Fox Theater (Spokane, WA)


Decorative motifs with twirling shapes painted in gold, blues and violets.

Detail of hand painted original fire curtain made and designed by Armstrong of Los Angeles for the Fox Theater.   Photo courtesy of Fox Theater

Spokane's Fox Theater was designed in 1931 by noted Seattle architect Robert Reamer with the interior design by Anthony Heinsbergen. Heinsbergen, a prominent designer who worked on the interiors of 757 theaters in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, created a storybook fantasyland in the theater. The auditorium, lobby, and mezzanine murals created the illusion of moving through an undersea world into a forest canopy of dense foliage, all illuminated by the theater's most significant feature: a 350-light, 60-foot-wide sunburst in the ceiling above the stage.

In 2004, the Fox Theater received an NEA Heritage & Preservation grant of $39,000 to assist with the theater's renovation, specifically in the conservation of the original fire curtains that hang over the stage. The total renovation is expected to take 15 to 18 months.

Experts in historic restoration called the interior a one-of-a-kind historic and decorative masterpiece. All the murals have suffered from environmental damage, temperature and humidity extremes, and general lack of maintenance. The fire curtains, however, are in better condition but still require cleaning to preserve their beauty. The curtains are composed of a series of vertical banners—in greens, blues, and golds—that frame a central medallion. They were made by Armstrong of Los Angeles; very few of Armstrong's curtains remain in existence.

Once the renovation is complete, the Spokane Symphony will become the theater's primary tenant and would occupy the building's performing arts space about a third of the time. The remainder would be used for events and performances by other regional and national arts organizations.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)