS, YOU KNOW, REALLY VAST ARRAY OF KNOWLEDGE TO COME TO BEAR ON THIS PROJECT. AND YOU SEE THAT IN THE IN THE VARIETY OF TECHNIQUES THAT THEY EMPLOYED AND HOW THEY BROUGHT IT ALL TOGETHER. SO FOR US, IT’S THE SAME THING. THERE’S AN ENORMOUS SATISFACTION IN REDISCOVERING THESE TECHNIQUES, BRINGING THEM TO BEAR, AND AND HAVING A PROJECT THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHEN THE SCAFFOLDING COMES DOWN, YOU SAY, “LOOK AT THAT”. THE REMOVAL OF THE SCAFFOLDING THAT CROWDED THE SPACE OVER THE BALCONY AND PORTIONS OF THE MAIN HALL FOR OVER SIX MONTHS WAS A CRITICAL STEP IN THE THEATER’S RENOVATION… HUGE BECAUSE FALL WAS FAST APPROACHING AND WITH IT THE RECENTLY ANNOUNCED GRAND OPENING DATE OF NOVEMBER 17TH… THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FOR US WAS THAT ONCE EVERYTHING STARTED TO BREAK DOWN, WE HAD TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERY ASPECT OF THAT CEILING WAS 100% AS WE CAME DOWN. SO WE HAD TO MAKE SURE THAT AHM, NOT ONLY THE LIGHT FIXTURES, BUT EVERY BIT OF PAINTING AND RESTORATION WAS COMPLETELY DONE, THE HVAC SYSTEM WAS AH, COMPLETELY DONE. THE GRILLS WERE IN PLACE. BECAUSE ONCE WE GOT DOWN, THERE WAS NO GOING BACK UP. NOW FREE OF SCAFFOLDING… SERIOUS WORK TO REBUILD THE BALCONY’S FLOOR AND RISERS SOON BEGAN… AS THE SPARKS FLEW IN WHAT WAS NOW A WIDE OPEN BALCONY THE CENTER OF THE MAIN HALL REMAINED CONGESTED WITH SCAFFOLDING. THIS WAS NECESSARY BECAUSE THERE WAS STILL ONE MORE EXTRAORDINARY, HISTORIC PIECE OF THE CEILING THAT HAD TO BE RESTORED… FOR MONTHS THE ARTISANS AT REFLECTION GLASS HAD BEEN BUSY IN THEIR STUDIO RESTORING HUGE GLASS PANELS THAT HAD BEEN REMOVED MONTHS EARLIER FROM ONE OF THE FOX THEATER’S MOST REVERED FEATURES …THE DRAMATIC SUNBURST LIGHT FIXTURE… SUSAN KIM JUST THE ENORMITY OF SOME OF THE PIECES IN THAT SUNBURST WAS A BIG CHALLENGE. WE DIDN’T ACTUALLY TAKE THOSE ONES APART, ALL WE DID WAS CLEAN THEM, PULL OUT BROKEN PIECES AND REPLACE THOSE. THERE WERE A LOT OF BB HOLES AND DIFFERENT THINGS THAT YOU COULDN’T EVEN SEE UNTIL WE GOT THE DIRT OFF THE GLASS. WE USED SOME DIFFERENT CLEANING CHEMICALS, WATER, SOAP, SCRUBBING, A LOT OF SCRUBBING. WHEN WE HAD TO PUT THEM BACK IN, A LOT OF THE SCAFFOLDING WE HAD WALKED DOWN TO GET THEM OUT WAS NOT THERE ANYMORE. SO TO TRY AND GET THEM BACK UP ENDED UP BEING VERY INTERESTING. THEY ACTUALLY TOOK THEM UP WITH A PULLEY, AND IT WAS FUN TO WATCH. I GUESS FUN’S THE RIGHT WORD. THE 11 FOOT WINDOWS ESPECIALLY, WERE VERY DIFFICULT TO PUT ON, BECAUSE THEY’RE BEING HELD AT AN ANGLE SUPPORTED BY A PIECE OF METAL ON THE FRONT FACE OF THE WINDOWS, AND BOLTS THAT GO STRAIGHT THROUGH THE LEADED GLASS AND THROUGH THE METAL. SO TO TRY AND GET 28 BOLTS LINED UP WITH THE HOLES AND GET THEM ON THERE, WAS VERY COMPLICATED. GLASS DOESN’T LIKE TO FLEX, SO THERE WERE A FEW BREAKS. WHICH WAS REALLY HARD TO WATCH, BECAUSE WE’D SPENT SO MUCH TIME WORKING ON GETTING THEM PERFECTLY