Friday, May 14, 2010

VIisit the Beautiful Fox Theater

Designed by the firm of Batch and Stanberry, this Mission Revival theater opened as a combination cinema/vaudeville house. With the death of vaudeville, the space formerly occupied by the large stage was converted to a cinema, fronting Seventh Street, in 1942. Due to its proximity to Hollywood, the Fox served through the 1960's as a choice motion picture preview house. The first public screening of "Gone With the Wind" took place in this building.

Survey Description

This large theater building is composed of a central block with a parapet, two-level roof, and fly tower surrounded on the two street sides by a Spanish Colonial Revival entry and storefront section that has typical features of the style such as smooth plaster wall, red clay tile roofs, exposed rafters, look-out beams, arches, and timber lintels. The ground plan is essentially rectangular with a main auditorium and lobby forming the central portion. The structure is dominated by a four-story tower at the corner. The most significant aspects of the Fox Theater are the Market and Seventh Street facades which flank the main auditorium structure. The deeply-shaded street-level arcade, arched openings, second-level balconies with iron rails and paired-wood casements, tile roofs, gabled-ended entries, and central-tower entry provided a unified street presence. Each arcade is constructed of masonry piers which support bay arches covered with white plaster. The Seventh Street arcade has nine arches while the Market Street arcade has six. At the end of each arcade is a front-gabled two and a half story pavilion. Both pavilions contain two of the arcade arches on the first level. The shops along each arcade, or cloister, have wood trim moldings around the doorways and red tiles covering the walkway. Colorful Spanish tiles are mounted on the base of the wall. Details on the first story level include brass escutcheon hardware, wood mullions, and molding around the windows. The second story is supported by the arcade walkways of the first story. The second floor of each pavilion features two sets of paired casement windows with wooden mullions that are fronted by Spanish wrought iron balconies. The gabled attic of each pavilion exhibits an inset quatrefoil window with grill. The Seventh Street second-story facade has seven pairs of casement windows that are identical to those found on the pavilions. It also has a balcony with half piers that seem to be an extension of the cloister below. The Market Street second-story facade has four sets of windows fronted by an iron balcony and concrete posts which support the overhanging grill work. The three-story octagonal tower, located over the entrance at the junction of Seventh and Market Streets, is a continuation of the two wings with minor architectural differences. The ground floor has piered arches on each side, but the entrance is set diagonally to the five pairs of metal-and-glass doors which complete this level. On the second floor, a set of three casement windows with moldings are found on each side of the tower. The tower itself is decorated with Spanish motifs at this level. At the third level, a large quatrefoil window and grill is featured, and three tapered steps on each corner mark the transition from the four-sided tower to the octagonal bell-tower base. The bell-tower is a cupola, or vault, with an added open arch on each face of the turret with iron grillwork underneath. A belfry is situated on top of the cupola with a flagpole emanating from the structure. The theater ticket office is located under the tower arch, within the exterior facade. The visible sections of the roof are covered with red barrel tiles. These sections include two shed roofs over the Seventh and Market Street arcades, the front-facing gabled roofs over the two pavilions, and the two octagonal roofs of the central tower. The two rear facades which face north and west are of poured concrete and are completely void of architectural decoration. The north facade faces a narrow alleyway, while the west facade faces a small parking lot. The foundations for the entire theater building are reinforced concrete, surface-spread footings.

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