Fox Performing Arts Center

3801 Mission Inn Avenue,
Riverside, CA 92501

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DavidZornig on September 16, 2016 at 8:19 pm

This post with vintage photo & fade to today courtesy of the What Was There Facebook page.

On September 9, 1939, a secretive “sneak preview” of Gone with the Wind is shown to a surprised audience in Riverside, CA months before its official premier in Atlanta. The film’s producer, David O. Selznick, his wife, Irene, investor John “Jock” Whitney and film editor Hal Kern drove to Riverside to preview the film at the Fox Theatre. It was still a rough cut at this stage, missing completed titles and lacking special optical effects, and it ran for four hours and twenty-five minutes (it would later be cut down to under four hours for its proper release). A double bill of Hawaiian Nights and Beau Geste was playing at the Fox, but after the first feature it was announced that the theater would be screening a preview. The audience was informed they could leave but they would not be readmitted once the film had begun, nor would phone calls be allowed once the theater had been sealed. When the title appeared on the screen the audience cheered (many had been reading about the making of the film for over two years), and after it finished it received a standing ovation. Here’s the Fox Theater in 1929.

Fade to now:

Titus77 on August 10, 2011 at 3:27 pm

This was THE theater for movies in the 60s. I loved going to this theater as a kid. I’m really glad the city has given it new life.

JAlex on August 9, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Original stage dimensions: Proscenium—38 feet; depth—32 feet.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on December 23, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Congrats about the reopening… the creep who ruined that beautiful theater should be fined for destruction and theft of “public” property and confined to a mental institute.

It seems that the original estimate of about $30m went to $40m, wow!

After seeing the photo of the “copper” ticket, I wonder if the “brass” plaque regarding the original screening of GWTW is still on the facade? Glad I took a snapshot of that.

monika on November 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Two photos I took of the Fox this week:
View link
View link

monika on October 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I must say, though I’ve only seen the theatre with one of the new vertical signs in place, that the building looks ten times better — and actually functional.

CSWalczak on October 28, 2010 at 9:53 pm

New vertical signs, replicas of the originals. were recently installed: View link

Swannie on August 10, 2010 at 11:43 am

Loved, loved, LOVED getting to see Gone With The Wind in the theater last weekend. I really hope they screen more old movies in the future. What a great date night!!

TLSLOEWS on August 4, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Good to see that its reopened.

DonSolosan on May 25, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I was just looking at my photo of a cultural heritage landmark plaque on the side of this building. It refers to the architects as “Batch and Stanberry” — they misspelled both of their names!

spectrum on March 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Re-opened. Jesus Christ Superstar opens April 1, 2010!

New official website is:

monika on January 13, 2010 at 8:26 am

The theater is offering free tours to the community this Saturday and Sunday January 16-17.

HowardBHaas on January 13, 2010 at 4:56 am

1-8-10 Press Riverside article on history & renovation:
View link

maggieturnipseed on September 2, 2009 at 6:49 am

Interested in knowing if any one has any idea when a copper souvenir
ticket was made for the Riverside Theater. It is a copy of an opening night ticket in 1928. here is a link to a photo…… Any information would be most interesting.

Thanks in advance for your help.


mjelderman on August 30, 2009 at 4:27 am

First to Maureen951. The opening gala is January 15 (as described above) and if you call 951.826.5312 and ask for information about the Fox, they will connect you.

I posted in October, 2008 about a book I was planning about the Fox Theater. That book, which is titled “Riverside’s Fox Theater: An Intimate Portrait,” is about to go to the printer, and will appear in December, 2009 at many downtown museums and stores, at Barnes and Noble, at Borders, and at my gallery at 3850 Lemon St. in downtown Riverside.

I am still in the process of raising funding for this project, and if you are interested in advance purchase of boxed-set books, 10 or more regular books at a 30% discount, an art print from the collection, or just in donating to the project, for which you will receive books and a mention on the Donors Page, please contact me at This address is also good if you would like to reserve between 1-9 books at the retail price of $34.95 plus tax and shipping (where applicable). I will post a link to an image of the book cover as soon as it is available. Thanks to those who have given me encouragement all along with this exciting project.

mtori001 on August 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Hi does anyone know a phone number where I can reach someone who can tell me more about the fox theater, like when it will be opening again and reserving a date for it…I’ve tried calling the phone number above 909-684-2831 but a woman answered it who told me I had the wrong number. SO if anyone call help me with this I’d really appreciate it!! Thank you!!

monika on July 23, 2009 at 11:48 pm

According to Broadway in Riverside, “Annie” will be the first production to show in the restored Fox, scheduled for February 2010, followed in March by “Jesus Christ Superstar”, and “Hairspray” in April.

Here is a link to a substantial photographic history of the Fox with a November 2008 issue date:
View link

Also, “the city has scheduled a Jan. 15 grand-opening gala fundraiser and free public walk-throughs Jan. 16-17, said Councilman Mike Gardner. He promised a big-name artist for the grand-opening performance on Jan. 22, though he said he did not yet know who it would be.”

monika on March 25, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Posting to get this theatre back on my “notifications” list….

kencmcintyre on March 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm

This is a July 2008 article. I’ve been out there twice in the past few months, and as far as I can tell they are far from done.

kencmcintyre on March 16, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Here is a December 2007 article and photos regarding the renovation:

mjelderman on January 14, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Thanks ken mc for posting the photos. Interesting that you have listed two drive ins back east in New Jersey among your favorites — I grew up in Atlantic City and went to the drive ins through high school with lots of my friends. Obviously you are here in Riverside now — what do you do (or what DID you do, if you’re retired). My e-mail address is above if you want to send a note.

kencmcintyre on January 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Here are two photos from the LA Library, dated 1929 and 1970, respectively:

mjelderman on January 9, 2009 at 10:49 pm

The opening date for the theater has been pushed back to January 11, 2010, the anniversary of the grand opening gala in 1929. I understand that the “Preview” sign was pulled off the tower facade a few months back and unceremoniously thrown to the ground, where it shattered. There is a movement to see if the city will have another one made, but I don’t know who is involved, or whether there will be a response. The theater itself is changing dramatically, and scaffolding near the stage has already been removed, while the scaffolding allowing workmen to repaint the ceiling will most likely come down within a couple of weeks. You can see some photos from my book project by going to my website at and scrolling down the “Gallery” to Riverside Fox (there are also some photos from documentation of the Pomona Fox here).

Anyone who has artifacts, photos or any other information about the Fox, including interesting stories of your memories or experiences there — please send me your stories, info, and photos via e-mail, or to me at P. O. Box 55435, Riverside, CA 92517. —Michael J. Elderman