CLEAN, PERFECTLY FIXED, AND BACK UP THERE IN ONE PIECE. IF WE HAD ANOTHER MONTH, WE COULD HAVE REPAIRED THOSE BROKEN PIECES, BUT THERE WASN’T TIME FOR THAT. SO THE BROKEN PIECES WERE CAULKED AND FOR THE MOST PART, THEY’RE FAR ENOUGH FROM THE FLOOR THAT THEY SHOULDN’T BE VERY NOTICEABLE. ONCE ALL THE AUDITORIUM RESTORATION WORK THAT REQUIRED THE USE OF SCAFFOLDING WAS FINISHED, WHAT SCAFFOLDING REMAINED WAS HASTILY REMOVED. IT WAS NOW OCTOBER AND WITH A HARD DEADLINE LOOMING THE ANXIETY LEVEL ALL AROUND THE WORK SITE WAS PALPABLE… THERE WERE A LOT OF SLEEPLESS NIGHTS. THERE WERE NIGHTS THAT I WOULD WAKE UP 2 OR 3 TIMES AND ACTUALLY WRITE THINGS DOWN. AHM, I HAD SO MUCH GOING AND I WAS BEING BOMBARDED FROM EVERY SUB ON THIS PROJECT, BECAUSE WE WERE STILL RUNNING INTO PROBLEMS, STILL HAVING DESIGN ISSUES. IT SEEMED LIKE EVERY TIME THAT I SAW THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, IT TURNED OUT TO BE A TRAIN, IT WAS ONE OF THOSE THINGS, YOU KNOW, BUT IT ALL CAME TOGETHER AND IT’S BECAUSE OF THE TOTAL TEAM EFFORT. EVERY WEEK WE HAD NOT ONLY PROGRESS MEETINGS WITH THE DESIGN TEAM AND THE OWNERS, BUT I PERSONALLY HAD MEETINGS WITH THE FOREMEN FROM ALL THE SUB CONTRACTORS. AND AH, I THINK THAT THAT WAS A CRITICAL PART OF IT. BECAUSE WE NEEDED TO KNOW WHERE WAS THE FLOW IN THE BUILDING. AND WHAT WAS OUR NEXT STEP. AND THEN IF WE HAD ISSUES, THEN WE WOULD TAKE THOSE TO THE TABLE, TO THE DESIGN TEAM. SO, HERE AGAIN, IT WAS IT WAS A TOTAL TEAM EFFORT AND MY ROLE WAS JUST TO KEEP EVERYBODY MOVING FORWARD, IT’S THAT SIMPLE. ONE OF THE LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARES FACING THE PROJECT MANAGERS AS THE RENOVATION HEADED TOWARDS THE FINISH LINE WAS THE LAYING OF NEW CARPET. THE LOBBY CARPET, WHICH WAS A NEAR REPLICA OF THE ORIGINAL 1931 CARPET IN COLOR & DESIGN, WAS THE LAST MAJOR PIECE OF THE FOX RESTORATION PUZZLE TO BE SET IN PLACE… SOME OF THE ISSUES, AH, ESPECIALLY WITH THE CARPET, WAS THAT IT’S A DOUBLE GLUE CARPET, WHICH MEANS THAT THEY GLUE THE PAD DOWN, THEN THEY GLUE THE CARPET TO THE PAD. THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS IT CAN HAVE NO FOOT TRAFFIC ON IT FOR 72 HOURS. SO, WHEN WE TURNED IT OVER TO THE CARPET GUY WE NEEDED TO HAVE A PLAN TO BE WORKING SOMEPLACE ELSE FOR AT LEAST THREE DAYS TO ALLOW THIS STUFF TO. AND THEN ONCE IT WAS DOWN, WE HAD TO COVER IT, WE COVERED IT WITH MEAT PAPER AND PLYWOOD, BECAUSE ANYTHING HEAVY THAT SAT ON IT WILL CREATE A DIMPLE IN THE CARPET. SO THAT WAS A BIG DEAL. FROM HANGING PRICELESS LIGHT FIXTURES OF EVERY SIZE AND SHAPE INSIDE TO INSTALLING PLENTY OF NEON OUTSIDE IN THE FORM OF A NEWLY REPLICATED “FOX” SIGN AND TWO COLORFUL MARQUEES, THE AMOUNT OF WORK COMPLETED OVER THE LAST 60 DAYS OF THE PROJECT LEADING TO THE SYMPHONY’S FIRST REHEARSAL IN THEIR NEW HOME WAS ASTOUNDING. AT TIMES THERE WERE AS MANY AS 80 CONTRACTORS WORKING THE SITE AT ONCE, AND ALL WITH ONE COMMON