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Historic Fox renovations moving forward, group sets tentative opening season for fall 2020

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Fox Theatre

Excitement is building as efforts continue on the refurbishment of the Fox West Theatre on Main Street in Trinidad. Dana Crawford’s Downtown Development Group is currently overseeing the renovation of the building, purchased by the City of Trinidad, and Crawford is currently pushing to open for a first performance in fall of 2020.

“A concert is being considered at this juncture for September of next year,” said Dana Crawford. “The Colorado Symphony is planning on coming down to celebrate the 250 anniversary of Beethoven and we’ve been talking with the city about doing a big gala the night before as a street party.”

City of Trinidad Interim Manager Mike Valentine stated while he and the city would like to see things start happening next fall, there are several safety issues that need to be addressed before allowing the general public to be inside the theater.

 “There’s going to have to be some modifications and we would like to have entertainment in there as we’re trying to refurbish it,” said Valentine, “but I stressed that it has to be tentative. We have to make sure, safety wise, everything is OK to move ahead with that.”

Chris Smith, who works extensively with the Fox on behalf of Crawford’s development group, said that the electric and plumbing is currently unusable but there are ways to still make some performances happen.

“It’s likely that we could have some port-a-potties right out front, a generator in the back to run lights, and have a limited run season in September,” said Smith. “That is our dream scenario at the moment.”

Smith additionally explained that they are only just beginning to see how historically incredible the Fox West Theatre actually is, recalling his research on the Rapp brothers who were responsible for the design of hundreds of buildings around the region including the Fox West Theatre.

“The Rapps were four brothers; two went to school for architecture in Chicago, the other two came to Trinidad,” said Smith. “Of the two that came to Trinidad, one of them, Isaac Rapp started an architecture firm. In 1908, the brothers in Chicago were helping their brothers here in Trinidad on the theater.”

Smith commented that this is where the history gets “juicy” adding that many people don’t realize how significant this theater was in establishing the brother’s credentials as world-class theatre designers.

“The Chicago Rapp brothers weren’t credited with building a theater until 1910 in Debuque, Iowa, with the Five Flags Center,” said Smith. “Debuque loves to tout that they have the first Rapp designed theater in the United States. But since the Chicago based Rapp brothers were helping in designing the Fox, that would technically make this theater the actual first theatre the Rapp brothers ever designed.”

In a Chronicle-News publication on March of 1908, the City of Trinidad recognized the theater as a testament to their progressive mentality that some may find still rings true over a century later.

“Slowly, but irresistibly, straight towards the goal of municipal prominence, the city is forging,” the article said. “Slowly building, but everlasting, are the monuments that bear silent but eloquent testimony in support of this onward drift, which is as natural and as inevitable, as the passing of time itself, created, as it is, by the boundless resources, the endless wealth, and the indomitable energy of a people who love progress, and its attending prosperity.”

As the group progresses forward, Smith and Crawford both stated there is several grants they have applied for that would help fund the beginning phases of the renovations.

Crawford stated she sees enormous potential for the theater once they can start hosting shows.

“It could really become a cultural hub in the region,” said Crawford. “The plan is to approach the Fox Theatre as a civic center. So we can do theatrical things, musical things, dance; downstairs, the ballroom can be a number of things. There is so much the Fox could be, and eventually will be, for this community as we build the stones of Trinidad as an arts destination.”

Research suggests Fox could be first of famous Rapp brothers designed theater buildings

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