Built in 1931 as an Art Deco movie theater, the Fox Theater in Spokane, WA, is now a performing arts center and home to the Spokane Symphony. Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect, designed it. Among his many notable work, architectural designer Robert C. Reamer designed the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. He established the Fox Film Corporation, which comprised this studio. The theater first opened its doors on September 3, 1931, and it stayed open until September 21, 2000, when it closed after a showing of Russell Crowe’s picture Gladiator.

When the Fox Theater was opened on September 3, 1931, it could hold a total of 2,350 people (1,450 on the ground level and 900 in the balcony). Celebrities that attended the opening night celebration included Anita Page, Mitzi Green, George O’Brien, Victor McLaglen, and El Brendel. Onlookers throng to the streets outside the theater in expectation of free outdoor entertainment and a glimpse of the celebrities being taken from the Davenport Hotel, which was estimated to have a total population of 20,000.

The sleek modern art deco front of the building surprised many people when they saw it, in contrast to the Italianate renderings that had been published in the Spokesman-Review. The interior decorations were praised by several contemporary media sources as very lovely.

“It’s so strange, odd, and futuristic,” the Spokesman-Wilbur Review’s Hindley observed, “that even a casual observer catches his breath in surprise and wonder.” The interior décor, which includes hand painted murals of undersea flora and etched glass light panels, was designed with aluminum and glass rather than traditional marble and wood, according to Hindley.

Following a live performance of Fanchon and Marco’s About Town, the Fox screened Merely Mary Ann, which was followed by a reception. There was a performance by Laurel and Hardy as well as a free concert by the Fox Theater Orchestra for ticket holders.

Mixing traditional vaudeville-style live entertainment with fashionable Hollywood talkies was part of the theater’s long-term economic plan, and this blend mirrored the shifting interests of the broader public. Movies have evolved into a low-cost technique of avoiding the Great Depression’s hardships. The Fox Theatre was Spokane’s primary performing arts venue for the first three decades of its existence.

Visit The Davenport Hotel – Spokane WA