GOAL… GET IT DONE… I MEAN THERE WERE A THOUSAND THINGS THAT HAD TO BE DONE IN THE LAST 6-8 WEEKS. AND AHM, THERE WAS MOMENTS THERE THAT I HAD MY DOUBTS, BUT I DIDN’T EXPRESS THEM. THE CREW WAS OPTIMISTIC. I MEAN THEY THEY’D SAY “GOD, WE GOT A LOT OF TO DO”. BUT THEY NEVER SAID THEY COULDN’T GET IT DONE. I THINK TOWARDS THE END OF THE PROJECT WHEN THE SEATS WERE GOING IN AND THE WORK ON THE STAGE WAS BEING DONE, THE LIGHTS GOING IN THE SOUND SYSTEM GOING IN, AND AH KNOWING THAT WE WERE GETTING READY FOR THE INITIAL REHEARSALS THE END OF OCTOBER, I THINK THAT’S THE BEST DAY I FELT ON THE JOB. ALTHOUGH THERE WAS A LOT OF GOOD DAYS. BUT HAVING THAT FIRST REHEARSAL UNDER OUR BELT, THAT WAS, THEN YOU KNEW YOU WERE OVER THE HUMP. IN WHAT SEEMED LIKE A BLINK OF AN EYE WHAT EMERGED OUT OF THE DUST AND FRENZY PRODUCED BY A LAST SECOND PUSH TO GET THE JOB DONE WAS A FULLY RESTORED FOX THEATER FOR SPOKANE… AN INVITING, ART DECO BUT MODERN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER COMPLETE WITH NEW & IMPROVED SIGHTLINES, COMFORTABLE SEATING FOR OVER 1700 GUESTS, A MUCH-NEEDED STAGE CROSSOVER, EXPANDED LOBBY SPACE, MORE RESTROOMS, UPDATED DRESSING ROOMS, AN ELEVATOR, AND EVEN A BRAND NEW NAME, IN HONOR OF A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR WHOSE EARLY GIFT WAS INSTRUMENTAL TO THE PROJECT’S SUCCESS. NOW, ALL THAT WAS LEFT TO DO BEFORE OPENING NIGHT WAS TO MOVE THE SYMPHONY IN AND FINETUNE THE BUILDING… THIS WOULD BE AN EXTREMELY SENSITIVE TASK REQUIRING THE EXPERTISE OF PROFESSIONALS LIKE THE ACOUSTICAL ENGINEERS FROM JAFFE/HOLDEN OUT OF CONNECTICUT. INTERESTINGLY, THE FOX IS REALLY WHAT WE CALL A MOVIE HOUSE, A 1930S ART DECO MOVIE HOUSE. AND SO THE ACOUSTIC DESIGN WAS PRIMARILY TO REINFORCE AH, SPEECH AND MUSIC THAT CAME FROM BEHIND THE SCREEN. WHEN YOU’RE DEALING WITH A SYMPHONY, YOU’VE GOT 80 OR 100 DIFFERENT SOUND SOURCES, INSTRUMENTS ON STAGE, WHICH ARE PROJECTING IN MANY DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE NEEDED TO CALCULATE AND TO COME UP WITH AH, A DESIGN, A CONCEPT THAT WOULD TRANSFORM THE ACOUSTICS FROM A FILM SOUND ROOM INTO A MORE OF A SYMPHONIC ROOM. FOR THE NEW FOX THIS MEANT THE INSTALLATION OF AN ULTRA QUIET AIR HANDLING SYSTEM, THE REMOVAL OF SEATING UNDER THE BALCONY WHERE ACOUSTICS WERE POOR, AND MAKING SURE EVERY SURFACE WITHIN THE MAIN HALL WAS SOUND FRIENDLY… EVERY SURFACE PLAYS A PART IN THE ACOUSTICS. YOU CAN PAINT IT ANY COLOR YOU WANT, BUT THE MATERIAL, THE TEXTURES ON THE WALLS, THE FABRIC ON THE SEATS, AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE SEATS VERY CAREFULLY, THE BACKS ARE MADE OF WOOD, THAT’S FOR ACOUSTIC REASONS. SO EVERYTHING IN THE ROOM FROM THE ORCHESTRA SHELL ON STAGE TO THE CARPETING TO HOW THE BALCONY WAS REBUILT WAS TOTALLY TESTED TO MAKE SURE IT WAS THE RIGHT ACOUSTIC MATERIAL. ONCE ALL THE ACOUSTIC CHALLENGES PRESENTED BY THE FOX WERE ADDRESSED EITHER WITH DESIGN OR SURFACE