Also known as the Fabulous Fox, the Fox Theater is a former movie palace, now a performing arts center located at 527 N. Grand Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri, situated in the arts district of the Grand Center area in Midtown St. Louis, the theater is located close in proximity to the northern portion of Saint Louis University. Home to a significant amount of history, the theater officially opened its doors back in 1929. Since then, it had been restored once in 1982.
History of The Fox Theater in Saint Louis, MO
Built by movie pioneer William Fox, the theater was named after the developer who showcased films from his Fox Film Corporation. The theater was also notorious for elaborate on-stage shows and lived performances. It is one of five Fox Theaters that Fox built during the last 1920s. The other locations could be found in Brooklyn, Atlanta, Detroit, and San Francisco.
The theater officially opened its doors to patrons on January 31, 1929. At the time, it was the second-largest theater in the United States, providing moviegoers with 5,060 seats to choose from. Also, at the time, it reigned supreme as St. Louis’s leading movie theater and remained that way up through the 1960s.
In coordination with William Fox, an architect specializing in theater construction, C. Howard Crane designed the theater. The theater is a unique, eclectic blend of Asian decorative motifs, sometimes referred to as Siamese Byzantine. The interior matches the same grandiose spectacle seen from the outside. During the time of the theater’s debut, reporters described the location as an “awe-inspiring fashioned after Hindoo (sic) Mosque of Old India, bewildering in their richness and dazzling in their appointments… striking a note that reverberates around the architectural and theatrical worlds.”
Due to the success of the theatre’s unveil, William Fox earned the nickname “Eve Leo Style,” which was also a tribute to his wife, who decorated the interior with furnishings, paintings, and sculptures she brought back with her from trips overseas.
1978 Closing of The Fox Theater
The theater officially closed in March 1978 but was quickly purchased by Fox Associates a few years later. The company invested more than $3 million into restoring the theater we know and love today. The theater itself cost $6 million to build back in 1929, which made the investment a no-brainer for the company. Following the restoration, the theater opened back up for the public in September 1982. When it came back to life, it premiered Broadway musical Barnum for theatregoers.
Today, the theater seats 4,192 theatregoers, plus 234 in the private Fox Club. In September 2007, the venue celebrated its 25th anniversary since reopening the theatre. To celebrate, the theater hosted Brian Stokes Mitchell and Linda Eder. Since then, the theater has been going strong, welcoming performers and musicians from around the world.
Unlike other theatres built around the same time, the Fox Theatre has managed to survive until today, now a versatile performing arts venue.
The likes of Kathy Griffin, Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, the Les Miserables cast, John Carpenter, and Pearl Jam have used the theaters’ stage.