AKA: Fox California Theater #2, Stockton, CA; Hope, Bob, Theatre, Stockton, CA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Balch and Stanbery, Architect and Engineer (firm); Clifford A. Balch (architect); Floyd Edgar Stanbery (structural engineer)

Dates: constructed 1929-1930

242 East Main Street
Downtown, Stockton, CA 95202

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Building History

The Fox West Coast Theatres chain operated the Fox California Theatre #1 (originally called the T and D Photoplay Theatre) on the same site as the second Fox California. The Fox opened on 10/14/1930, with 20,000 attending the grand opening. Also a venue for vaudeville performances, the theatre was one of the largest in the state for this purpose, seating 2,170. Throughout its history, the Fox California accommodated movies, live theatre and music. In the 1940s, big bands played the Fox, while rock bands visited the venue in the 1980s. Westland Theatres purchased the building in 1971, hoping to continue exhibiting films, but this was halted two years later for economic reasons. It fell into disuse in the later 1970s and civic leaders considered whether or not to demolish the building. Stockton architect Edward C. Merlo and Madeleine Lawton stepped in to buy the Fox in order to preserve it in 1979, the same year it was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Stockton's The Redevelopment Agency added the historic theatre to its master planning for the Downtown in the 1990s, with the result that renovation work began late in the decade. The Merlo Family's estate donated the Fox California and its office building to the City of Stockton in 2000. A combination of State of CA, Federal Government and private funds covered the required $8.5 million renovation cost. The city renamed the second Fox California the "Bob Hope Theatre" in 2004, the year following the entertainer's death at age 100.

Building Notes

David Naylor in his book American Picture Palaces The Architecture of Fantasy, indicated that the Fox Theatre dated from 1927. He indicated that it contained 2,155 seats. (See David Naylor, American Picture Palaces The Architecture of Fantasy, [New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981], p. 218.)

National Register of Historic Places (June 27, 1979): 79000540 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 17213