Fox Theater, 1974

This building began life in 1911 as the Heilig Theater, originally staging live theater, and was converted to a movie house in 1929. It was named Mayfair Theater in the 1930s-40s and again renamed to Fox Theater in the 1950s. It had a quite impressive Art Deco ticket booth. The Music Box theater dates to 1960, converted from existing building space. The entire block was demolished 1997 and replaced by the Fox Tower. This view is looking southwest at SW Broadway and Yamhill.

(University of Oregon Libraries)

16 thoughts on “Fox Theater, 1974

  1. If I’m not mistaken, didn’t 6th AVE Records use to be located between the Music Box and the Gay Blade ? And on the corner north side of the Fox was Morris Rogoway Jewelers ?

  2. One of the things I’m saddest about, is some of the theaters in Portland I’ll never have the chance to see – the Fox, the Oriental, the Hollywood as it was in its heyday. There’s something kind of fascinating about theaters to me, and it’s sad to see them torn down and replaced with modern buildings that have no interest or appeal. I don’t have a problem with modern architecture in general, except that so much of it tends to have ‘do it as cheaply as possible’ as the primary project goal.

  3. Dave…and let’s not forget the Broadway theater! I will never forget that neon signage!

    Fred W…Good ol’ 6th Avenue Records, where one could actually listen to a record prior to buying it in a “listening booth”. They had those at Meier & Franks too! 7th floor?

  4. SW Broadway used to live up to its name and was lined with theaters. In a way it’s too bad the theaters are gone now but there wasn’t good parking and less demand for movies and the property was valuable for high rise office buildings…

  5. Here’s the final bill for the lamented old Mayfair in about 1953 or 54 before the closing for the remodeled Fox :” Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein ” ; ” Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man” ; ” Abbott & Costello Meet Dracula ” and ” Abbott & Costello Meet the Wolfman ” . A whole Saturday of scary movies for 25 cents. When the house lights came up after the “A & C Meet Marathon” the wrecking crews were already unbolting the seats in the loge section of the main floor and we were really hustled out the front door. Great memories of a kid in Downtown Portland and old friends who shared these adventures no longer with us.

  6. It’s interesting that this photo shows the newer Music Box playing a first run picture, while the grander Fox appears to be showing grindhouse fair. If that’s the case, the Fox went back to first run pictures by the time I arrived in town.

    I remember the Fox as one of the few old style theaters that did not submit to the partitioning fad of the 70s and 80s for gaining additional screens. Even thought the decor was from the fifties, it was a roccoco wonderland inside. I’ve also seen photos of the interior of its predecessor, the Mayfair (previously the Heilig). It too, was a palatial spectacle. Apparently, a remnant of Portland’s segregationist past was uncovered during demolition; the Mayfair’s third balcony that had been plastered over as part of the 50s remodel (the ceiling had also been lowered as part of the remodel).

    I wish I had been able to see the interior of J.J. Parker’s Broadway theater prior to its partitioning and terrible makeover. The balcony was turned into a second screen. the second floor lounge was turned into a third screen, and the backstage was a fourth screen. IIRC, it was called the Director’s Theater? I wonder if the Tora! Tora! Tora! mural was saved? That was kinda kitchy cool.

    A similar partitioning was done to the Bagdad Theater. Thank goodness McMenamin’s has a sense of history and preservation and converted it back near its original glory.

  7. I was thinking that the photos of the linked ticket booth did not appear as shiny as I remembered. The good news is that apparently the Oregon Fox Theater wasn’t the only one.

    Here a link to a photo of the restored Oakland Fox’s ticket booth. That’s how I remember the Portland one.

  8. The Music Box opened January 20, 1960 with 640 seats, a 38-foot wide screen designed for 70mm film, Phillips Todd-AO projectors and an Ampex six-track sound system. The blockbuster Ben-Hur opened that night and it played for exactly a year. Exodus replaced it on January 20, 1961.

  9. I worked at the Fox in the summer of ’89. My older brother was the assistant manager and he took me up to the area above the suspended ceiling, where the benches for African-American patrons were. And that’s all they were, benches … the cushions were simply hay covered with cheap leather. There was also a ticket window up there. The jewelry store got broken into one night; the area next to the south staircase that held a potted plant was the ceiling of the jewelry store. Some folks probably hid in the balcony and used a stanchion to smash through the plaster and get into the jewelry store.

  10. I think the last show I saw at the Fox was Concrete Blonde in February 1991. I miss that venue.

  11. McDermd – I was at that show. Didn’t some drunk get up on stage, propose to Johnette Napolitano, then do a stagedive/faceplant?

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  13. what a shame all thoes theaters where so beautiful all that brick and stone and the hand made neon sings from the 1940s broadway is not broadway anay more

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