Historic American Buildings Survey No. WA-197 (Fox Theatre) Collection, 1991-1992

Overview of the Collection

Stamets, John, 1949-
Historic American Buildings Survey No. WA-197 (Fox Theatre) Collection
1991-1992 (inclusive)
62 photographic prints (1 box) ; 8 x 10 in.
1 v.
Collection Number
Photographs documenting the Fox Theatre (Music Hall Theatre) before its demolition in 1991-1992.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

John Stamets received his B.A. in photography from Yale University, where he studied with documentary photographer Walker Evans. Stamets is a lecturer in photography in the School of Architecture at the University of Washington. He specializes in photographing historic buildings using the HABS/HAER standards.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

The Fox Theatre opened on April 19, 1929, to a crowd of 15,000 visitors. Its unusual Spanish Renaissance-style design and its many amenities made it one of Seattle's finest and most unique theaters.

Designed by Seattle architect Sherwood D. Ford, the decor of the theater took its inspiration from the 16th-century Spanish Plateresque period and also utilized nautical motifs. The theater had a capacity of 2,600 seats and provided such amenities as a "crying room" (an enclosed room where parents and their crying children could watch the film or performance without bothering other audience members) and a similarly appointed smoking room. Much like other "picture palaces" of the period, the Fox Theatre boasted the latest developments in lighting and sound. Throughout its existence, the theater served as both a movie house and a venue for live performance.

The Fox Theatre changed names and owners frequently, and alterations were made to the building over the years. In 1988, the current owner of the building applied for a permit to demolish the building, intending to build a hotel on the site. However, such groups as the Seattle Landmarks Board, Allied Arts, and the Historic Seattle Preservation and Development Authority worked to prevent the destruction of the building. In 1990, these groups sponsored the building's nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. Despite their efforts, the Fox Theatre was demolished during the winter of 1991-1992.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains 62 photographs documenting the Fox Theatre (more recently known as the Music Hall Theatre) in Seattle, Washington, before its demolition in January, 1992. All photographs (except where noted) were made by John Stamets, and the accompanying written historical information was prepared by Florence K. Lentz.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

HABS No. WA-197 is a government document and is under no copyright restrictions.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Clise Agency, Inc., 1993.

Processing Note

Processed by Shannon Lynch, 2003.

Related Materials

Photograph Collection 442: Historic American Buildings Survey No. WA-201 (Longacres Park); photographs by John Stamets.

Photograph Collection 554: Northwest Buildings Survey No. WA-001 (Fred Nelson Barn/Old Riverview Farms Dairy Barn); photographs by John Stamets according to Historic American Buildings Survey standards.

Photograph Collection 618: Medical Arts Building; photographs by John Stamets according to Historic American Buildings Survey standards.

Photograph Collection 623: Historic American Buildings Survey No. WA-213 (Henry Art Gallery); photographs by John Stamets.

Photograph Collection 627: Historic American Engineering Record No. WA-24 (Skagit River and Newhalem Creek Hydroelectric Projects); photographs by Jet Lowe.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Fox TheatreReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 1
Fox Theatre and surrounding buildings, viewed from Paramount Theatre (WA-197-1)
Oct., 1991
1 2
South facade on Olive Way (WA-197-2)
Sept., 1991
1 2 Sept., 1991
1 4 July, 1991
1 5
Seventh Ave. side (WA-197-5)
Sept., 1991
1 6
Seventh Ave., looking at Fly Tower (WA-197-6)
Sept., 1991
1 7
Back side of building viewed from Stewart St. and Seventh Ave. (WA-197-7)
Sept., 1991
1 8 Oct., 1991
1 9 May, 1991
1 10
Detail of rooftop urn (on Olive Way side) (WA-197-10)
June, 1991
2 11 Sept., 1991
2 12
Ticket booth, western doors at theater entrance (WA-197-12)
Sept., 1991
2 13 Sept., 1991
2 14
Eastern set of main entrance doors in foyer, looking south (WA-197-14)
Same doors shown in photo 13.
Aug., 1991
2 15 July, 1991
2 16
Foyer and stairs (WA-197-16)
Sept,. 1991
2 17 Aug., 1991
2 18 Sept., 1991
2 19
Wallpaper mural of ship (WA-197-19)
Jan., 1992
2 20 Aug., 1991
3 21
Mezzanine lounge (WA-197-21)
Aug., 1991
3 22 July, 1991
3 23
Landing and staircases outside ladies' lounge (WA-197-23)
Sept., 1991
3 24
Detail of landing (WA-197-24)
Sept., 1991
3 25 July, 1991
3 26 Sept. 5, 1991
3 27
Auditorium and main chandelier viewed from balcony (WA-197-27)
Sept., 1991
3 28
Auditorium viewed from stage (WA-197-28)
Aug., 1991
3 29 Sept., 1991
3 30 Oct., 1991
4 31 July, 1991
4 32
Detail of sunburst lamp on east galleon (WA-197-32)
Sept., 1991
4 33 July, 1991
4 34 Aug., 1991
4 35
Balcony (WA-197-35)
Sept., 1991
4 36 Aug., 1991
4 37
Detail of console and finials at west wall of balcony (WA-197-37)
Sept., 1991
4 38
Detail of chandelier on east side of balcony (WA-197-38)
Sept., 1991
4 39
Detail of main chandelier above balcony (WA-197-39)
Aug., 1991
4 40 Aug., 1991
5 41
Backstage view of counterbalance system for lifting curtains and props (WA-197-41)
Aug., 1991
5 42
Scene shop in basement (WA-197-42)
Aug., 1991
5 43
Dressing rooms and basement corridor (WA-197-43)
July, 1991
5 44 Aug., 1991
5 45
  360-degree panorama of auditorium, taken from balcony (WA-197-45)
Stamets, John, 1949- Landon, Will (photographer)
Aug., 1991

