The Fabulous Fox
Theatre Restoration
On a cold January morning in 1981 Leon and Mary Strauss first saw the Fox Theatre. With the aid of flashlights and one working light bulb, the Strausses discovered the hidden magic of the splendid theatre beneath the dirt and grime of 52 years. It was love at first sight and the rest is St. Louis history. Banding together as Fox Associates, Leon Strauss, Robert Baudendistel, Dennis McDaniel and Harvey Harris privately purchased the movie palace from the Arthur family. With Mary Strauss as director of restoration, there began a one year, $2 million plus restoration program under the aegis of Pantheon Construction Company.

  Relamping the auditorium chandelier.
(Bob Kolbrenner)
The initial months were spent researching every facet of the building and developing a detailed work schedule. A conservator was called in to test all surfaces and make recommendations for their cleaning. The burnt-out electrical systems had to be fixed. A leaking roof had to be repaired and eventually replaced. Serious plumbing and mechanical problems had to be overcome. With the worklights in place, a huge crew climbed scaffolding lifts, and ladders to begin the massive clean up job.

A conscious decision was made to restore the theatre as closely as possible to its 1929 state of magnificence. With scrupulous attention to detail, thousands of square feet of ornate plaster work were recreated on site. Original glazes and colors were duplicated. Craftsmen used a technique known as scagliola to create plaster columns which appear to be marble. 7300 yards of elephant carpet, duplicating the original pattern from 1929, were especially designed and woven for the Fox. Each of the 4500 seats had to be removed, renovated and re-installed. Missing art glass was authentically reproduced. The magnificent 2,000 pound chandelier in the auditorium was lowered, cleaned and relamped. Missing brass light fixtures and door pulls were reproduced. During the renovation, workers literally rediscovered the brass ticket vestibule and brought it back to life. The spacious, opulent men's and ladies' smoking lounges were decorated and furnished using 1929 original photographs of the "Eve Leo style".

The stage and backstage areas had to be completely transformed and updated to accommodate a wide spectrum of contemporary entertainment. New state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems were installed. The rigging was completely overhauled. The loading dock was relocated. The original jeweled house curtain was cleaned and a new travelling house drape was installed. Five floors of the dressing room stack were renovated, with each floor receiving new plumbing, electricity, paint, and carpeting. The star's dressing room was decorated with antiques and an Oriental carpet.
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  The Fox Theatre is located at 527 N. Grand Blvd, St. Louis, MO, 63103
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