When the Fox Oakland opened in 1928 at the northern edge of downtown, it was one of the grand movie palaces of the day, its ornate architecture intended to evoke an exotic version of India and the Far East. Designed by San Francisco architectural firm Weeks & Day, the Fox had a vestibule with imported marble walls supporting a gold frieze beneath an ornately patterned dome; the 3,400-seat auditorium sparkled with gold leaf and gold light fixtures and had intricately painted walls, a stenciled plaster ceiling, and a stage flanked by two tall statues of Hindu warriors. Opening day drew a crowd of 20,000. Millions attended movies and performances at the Fox until the decline of downtown Oakland in the 1960s forced the theater to close. It remained largely unused for decades, suffering arson, vandalism, and neglect – and narrowly escaping being razed for a parking lot before being named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

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