Fox Theatre Pomona
When it opened in 1931, the Fox Theatre in Pomona was a decidedly glamorous addition to a small, agricultural community on the outskirts of Los Angeles County.
When it opened in 1931, the Fox Theatre in Pomona was a decidedly glamorous addition to a small, agricultural community on the outskirts of Los Angeles County. Balch and Stanbery of Los Angeles designed the 1750-seat theatre in the Art Deco style.
Its 81-foot corner tower – the tallest structure in the Pomona Valley – was crowned with a red and blue neon FOX sign, visible from neighboring cities.
The sumptuous interior featured murals and tapestries, elaborate plaster panels, ornamental iron work, couches, and one of the first commercial air-conditioning systems in the country.
Fox patrons were treated to the complete movie palace experience: a Wurlitzer organ pre-show, newsreels, a cartoon, and comedy shorts. With a vaudeville stage, the Fox also hosted concerts, talent shows, holiday dances, and political events. Two especially memorable radio shows were hosted by Bob Hope and featured Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Shirley Temple, and Lawrence Welk.
Thanks to Pomona's demographics – similar to important markets across the country – the major studios did test screenings at the Fox. People in Pomona loved this, treating the previews as if they were world premieres, wearing their most glamorous outfits and competing to spot the stars that came to watch audience reactions.
Movie houses lost audiences in the 1950s, and despite a “modernization effort” (which removed the Art Deco chandeliers and historic ticket booth and added a new marquee), the theatre entered a period of decline. The last theater chain to own the Fox, Mann Theaters, closed the theater in 1976.
Efforts to "save the Fox" began immediately, but soon stalled. In 1994, the area around the Fox Theatre was designated the Pomona Arts Colony, a cluster of artist lofts, galleries, restaurants and nightclubs. Sadly, an abusive tenant removed historic components and artwork and painted over the original murals.
In 2002, the City of Pomona purchased the Fox. Following an extensive restoration and rehabilitation project, the theatre has now re-opened and is currently hosting live music events and private parties.