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Fox Theatre

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The Fox Theater has been a fixture in downtown Centralia since it opened in 1930. The Fox showcased first-run films, Fox Movietone newsreels, and the best-known vaudeville performers of the day. It was billed as "the finest playhouse between Portland and Seattle".

Originally the smallest of the Twentieth Century Fox chain of movie theaters, the structure was built by W.T. Butler Company of Seattle at a cost of $200,000. Over the decades, Fox has had a number of local, regional, and national owners.

In 1982, American General Luxury Cinemas converted the building into a triple-screen facility by dividing the balcony to form two 250-seat screening rooms and retaining the 500-seat main auditorium. The last movie was shown in 1998.

{2}The exterior brick of varied colors represents angular geometric forms, accented by vertical lines. The southern exterior wall is the base for three of the dozen historic murals found throughout Centralia. The high west wall of the fly space still shows the motto "The Last Word in Talking Picture Entertainment!"

Inside the proscenium, which remains in its original form, features carving and gold-leaf overlay. The stage still has all the hardware and fly space rigging needed for live performances. Chandeliers hanging from the 35-foot high ceiling are a starburst design with brightly colored flares radiating from the center. Original seats were upholstered in leather. The theater retains its integrity of design, materials, workmanship, and location.

Dominating the center of the orchestra pit in front of the 24-foot high, 30-foot wide screen was a Balcom & Vaughn 2/10 pipe organ. For nearly 40 years, Eddie Zollman brought the instrument to life, from opening night until his last concert on May 25th, 1969. Though currently dismantled, the organ is now stored in the theater and awaits installation.

Facing the possible loss of the theater, the city of Centralia purchased the Fox in May 2000. Sensitive to the historical nature of the building, the city placed several conditions on redevelopment options, mandating that the space be used as a convention center, that the outside of the venue, including its marquee, be restored to its original condition, and that community activities may be held in the renovated space.

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