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Fox Theatre

Photo from the Scott Neff collection.
15 Maple St
Watsonville CA 95076

Record #3081  
 Opened: 1923
 Closed: 2009
 Current Use:
Capacity: 600 seats
Architect(s): G Albert Landsburgh
Architectural Style(s): Spanish Colonial
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: California

Information for this tour was contributed by Tom DeLay.

The original architect was G. Albert Landsburgh. A 1940s remodel was performed in the Fox/West Coast-Skouras style, but leaving major parts of the auditorium intact, e.g. organ grills.

From the Fox Theatre:

Watsonville's Historic Fox Theater is one of Santa Cruz County's oldest movie theaters. Originally built in 1924, complete with a balcony and over 1,000 seats, it was once called the California Theater. The theater was the site for many live plays and musical reviews with performers coming from as far away as New York City to grace the stage. Since then the theater has seen many changes take place. The original decor is still intact, including organ lofts in the beautiful auditorium. The original architecture is a sight to be seen. Many historians periodically visit the Fox just to look at the molding and beautiful art work.

In 1982 the Fox was given a face lift. The entire building was painted inside and out, new carpet was installed and the seats were re-upholstered. This was the first renovation in over 25 years. It was during this time that the Pajaro Valley Arts Council took up a new interest in the old Fox. Everyone's dream of having live concerts again at the Fox became a reality when the remodel was complete. It was in the 80's and 90's that the Fox was the place to watch many wonderful performances by the Santa Cruz Symphony, the Annual Free Spring Concert and Christmas Concerts of the world famous Watsonville Band. In 1986 the world premier of "La Bamba: The Richie Valens Story" lit up the screen with the producers, actors, actresses and the Valens family in attendance. It was truly a night to remember.

Tragically in 1989 the Loma Prieta earthquake shook the downtown Watsonville area causing a neighboring building to collapse into the old Fox Theaters' grand lobby, causing extensive damage. With the devastation of the earthquake being felt throughout the county, the Fox remained closed for nearly 2 years. In 1991 the theater was reborn with a new look. New construction took place and the entrance of the theater was moved from Main St. to Maple St. A restaurant was added to replace the old lobby on Main St. The Fox reopened with Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and once again the Fox was alive. Unfortunately with the growing movie industry and the vast amount of new theaters being built the Fox could not compete being a single screen theater. In 1992 the balcony was converted into 2 movie theaters to provide customers with more movie choice and to keep the Fox alive amongst the new competition. The conversion was kept simple in the event the theater was ever needed to be converted back to it's original state. The downstairs auditorium was left the same so people would still experience movies on the enormous 20 by 40 foot screen. This size of screen enhances the movie viewers visual experience and is still the largest indoor movie screen in Santa Cruz County.

Because of the large stage and it's "flying screen" (retractable screen), the Fox is one of the few theaters in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties that can still be easily converted to show live plays or concerts.

In 1996 the Fox saw yet another change when the old seats in the downstairs auditorium were replaced with new, comfortable, spacious, cup holder seats. The Fox continues to show great movies with a great atmosphere that keeps the downtown area alive.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

August 1999 photos from the Scott Neff collection.

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November 1997 photos from the Scott Neff collection.

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Photos from the John Tarantino collection.

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Last featured 11/23/2003. Last edited 8/29/2010.

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