TREATMENT, THE NEXT STEP IN TUNING THE BUILDING FOR OPTIMUM SOUND WAS MORE SUBJECTIVE… WELL, IT’S A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS AND WE WE’RE WORKING WITH THE MAESTRO ON THIS, AS WELL AS OTHER MUSICIANS AND AND MY ASSOCIATES, AHM, AND TOGETHER WE’RE AH, LISTENING TO VARIOUS DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE ORCHESTRA. BECAUSE IT REALLY IS A PROCESS OF SUBJECTIVE LISTENING THAT FINE TUNES IT ALL. WE CAN DO ALL THE OBJECTIVE CALCULATIONS AND NUMBERS, BUT WHEN IT REALLY COMES DOWN TO IT, IT HAS TO DO WITH HUMAN SUBJECTIVITY. AND OUR EARS ARE MUCH MORE SENSITIVE THAN ANY INSTRUMENT DESIGNED TO MEASURE SOUND. MAESTRO ECKART IS AHM, HE’S REALLY STARTING TO FEEL VERY POSITIVE ABOUT, JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING. IT’S JUST A PHENOMENAL SPACE. I MEAN WE ARE SO HAPPY BECAUSE IT JUST SOUNDS SO GREAT AND A HALL IS AN INSTRUMENT. I MEAN YOU ALWAYS PLAY WITH THE ACOUSTICS THAT THE HALL PROVIDES. AND SO THIS HALL IS JUST PHENOMENAL BECAUSE YOU GET ALL THIS FEEDBACK FROM THE HALL AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY PLAY WITH THE SOUND AND YOU CAN TEST CERTAIN THINGS OUT. AND SO THAT IS THE MAIN THING THAT WE REALLY HAVE A HALL THAT SOUNDS GREAT, AND I THINK IT WILL RAISE US TO A DIFFERENT LEVEL. I MEAN, YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO PLAY TO THE LEVEL OF THE HALL. IF THE IF THE HALL AHM, IS ACOUSTICALLY GREAT, THEN YOU HAVE TO LIVE UP TO THAT. RALPH WALDO EMERSON ONCE SAID, “THE REWARD OF A THING WELL DONE IS TO HAVE DONE IT… AFTER 7 YRS OF PLANNING, FUNDRAISING AND EXTRAORDINARY EFFORT TO RESTORE AND RENOVATE, THE TALE OF THE FOX, FOLLOWING SOME LAST MINUTE TOUCH UP, WAS ABOUT TO COME FULL CIRCLE. ON SATURDAY NOVEMBER 17TH 2007, SPOKANE’S FOX THEATER, FOR A SECOND TIME IN IT’S LONG HISTORY, WOULD CELEBRATE A GRAND OPENING… LIKE THE ORIGINAL IN 1931, THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY VERSION WOULD BE QUITE A GALA… IT WAS A WEEKEND AFFAIR HIGHLIGHTED ON SATURDAY BY A RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY HOSTED BY THE STATE GOVERNOR. THEN ON SUNDAY THERE WAS A SPECIAL COMMUNITY DAY FEATURING A VARIETY OF CULTURAL PERFORMANCES, WHICH THE NEW FOX IS LOOKING TO BE A CENTER FOR IN THE FUTURE. IN ADDITION, THE SPOKANE SYMPHONY CLOSED OUT EACH EVENING OF THE CELEBRATION WITH AN INSPIRED PERFORMANCE THAT YOU WOULD EXPECT FROM AN ORGANIZATON THAT HAD JUST FOUND NEW MEANING TO THE WORDS, “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.” IN MANY WAYS, IT WAS THE PERFECT SETTING TO MARK THE END OF AN INCREDIBLY LONG JOURNEY FOR THE PLACE SIMPLY KNOWN AS “THE FOX”… YET, FOR ALL WHO WERE THERE TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE THEATER’S NEW INCARNATION, IT WAS OBVIOUS AS THEY SOAKED UP EVERY SYMPHONIC NOTE RESONATING WITH CLARITY OFF THE BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED ART DECO SURROUNDINGS, THAT