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Fox theater earns national restoration award

Wed., Oct. 20, 2010, midnight

The Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox is being recognized nationally with a preservation award for the $31 million restoration completed in 2007.

The Fox, at Sprague Avenue and Monroe Street in downtown Spokane, is one of 23 projects nationwide that will be honored Oct. 29 at the annual conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Austin, Texas.

A combination of grants, private donations and tax incentives were used to finance the project, including a $3 million gift from Spokane businesswoman Myrtle Woldson in honor of her father, Martin Woldson.

The theater project also benefited from 900 individual donations totaling $1.1 million in a communitywide Save the Fox drive in 2000.

The Fox opened in 1931 as a moviehouse and served as a venue for live performances by Hollywood celebrities.

During restoration, floor-to-ceiling scaffolding filled the theater for months. Huge hunks of foam were fastened around ornate furnishings such as staircase railings.

The addition of an inner lobby on the main floor reduced the seating from an original configuration of 2,350 to 1,727.

William Fox of Fox West Coast Studios, precursor to 20th Century Fox, presided over construction of nearly 280 Fox theaters around the country, using teams of designers and artisans in each city.

The Fox motif in Spokane is derived from a Hollywood interpretation of the period’s art deco style through the eye of Dutch-born designer Anthony Heinsbergen.

Receipt of the award later this month comes two years before the trust brings its annual National Preservation Conference to Spokane.

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