"The Grand Opening of the Fox in 1930 was the biggest party little Tucson had ever seen. Congress Street was closed and waxed for dancing to the music of four bands. Some 3,000 lucky people had tickets for the first show, the MovieTone short “Chasing Rainbows” and a Mickey Mouse cartoon" (southernarizonaguide.com/the-beautifully-restored-fox-theater/). And thus began the theater's 40-year life as the center of Tucson’s entertainment world.
The décor of the Fox was described as “Spanish Modernistic” by the city's newspaper. This style is now known as Southwestern Art Deco, and the Fox Tucson Theatre is the only known example of this style.
The water fountain (above), murals (below),
"Construction began on what was to be called the Tower Theatre on August 24, 1929. The theatre was to be the crown jewel in the Diamos Brothers’ Lyric Amusement chain of theatres throughout Southern Arizona. By late September of the same year, the Fox West Coast Theatre chain had acquired the property along with the others in the Lyric chain, and the Tower became the Fox.
"Competition from other venues, drive-ins and television conspired to end the run of popularity the Fox had enjoyed. Partial remodels of the theatre left it with most of its original charm, but vanishing retail and housing Downtown spelled the end in 1974. Various efforts to revive the theatre were unsuccessful, but luckily the property was spared the wrecking ball. Hidden from the view of the public for more than 26 years, the grand theatre was never forgotten by its former patrons" (foxtucsontheatre.org/ history/).
While there were a few photographs of the Fox’s original seat fabric and carpet patterns, they were all in black and white. Thanks to a curious Fox volunteer, the original fabric was discovered on a balcony seat and was replicated.
But the story surrounding the acoustics of the Fox was special.
"The theater’s unique acoustic treatment, called 'Acoustone,' was designed due to the advent of 'talkie' motion pictures. This change in the movies required a change in the facilities which exhibited them. Rather than dealing with a room of live musicians, or a theatre
“'Acoustone' is a mixture of plaster, gypsum, mica and baking soda which, when combined, 'cooks' and creates voids to absorb the sound in a room. It acts like a sponge to soak up about 52% of amplified sound. According to acoustic engineers who tested the Fox acoustics, they declared it to be more like a European opera house than a movie theatre. 'Acoustone' is ideal for most users of the Fox except an unamplified attraction like the Symphony, in those cases, an acoustic shell will be utilized to focus the sound from the stage to the audience.
"The Fox’s 'Acoustone,' following 26 years of abuse from a leaking roof, was in dire condition. Approximately 50% of the material needed to be repaired or replaced.
"Lastly, the original color, a rose-like hue that was over-painted in the ‘50’s, was restored" (foxtucsontheatre.org/construction/indepth/acoustone).
The snack bar area (below) of the balcony and