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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Detail of interior

Detail of interior

Street elevation (J. Draeger photo, 2003)

117 South Washington Street, Green Bay, Brown County
Architect: L.P. Larsen (United Studio Chicago)
Date of Construction: 1929

The Fox Theater is a significant 1930s "atmospheric" movie theater. Atmospheric movie theaters were decorated in an exotic theme representing outdoor gardens and/or small town streetscapes in an attempt to heighten the sense of escape offered by motion pictures and theater performances. In typical fashion of the time, the Art Deco exterior stands in strong contrast to its lavishly ornamented interior, creating a transition from "reality" to fantasy on the interior. Opened in 1930, the theater still retains much of its original appearance, despite having been subdivided into three theaters in 1978.

The theater's front stands three stories in height and is constructed of lightly colored cream glazed brick. Its Art Deco design is dominated by a strong vertical emphasis created by vertical concrete insets resting upon bands of terra-cotta blocks. The upper windows stand directly upon the 1960s marquee.

The lavish interior of the Fox Theater consists of three public spaces: the two-story lobby, two semicircular hallways, and the theater itself. The lobby's Spanish Colonial Revival design is dominated by two wide staircases. Most of the interior public spaces are finished in a heavy, rough plaster applied to resemble Spanish stucco. The ornamental features including grilles and moldings are of cast plaster or metal, and are very elaborate in detail. The Spanish style decoration is best seen in the atmospheric theater space. Side walls are heavily plastered and built to resemble exterior silhouettes of Spanish buildings set against a backdrop of trees. As originally constructed, the theater had a lighting system concealed in the blue painted ceiling that created the visual effect of stars and clouds moving across a sky.

The Fox Theater opened on Valentine's Day, 1930, with a gala event that drew thousands of guests, including an assortment of Fox officials and dignitaries from Milwaukee. The program included footage from Green Bay Packer game victories, a recital on the theater's organ, other live events, a feature film, and a cartoon.

The theater is open to the public during normal showings and events.


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