AKA: West Coast Oakland Theatre, Downtown, Oakland, CA; Fox Oakland Theater, Downtown, Oakland, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores; built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: California Capital Group (firm); Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer, Architects (HHPA) (firm); Holt Hinshaw Architecture, Planning, and Design (firm); Weeks and Day, Architects (firm); William Peyton Day (structural engineer); Maury I. Diggs (building contractor); Hugh Gelston Hardy (architect); Marc Christopher Hinshaw (architect); Paul Holt (architect); Malcolm Holzman (architect); Norman Henry Pfeiffer (architect); Phillip H. Tagami (developer); Charles Peter Weeks (architect)

Dates: constructed 1927-1928

3 stories

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1807 Telegraph Avenue
Downtown, Oakland, CA 94612

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Building History

San Francisco architect Charles Weeks (1870-1928) and structural engineer William Peyton Day (1883-1966) worked periodically for William Fox's Fox Theatres exhibition chain and designed Oakland Fox in an eclectic, crypto-Persian/Buddhist aesthetic; the theatre was originally to be called the "Bagdad," apparently spelled incorrectly. Weeks and Day were better known for theatres done in ornate versions of the Gothic Revival Style, making this foray into Middle Eastern architecture very unusual. A local contractor, Maury Diggs, was the original building contractor for the Oakland Fox. The theatre finished showing first-run movies in 1962, experienced its first closing in 1966, reopened and closed again after showing second-run films and pornography in 1970. Erma and Mario DeLucchi purchased it in 1978 for $340,000, hoping to renovate it, but Mario died very soon thereafter, and his widow did not proceed with the planned restoration.

Building Notes

When built, this theatre was one of the largest venues on the West Coast, seating 3,400, exceeded by only a few others, such as the enormous San Francisco Fox that accommodated 4,651. Oakland possessed two major movie palaces close to each other, the Fox and Timothy Pflueger's masterpiece, the Paramount. (Historian David Naylor put the number of seats at 3,300. See David Naylor, American Picture Palaces The Architecture of Fantasy, [New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981], p. 218.)


A fire caused by an arsonist did some damage in 1973; efforts to demolish the theatre occurred in 1974-1977, but preservationists succeeded in preserving it in 1978, when the City of Oakland named it a City Landmark. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The City purchased the building in 1996 with an eye to renovating it for cultural purposes, and some basic restoration work took place between 1999-2001. A large-scale $200 million theatre renovation and building expansion plan was discussed in 2002 by the City of Oakland and Marc Hinshaw of architecture firm, Holt Hinshaw, Architecture, Planning, and Design. Hinshaw designed a plan that would build three towers on the Fox property on its flanks and rear. A large ballroom resting on top of the theatre would connect the two side towers. The New York firm of Hardy Holzman and Pfeiffer was commissioned to study the potential costs of theatre renovation or other reuse. These plans came to nothing.

Following the demise of these large-scale renovation plans, Phillip Tagami, Managing General Partner of the California Capital Group, began to campaign seriously to restore the theatre using money drawn from various federal, state and local public sources as well as private equity. In 12/2004 the Oakland Community and Economic Development Agency got a small grant of $2.9 million to stabilize the building further. Under Tagami's leadership, the City sold the Fox to a non-profit group, Fox Oakland Theater, Incorporated, who would then lease it to the Oakland School for the Arts and rent it to private parties for concerts and other events. Construction began in 09/2006 on this public/private facility, a process that concluded on 02/05/2009.

Oakland Historic Landmark: ID n/a

National Register of Historic Places (1979-02-02): 79000468 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 6257