THIS WAS NOT THE END, BUT RATHER JUST THE BEGINNING FOR WHAT WAS NOW, SPOKANE’S 21ST CENTURY FOX… IT’S SUCH AN IMPORTANT PLACE FOR ME AND I THINK IT’S SUCH AN IMPORTANT PLACE FOR SPOKANE. I MEAN, THESE ARE THE THEATERS THAT CAN MAKE THE IDENTITY OF A CITY SO MUCH MORE UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT. AND IT’S SUCH AN AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE HISTORY OF SPOKANE, AND MY HISTORY, SO IT’S IT’S LIKE A PERFECT MARRIAGE OF THAT. I THINK THAT YOU CAN YOU CAN WORK WITH ARCHITECTS AND YOU CAN WORK WITH CONTRACTORS, AND YOU CAN HAVE AN IDEA KNOWING WHAT THE BUILDING LOOKED LIKE, OF WHAT IT CAN LOOK LIKE, BUT UNTIL ALL OF IT COMES TOGETHER, YOU REALLY HAVE NO IDEA, AND WITH THIS PARTICULAR PROJECT, WE’VE WORKED WITH A WONDERFUL TEAM OF BOTH NATIONAL EXPERTS AND LOCAL EXPERTS. AND IT’S BEEN DELIGHTFUL TO SEE ALL OF THE PARTS COME TOGETHER AND THE SUM IS MUCH MORE THAN THE PARTS. IT’S JUST BEEN A AMAZING TRANSFORMATION. WE HAVE A NICHE IN THE HISTORICAL RENOVATION SIDE OF THINGS, AND WE ALWAYS ENJOY BEING ABLE TO BRING OLD BUILDINGS BACK TO LIFE. IT’S IMPORTANT TO DO SO. I THINK THIS IS ONE THAT AH, THAT SPOKANE IS GOING TO RELISH BRINGING BACK TO LIFE FOR A LONG LONG TIME. I THINK BRINGING A A MOVIE HOUSE AH, OF THIS TYPE AND TURNING IT INTO A SYMPHONIC ROOM AND A MULTI-USE PERFORMANCE CENTER FOR ALL EVENTS, IS AN INCREDIBLY POSITIVE USE OF A RESOURCE THAT’S IN THE COMMUNITY, AND IT’S GONNA BE HERE FOR ANOTHER 50 OR 100 YEARS. AH, AND IT’S, I THINK IT’S SOMETHING PEOPLE WILL REALLY LOOK AROUND AND SAY, WOW, THIS IS A MAGNIFICENT BUILDING, AND THIS IS A TREASURE FOR SPOKANE. WHEN THE JOB IS DONE, WE KNOW THE DOORS OPEN AND OUR JOB IS DONE. THEN THE REAL WORK STARTS RIGHT. SO ON ONE LEVEL, YOU KNOW, DOES IT LOOK RIGHT, DOES IT FUNCTION RIGHT, DOES IT CREATE A FEELING IN THE PLACE THROUGH THE PAINT THAT’S ONE LEVEL. BUT THAT’S WHERE OUR JOB ENDS. THEN THERE’S ANOTHER JOB THAT GOES ON, WHICH IS REALLY THE MEASURE OF THE SUCCESS OF THE PROJECT IS IF THE COMMUNITY EMBRACES IT, AND IT’S UTILIZED. AND SO, HOPEFULLY, IF THE FOX BECOMES SOMETHING THAT IS RECOGNIZABLE AS A REPRESENTATION OF THE VITALITY OF THIS CITY, THEN IT’S REALLY ALIVE. THEN IT IS REALLY REBORN AND HAS ITS OWN LIFE. COMPARING CONCERT HALLS IN GENERAL, ALL OVER THE WORLD, IT’S VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND CONCERT HALLS THAT ARE THAT INSPIRING AND THAT BEAUTIFUL. I MEAN, THERE ARE SO MANY DULL CONCERT HALLS, AND HERE IT’S JUST VERY VERY UNIQUE. NOT ONLY FOR AMERICA BUT I THINK ALL OVER THE WORLD. I THINK FOR SPOKANE, IT’S JUST REALLY, I MEAN IT’S SOMETHING TO BE VERY VERY PROUD OF. YOU MAY ORDER YOUR OWN COPY OF THIS PROGRAM BY CALLING 1-800-735-2377. OR BY VISITING OUR SECURE WEBSITE AT KSPS.ORG “SPOKANE’S TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY FOX” IS A PRESENTATION OF KSPS PUBLIC TELEVISION, AND PRODUCED WITH THE