Frank A. Jacobs PhotographsReturn to Top

Photographs 46 through 51 are copies of photographs made by Frank A. Jacobs in April, 1929. The original prints are in the collection of Terry Helgesen of Los Angeles, Calif., and copy negatives are held in the B'hend and Kaufmann Archives Helgesen Collection in Pasadena, Calif.

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
6 46
Exterior view at corner of Seventh Ave. and Olive Way (WA-197-46)
The opening night film, Broadway Melody, is displayed on the marquee.
April, 1929
6 47
Foyer and staircase (WA-197-47)
Original furnishings and draperies pictured.
April, 1929
6 48
Mezzanine lounge, looking east (WA-197-48)
Original tapestries and upholstered furnishings are pictured.
April, 1929
6 49
  Auditorium viewed from stage (WA-197-49)
Original configuration of orchestra, mezzanine, and balcony seating is shown.
April, 1929
6 50
Proscenium, orchestra pit, and stage, with curtain in place for opening night (WA-197-50)
April, 1929
6 51
Projection room with original Movietone projection equipment (WA-197-51)
April, 1929

Sherwood D. Ford Architectural DrawingsReturn to Top

Photographs 52 through 62 are photographs of Sherwood Ford architectural drawings. The original drawings were submitted in July, 1927. The original drawings are no longer available, but are on microfiche at the Microfilm Library of the Seattle Department of Construction and Land Use.

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
7 52
Duct plan (WA-197-52)
July, 1927
7 53
Basement plan (WA-197-53)
July, 1927
7 54 July, 1927
7 55
Mezzanine floor plan (WA-197-55)
July, 1927
7 56
Balcony plan (WA-197-56)
July, 1927
7 57
Roof plan (WA-197-57)
July, 1927
7 58
Longitudinal section (WA-197-58)
July, 1927
7 59
West elevation and cross section (WA-197-59)
July, 1927
7 60
Olive Way elevation (WA-197-60)
July, 1927
7 61 July, 1927
7 62
Alley elevation (WA-197-62)
July, 1927

Paper DocumentationReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Folder item
8 63
Historic American Buildings Survey: Fox Theatre (Music Hall Theatre) (HABS No. WA-197)
Lentz, Florence K., 1949- (author)
The written HABS report contains historical background information on the Fox Theatre building and its owners and functions, as well as a detailed inventory of the photographs and detailed descriptions of the building's architectural and structural features.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Historic buildings--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Motion picture theaters--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Theater architecture--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs
  • Theaters--Washington (State)--Seattle--Photographs

Personal Names

  • Ford, Sherwood D
  • Stamets, John, 1949-

Corporate Names

  • Music Hall Theatre (Seattle, Wash.)--Photographs

Geographical Names

  • Seattle (Wash.)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Photographs

Form or Genre Terms

  • Architectural drawings
  • Architectural photographs

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Jacobs, Frank A (photographer)
    • Lentz, Florence K., 1949- (author)
    Corporate Names
    • Historic American Buildings Survey

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)