Fox Fullerton

510 N. Harbor Blvd.

Fullerton CA 92832       | map |

Website: | on Facebook

May 28, 1925 as Chapman’s Alician Court Theatre with Tom Mix in “Dick Turpin” plus vaudeville acts, a prologue and the Chapman's Alician Court Theatre Orchestra. Prominent businessman C. Stanley Chapman was behind the venture. The Alician Court name was an homage to his wife Alice Ellen.

"A big event in the history of Fullerton" noted a flyer for
 the opening night, a copy of which appears on the theatre's
 Facebook page. It promised that for the opening
"Motion pictures of the crowd will be taken."
full size view

They initially changed programs three times a week. Other opening week features included Dorothy Devore in “The Narrow Streets" and Rin Tin Tin in “Tracked in the Snow Country.”  The theatre was allegedly the first Orange County theatre wired for sound.

It's also been known as the Alician Court Theatre, Mission Court Theatre. Later as part of the Fox West Coast circuit it was known as the Fox Mission and, finally the Fox Fullerton.  Fox's successor companies National General and Mann Theatre's later operated the theatre.

Architects: Meyer & Holler, with Raymond Kennedy the principal designer for the firm.  See our blogspot posts for other theatre work by Meyer & Holler.

The Fox Fullerton, like the Egyptian and Chinese theatres done in Hollywood by the firm, had an entrance through an open forecourt.  Here, though, the style of decoration was distinctly Italian.

This was Kennedy's first theatre, although he had done a number of other high profile projects.

A photo of Raymond Kennedy from a post
by Christopher Crouch on Cinelog in 2010.

Crouch notes that many lessons learned on the Fullerton project were later put to use on Grauman's Chinese, which opened in 1927. But the theatre work wasn't to continue for long:

"After leaving Meyer and Holler, following the company’s depression era collapse, Mr. Kennedy divided his time between teaching at the University of Southern California and being a stage designer for several major film studios; briefly departing for Washington D.C. to take part in the design of the Pentagon. Raymond Kennedy wrapped up his illustrious career designing municipal buildings, for two leading California based architectural firms, retiring in 1960, at the age of 69."

The murals in the theatre were by the Heinsbergen Co. with John Gabriel Beckman being the lead artist. Those in the balcony lobby are still intact.

Seating: 1,095 originally on main floor and balcony, 908 after a reseating.

Later History: The theatre got a Fox West Coast modernization in the 50s which involved a screen frame out in front of the proscenium for the Cinemascope screen and yards and yards of draperies.  Plaster ornament protruding from the organ grille areas was lost. Auditorium murals murals were painted over in the 70s.

In the later years of operation there was a restaurant onstage.

The City of Fullerton shut down the building in 1987 due to the owner's lack of interest in doing a seismic retrofit. The City ended up owning it.

The Fullerton Fox Theatre foundation bought the building from the City of Fullerton in 2005, thanks to the help of a $1 million anonymous donation they received.  At the time they anticipated its renovation cost at $10 million. Now, the projected budget is $24 million.  They've received a grant of $2 million from the State of California and a $6 million loan from the local Community Redevelopment Agency.

The City has retained a stake in the project and has assisted with, among other aspects, performing the seismic retrofit work.

The foundation hired AMS Planning & Research to do a study of the theatre's proposed operation. Their estimate was that it'll earn about 70 percent of its operating budget from facility rentals, ticket sales, service charges and fees. The rest will need to be raised from donations.

Status: Under renovation. But the city is allowing the Foundation to do shows inside the theatre on a case-by-case basis. The initial phases of the work have focused on rehabilitating the surrounding retail spaces and getting them leased to provide an income stream.

The group has also done a number of outdoor fundraisers in recent years "Movies On The Fox" where they project films on the back wall of the stagehouse and have people bring their own chairs.

More Information:  See Christopher Crouch's OC Cinema page on the Fox Fullerton for lots of interesting data and photos.

The Cinema Treasures page on the theatre has many interesting comments and 19 photos of the building, including some interior views. The Cinema Tour page on the theatre has 27 exterior views from the 2003-2007 period.  Wikipedia also has a page on the theatre with a 2008 exterior view.

See the 2013 story in the UC Fullerton newspaper, The Daily Titan: "Fullerton Fox Theatre: curtain may rise in 3 to 5 years."   The Titan had also done a 2009 story "Fox Theatre still shines."

There's a 2 minute clip on YouTube touring the theatre in 2010. The L.A. Times ran a 2008 story about the renovation project.