SUPPORT OF THESE COMMUNITY PARTNERS… TOMLISON, WE’RE RIGHT AT HOME IN THE INLAND NORTHWEST. COLDWELL BANKER TOMLISON SERVING MOSES LAKE AND THE TRI-CITIES, WASHINGTON. BOISE, LEWISTON AND MOSOCW, IDAHO. TOMLISON SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY SERVING SANDPOINT AND COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO. TOMLISON REAL ESTATE IN SPOKANE SERVING ALL YOUR REAL ESTATE NEEDS THROUGHOUT THE INLAND NORTHWEST. SINCE 1974, INLAND NORTHWEST COMMUNITY FOUNDATION HAS BEEN CONNECTING PEOPLE WHO CARE WITH CAUSES THAT MATTER. TOGETHER WE HAVE IMPROVED COMMUNITIES WITH GRANTS FOR EDUCATION, THE ARTS, HUMAN SERVICES, THE ENVIRONMENT AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. WE ARE YOUR COMMUNITY FOUNDATION. JOHNSTON-FIX FOUNDATION WALKER CONSTRUCTION, SERVING THE COMMUNITY’S CONSTRUCTION NEEDS SINCE 1983, IS PROUD TO BE THE GENERAL CONTRACTOR FOR THE RENOVATION OF SPOKANE’S HISTORIC FOX THEATRE. AND BY VIEWERS LIKE YOU… MEMBERS OF THE FRIENDS OF SEVEN.

12 thoughts on “Spokane’s 21st Century Fox Theater

  1. This film is about an ORNATE COLLECTION OF BRICKS & MORTAR where HumanBeings went to view the art of cinematography !
    Presented here on medium that is renowned for having no boundaries , where technology long ago surpassed the oily composition of celluloid film.
    Its a proper "time piece" with some very qualified commentary and experts.
    What do you know about FOX television? , what do you know about William Fox ?

  2. I miss when it was a dollar movie theater in the 80's and 90's…but I admit that it does look a lot better now than it did back then!

  3. I use to go there when I was a kid. 25 cent movies on sat. there is the State theatre down the street. and there was a theater on wall street also. Spokane is a shit hole now the liberals have taken over.

  4. I AM AMAZED …IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL IF THIS WAS DONE TO ALL THE REMAINING THEATERS AROUND THE COUNTRY FOR THEIR HISTORICAL VALUE & CREATIVITY . IT IS BEAUTIFUL… THANK YOU………….

  5. Bravo. We discovered the Fox theater this past October for the Harry Potter show, thanks to the people that gave us the Spokane Symphony brochure at their Labor Day Liberty Lake performance – -and fell in love with it. This theater is majestic. We're returning March 16th for the Raiders Of The Lost Ark movie on Fox's new big screen with the symphony playing the movie's music. Then School Of Rock in May.

  6. The FOX has been a part of my whole life. May it last forever !! Spokane was a big deal because of the Davenport. It was a magnet for all the rich and famous snd even a President. Medical lake at the time had gambling houses and whore houses and there was a trolley that used to go from Spokane to Medical Lake . Spokane was the place to be in that time. The Fox Theatre was built for that reason.

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