A tale of two Foxes

Courtesy of my mom, I have here a special 10-page section of the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review of Nov. 11, 2007 about that city’s newly restored Fox Theater.

It’s quite a section, and for John Clifford and others who might be interested in getting one by mail, perhaps a call to the newspaper’s circulation department would bear fruit. Either that, or maybe your mothers have copies saved for you too.

To summarize matters, the Spokane Fox opened in September 1931, just five months after Pomona’s, and closed in 2000, just as Pomona’s did (although movies stopped being shown here some years previously).

Spokane’s Fox had 2,350 seats, compared to Pomona’s 1,711. Spokane’s construction budget was $1 million, Pomona’s $300,000. Spokane’s was called a “deluxe” Fox akin to those in St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit and Beverly Hills. A vintage photo shows the theater’s exterior looked remarkably like Pomona’s, only with a really lame sign on top. At least we got Spokane beat on that.

The theater, now 1,636-1,727 seats, will be home to the Spokane Symphony, which bought the building for $3 million, as well as to opera, pop and dance performances and high school graduations. Pomona’s, which will also lose a few seats from the original size for access reasons, will have pop and rock performances, movies and community events.

A new life for the Spokane Fox began when word came in 2000 that the theater might be razed for a parking lot. After fund-raising, work began in late 2005 and concluded last fall. Cost was $31 million, including a $4.5 million operating endowment. As of publication the total raised was $28.5 million. “More than 1,000 donors pitched in to the ‘Save the Fox’ campaign,” the newspaper reported.

Pomona’s restoration is said to be around $8 million, financed privately and with government tax credits, with additional restoration (chandeliers, a pipe organ and other flourishes) possible later with private fund-raising. The City Council bought the theater in January 2002 for $1.1 million and it was sold to private owners in December.

Our Fox is slated to reopen in December. Can’t wait.

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  • John Clifford

    David,

    While I haven’t (yet?) contacted circulation. I did go to their web site (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/sections/foxtheater/), which included not only the stories from the special section, but also a video of the history of the Spokane Fox (http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/video/archive.asp?postID=304). It’s a truly inspirational success story and I hope that it can be replicated in our own inimitable way here in Pomona.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  • Dwain Kaiser

    I have very fond memories of attending shows at the Fox. Along with a number of friends I managed to make the very last film showing there. What a delight, what a sad evening.

    Dwain

  • Jim

    Downtown Pomona, I lived in Spokane. I knew the City of Spokane. Spokane was a friend of mine. Pomona, you’re no Spokane…

    [With apologies to the late Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. -- DA]

  • Kristin McConnell

    My sister lives there and we contemplated moving up there, too. The last time I was there, I remember the work being done on the Fox.

    It’s funny, it was going to be razed for parking? Parking IS at a premium at the River Front. Can you believe that it costs money to park at the River Front Mall, just as if you were going to the Beverly Center in LA? We couldn’t believe it!

    I’m still very glad the theatre was saved. :)

  • Anonymous

    Pomona’s Fox Theater to reopen in December…don’t hold your breath on that.

    [I can't hold my breath that long anyway. -- DA]

  • John Clifford

    Anon,

    Right now we’re working toward a December 11 opening (skeptics sometimes respond to an exact date). Everything is finally in place and construction is proceeding. This is unlike earlier predictions (yes I remember when it was to be July 2008, or earlier) as it’s got an actual construction schedule behind it. Now weather, etc. can affect it, but we’re all looking forward to walking down the red carpet on Dec. 11.

    [I'm marking my calendar. In pencil, yes, but I'm marking it. -- DA]