Amy Cortland Alspaugh has a fine 2015 Visiting the Fox Theatre Fullerton album of 32 photos on Facebook.

A proscenium and organ grille detail.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015

Note one of the the wild creatures at right guarding
the stage from the top of the proscenium column.

The restored ceiling showing off the
fixtures newly retrofitted with LEDs.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015

See more of Sandi's fine photos of the Fox on her 2015 Avoiding Regret
photo essay "Fox Theatre Fullerton, 90 Years Old and Starting Over."

    American Classic Imges

A 1983 look at the entrance.
full size view | on FB/LATheatres

    Celluloid Junkie

A June 2014 "Daily Cinema Digest" post offers this
 fine look toward the rear of the auditorium.
full size view

    Fox Fullerton online |

The Fox Fullerton in 1940 running "Buck Benny
Rides Again." Note the big Firestone garage on the right.
The postcard appears on the theatre's Facebook page.

A look along a wall of the forecourt
 in a 2012 Facebook photo.
The vista down from the
forecourt's 2nd floor in 2012.
In the main lobby looking west toward
the forecourt in 2012. The stairs at the
 right get you to the balcony. 
on the Fox FB page

The first flight of the stairs from the west
end of the lobby up to the balcony.
on the Fox FB page

The second flight of the stairs up
from outside the original ladies
 room. It's a 2012 photo.
 on the Fox FB page

Also see: another stair shot.

The balcony level lobby in 2012.

An auditorium ceiling detail
from the theatre's website.
full size view | on the Fox website

A balcony sidewall detail on the Fox site.
A 2013 balcony photo from
the theatre's Facebook page.
full size view | on the Fox FB page

A 2007 view taken in conjunction with work on the
chandeliers also affords us a view of the asbestos.
A 2007 chandelier relamping shot
on the theatre's Facebook page.
full size view | on the Fox FB page

A look onto the stage as scaffolding comes into
the building. It's a January 2015 photo.
A look at the Chandeliers on -- but the theatre
scaffolded -- from the January 2015 FB post.

See several more views of scaffolding going up
 in the January 31, 2015 post on the Fox FB page.

A ceiling view from when the theatre was open
during a May 2015 "Speakeasy Days" celebration.

The beginning of the letter removal from
the roof sign in December 2013. The photo is
on the theatre's Facebook page.
full size view | on the Fox FB page

Start on the photo above on the Fox
Facebook page and you can page through
 more views of the project.

December 2013: The 'F" coming down
from the roof sign in a photo on the
theatre's Facebook page.
full size view | on the Fox FB page

On the theatre's roof. The frame for
the roof sign in this 2014 Facebook
 photo is naked as the letters have been
removed for an LED retrofit.
 full size view | on the Fox FB page

The sign was re-lit in mid-2015. This view is from May
 2015, appearing in a "Speakeasy Days" album.

    Roadside Architecture

The Roadside Architecture site has a number of
exterior views of the Fox (and other theatres) on their
 California Movie Theatres page 4. This is A 2013
look into the theatre's forecourt

    Matt Spero Collection   

Thanks to Matt Spero for this c.1974 photo
he took during the run of "The Exorcist."

Buried somewhere on this site is this ghostly image
 Google found of the theatre's proscenium before removal
 of the screen frame and speakers that were out in front.
full size view

A look out toward Harbor Blvd.
from the upper level of the Fox.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015

For the full accounting of Sandi's adventures at the Fox Fullerton
(and many intriguing photos) see her 2015 Avoiding Regret photo essay
"Fox Theatre Fullerton, 90 Years Old and Starting Over."

[ click on any of these photos for a larger view ]

The vista up toward the stagehouse
and the newly restored roof sign.

photo: Sandi Hemmerlein - Avoiding Regret - 2015

Thanks, Sandi!

Looking north toward the Fox Fullerton.

photo: Google Maps - 2014

Click on the image to enlarge or head
to Google for the interactive version.

A look at the entrance before
the theatre lost its marquee.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2011

Thanks, Michelle!

 See more of her theatre explorations via her
 Theatres-California set, theTheatres of Downtown LA set
 and other sets for various individual theatres on Flickr.

[ click on any of these photos to enlarge ]

A marquee detail.

photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2011

The marquee and boxoffice both got removed as there's
an attempt in the renovation to get back to the original
1925 look. Both these items date from the 50s.

A proscenium view of the partially restored theatre.

photo: Stephen Russo - Los Angeles
Historic Theatre Foundation - 2015

The white areas are yet to be restored -- they're where protruding
plaster ornament was knocked off when the Cinemascope screen was
installed in the 50s out in front of the proscenium.  Thanks, Stephen!

