Review & Pictures
1807 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
About Fox Theater -
The Fox Theater originally opened its doors in October 1928 an a movie palace to experience music, a live stage show and one of the latest innovations, the “talkies” that were replacing silent films. One of the biggest draws was the massive domed theater itself, an opulent and exotic mix of terra cotta tiles, dizzyingly detailed paintings and golden deities, reminiscent of a Brahmin Temple.
With the advent of the television and changes in the downtown area, the Fox could np longer sustain and closed its doors in 1966. Through the years, the Fox escaped the wrecking ball more than once, but suffered fires, leaky roofs, decay and graffiti. Its increasingly shabby condition led it to be derided as “the largest outdoor urinal in the world.” Still, the theater escaped an attempt to raze it for a parking lot in 1975 and was named a city landmark in 1978.
That same year, Piedmont residents Erma and Mario DeLucchi bought the property at auction for $340,000 in hopes of restoring it and saving it from the fate of San Francisco’s Fox Theater, which had been demolished in 1963. The couple had gone on Saturday night dates at the Oakland Fox as high school sweethearts in the early 1930s. But Mario died soon after they bought the theater, and the project never got under way.
In 1996, the city, under the leadership of Mayor Elihu Harris, bought the building from Erma DeLucchi for $3 million. Soon after the city purchased the Fox, an Oakland native Phil Tagami, approached city officials about restoring the theater. Tagami began searching for additional funding, leading to a complex financing and ownership structure that combines city redevelopment money with grants, tax credits and even billboard revenue. Years in the making, the project has gone through 28 public hearings, plus another three dozen meetings on community outreach and local hiring for construction.
Finally, after over 40 silent years, the Fox Theater re-opened its doors as a live music venue, arts school, and restaurant – its aged and rain-damaged interior restored to its once-breathtaking beauty.