During the 1930’s and 40’s, it was commonplace for stars such as Katharine Hepburn, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to visit Spokane, WA and grace the stage of the historic Fox Theater. A modern marvel when its doors opened in 1931, the venue was constructed to bridge the divide between the classic world of vaudeville and silent movies and the brand new world of “talkies.”
Walking into the venue today is like stepping back in time to the golden age of Hollywood. Gorgeous art deco designs and vibrant colors evoke a classic aesthetic and underscore the Theater’s unique contribution to the arts and performance community in Spokane. But it was not too long ago that the Fox Theater was slated to be torn down and turned into a parking lot.
Though the building remained a popular spot for the latest movie or performance into the 1970’s and 80’s, decades of wear and tear began to show on the theater. As the millennium approached, it appeared the days were numbered for one of Spokane’s most beloved cultural hubs.
Thankfully, an intrepid team of business professionals and volunteers galvanized community support to save, restore and preserve the Theater in the mid 2000’s. The Murdock Trust contributed a $400,000 grant to help support the extensive restoration process which included chemically peeling the walls of the building to remove decades of cigarette smoke and popcorn oil in order to bring the building’s vibrant designs back to life.
Members of the Murdock Trust staff were encouraged by the opportunity to tour the theater during a recent visit to Spokane, and see the wonderful results of our partnership. In addition, the Fox Theater staff graciously opened the venue to about 200 other local nonprofits for a midday reception. Murdock Trust team members had the opportunity to meet these hard working representatives from Washington and Idaho, connect with new friends and build new relationships as we learned about the myriad communities and needs they are serving and better understand how we can partner together to support the common good moving forward.
We are grateful to the team at the Fox Theater, both for their tireless efforts to preserve a historic venue and thereby serve the broader arts and culture community, but also for their gracious hospitality. For more information on the latest shows and acts coming to the Fox Theater, please visit their website.