By Stephen Russo on the LAHTF Facebook page:
| proscenium detail | auditorium ceiling | the photo above |

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation is actively involved in
the study and preservation of the vintage theatres in the Los Angeles
area. The group frequently supports events and offers theatre tours.
| group Facebook page | official FB page

about photos from other
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We've tried to give appropriate credit. Please
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    After the Final Curtain |

Check out Matt's new book of theatre photos --
"After the Final Curtain: The Fall of the American Movie Theater."
| on Amazon |

See the May 2016 Fox Fullerton Theatre post by Matt
Lambros on his "After The Final Curtain" blog for a great
selection of photos he took of the theatre in a 2014 visit.

The main lobby at the time of Matt's visit in 2014.
Through the doors and take a right, you're out in the
forecourt. The stairs we see at the center of the photo
 are, of course, heading to the balcony.
full size view | on Matt's blog

Same main lobby area just back a bit farther toward
 the house right end. The auditorium entrances are off to the
right. The letters are ones that came off the roof sign.
full size view
| on Matt's blog

"Road Trip 2014 Day 3" blog post included this
main floor look at the the Fox Fullerton's auditorium.
full size view
| on Matt's blog

The rear of the house during Matt's 2014 visit.
full size view | on Matt's blog

The balcony lobby. Note the mural work by John Gabriel
 Beckman that survived around the perimeter of the ceiling.
full size view | on Matt's blog

A detail of one of Beckman's balcony lobby murals.
full size view
| on Matt's blog

A 2014 look across the balcony appears in Matt's
 2015 After The Final Curtain blog post "Hiatus." 
full size view | on Matt's blog

In the projection booth. Note the
wood frame construction overhead.
full size view | on Matt's blog

The view down toward the stage. It's a shot
 that appeared on Matt's Facebook page.
full size view | on Facebook

Also on Matt's Facebook page:
A proscenium detail on Matt's 2016 blog post. 
Note the area cleaned as a test patch.
The main stairs from the balcony
heading back down to the main floor.
full size view | on Matt's blog

Thanks, Matt! Great to see these.

See the May 2016 Fox Fullerton Theatre
post on "After The Final Curtain" for his full
tour, along with a history of the theatre.

    Friends of Fullerton's Future

The Friends' 2009 post "Time To Rethink The Fox"
included this 1934 corner view of the theatre.
full size view

Also see their other Fox Theatre posts about the
development mess the City of Fullerton was trying to
 create on property around the Fox: Fox Village

    Jesse's Blog

A 2013 look at the auditorium to advertise
a "Fullerton Cares" fundraiser for autism.
 It's a photo by Josue Rivas.
The photo also appears on our Los Angeles Theatres
 Facebook page -- with lots of comments.

    more from the LAHTF | group Facebook page  | official FB page

The auditorium from the rear of the main floor.
 It's a 2013 Jenny Goodwin photo on the
LAHTF group Facebook page.
full size view

A gaze up to the ceiling (and a relamped
chandelier) by Jenny Goodwin on the LAHTF
group Facebook page. It's a 2013 photo.
full size view

A 2013 view to the rear of the house by Jenny
Goodwin. It's on the LAHTF group Facebook page.
 full size view

    Orange County Cinema / Cinelog | Cinelog | Fox Fullerton page

The theatre, as Chapman's Alician Court, in 1925.
The photo was featured on a 2011 Cinelog post
"Fox Fullerton's Return to the Past" about the
 removal of the 50s vintage marquee.
The card above also appears
on the Fox Facebook page.

A 2011 marquee view from the "Return" post.

A look at the theatre included by Christopher
Crouch in a "Fox Fullerton 1930" post on Cinelog
in 2009. The theatre is running "Min and Bill."
A 1964 look at the theatre's entrance
from the OC Cinema page on the Fox.
full size view

The photo above also appears on
 the Fox Fullerton Facebook page.

A 2008 interior view from the OC Cinema
Fox Fullerton page. It's a Don Bartletti photo
 taken for the L.A. Times.
 full size view

The OC Cinema page on the Fox Fullerton
has 20 photos of the theatre.

    Vulume / EverGreene Arts

Restoration of the decorative finishes in the Fox is
 by Jeff Greene's Evergreene Architectural Arts. This photo
of the ceiling above the balcony was part of a preliminary
survey of existing conditions.
A look at a workman applying panels of giclee
printed ornament to the restored ceiling.
See Vulume's coverage of the Fox Theatre / Fullerton CA
 project for a bit more discussion of the work.