A Raider Fan’s Travel Guide to His Hometown: Fox Oakland Theatre

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The Fox Oakland Building in Downtown Oakland houses a performance venue, a school for the performing arts, and a food and beverage outlet.

Entertainment and Sightseeing

This is the third in a series of travel guides to my hometown, Oakland, California, for fans of the  Oakland Raiders of the National Football League and the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball.

As kids growing up in Oakland, California, we were often taken to the movies in Downtown Oakland.

If I remember correctly, there were five movie theaters in Downtown Oakland in those days: the Roxy, the T&D, the Moulin Rouge, The Paramount Theatre, and the Fox Oakland

One by one these movie theatres were shut down, but happily, my two favourites – The Paramount Theatre and The Fox Oakland – managed to survive the wrecker’s ball.

The Paramount Theatre was lovingly restored in the 1970s, and The Fox Oakland just recently reopened following a multi million dollar restoration project. Both now serve as splendid performance venues.

Located at 1807 Broadway in Oakland, California, the theatre was built in 1928. It now offers a full schedule of live concerts. It is also home to the Oakland School for the Arts.

Unique Architectural Style

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Photos Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
 If The Paramount is a grand representation of Art Deco, The Fox Oakland’s architectural style defies easy categorization. It has been variously described as Bagdadian, Brahmin, Hindu, Medieval, and Moorish. To me it was simply marvelous.

The Fox Oakland served as a first run movie house for three decades. It closed its doors in 1966. It was almost torn down in 1975 to build a parking lot.

The city put the building up for auction in 1978. A wealthy couple from Piedmont – Erma and Mario DeLucchi – decided they would attend the auction to see if they could buy it.

They drove downtown, and Mario dropped Erma off at the front door while he parked the car. They had agreed on how much they were willing to spend on it.

By the time Mario arrived at the auction venue, the bidding was over.

Erma greeted her husband  by saying, “We own a theatre”. She bid US$340,000 for what at the time was a crumbling edifice.  I believe this is more than what she and her husband had agreed on.

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The Fox Oakland Theatre serves as performance venue for live entertainment. Photo Credit: Visit Oakland.

Movie Theaters vs Parking Lots

Not surprisingly, Erma was interviewed by the media in the days that followed.

When asked what she and her husband were planning to do with a run-down movie theatre, Erma said that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with it.

They simply didn’t want to see such a lovely building torn down. The Fox Theatre in San Francisco had been torn down a few years earlier, and they didn’t want to one in Oakland to suffer the same fate.

“People go half way around the world to see beautiful buildings, but they don’t go half way around the world to see parking lots,” she said, if I remember correctly.

Talk about civic pride!

The Fox Oakland lay derelict until 1996, when the city of Oakland bought it back from Erma DeLucchi, whose husband had since died, for US$3 million.

After lying silent for 40 years, The Fox Oakland has now been beautifully restored.  Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it takes pride of place in Oakland’s up and coming Uptown district – which we always thought of as Downtown Oakland. The grand dame of Oakland’s performance venues is now surrounded by a growing number of restaurants, cafés, and nightclubs.

The building also houses the Oakland School for Performing Arts and a lovely cafe. Uber is going to occupy a building across the street, which used to house a department store.

What’s On During Football Season 2018

A full schedule of live musical performances and a few acts coincides with football season this fall and winter. There is general admission on the floor and reserved seating.

Why not make a weekend out of it and attend a performance in the run-up to the game?

For information only. Check schedules and ticket prices at the Fox Oakland website below.

Food + Beverage

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The Den opens to ticket holders one hour before show time.

The Fox Oakland is situated in the heart of the thriving Uptown district, which old-time Oaklanders think of as Downtown Oakland.

Following a lengthy decline, the district has gentrified in recent years and is now chock-a-block with eateries and watering holes so there are plenty of places to eat and drink before and after the show.

These three outlets are in the Fox Oakland Building itself. The first is open to the general public. The other two are exclusively for concert-goers.

  • Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café – open to the public for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 1805 Telegraphy Avenue (Telephone (510) 251-9400).
  • The Telegraph Room – serves bottled beers, wines by the glass, spirts, and cocktails with complementary hors d’oeuvres.
  • The Den at the Fox Theatre – serves hot dogs, chips and salsa, sliders, sides, and cocktails. Opens  one hour before show time to ticket holders only.

How to Get There

From the Oakland Coliseum, take the Richmond-bound train to the 19th Street BART Station. Take the 19th Street/Broadway Exit and walk one block to the Fox Oakland at 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue.

If you are driving from the Coliseum, take Highway I-880 North toward Downtown Oakland to 17th Street.  Take Exit 1B and continue on 17th Street to Telegraph Avenue.

Where

Fox Oakland – 1807 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California. Telephone: (510) 302-2250.

 

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