Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Located at 1807 Telegraph Ave. in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland, CA and opened in 1928, the Fox Oakland Theater is a glorious mashup of Islamic, Indian and Medieval influences, along with a smidge of ArtDeco for good measure. Let’s take a closer look at the ornate façade, shall we?

First of all, the type nerd in me loves all the lettering! I wish I could have visited again at night to see it all lit up:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

This exotic-looking theater was originally going to be called The Baghdad. With a capacity of 3,800, this was supposedly the largest theater complex on the West Coast when it opened. It had a sibling across the Bay in the Fox San Francisco, which was demolished in 1963, but you should really check out photos of that building, too.

To me, this looks like a crazy wedding cake:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

The main entrance is where we encounter Art Deco elements which, though lovely, are not original to the design of the building but were added during a 1945 renovation whose theme was apparently mustaches:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

The ticket booth and terrazzo sidewalk inlay are also part of the Art Deco renovation:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Original or not, I love this:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Yet another 1945 addition is the cloud ceiling:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

Lastly, the marquee was redone in 1935:

Fox Oakland Theater by Maury I. Diggs

For more information and photos, including historic ones, check out The Legendary Rescue of the Fox Theatre Oakland and What’s Moorish, Indian, Medieval, and Baghdadian? The venue, which is now primarily devoted to music concerts, also has an excellent photo gallery.

But, oh! I have to share what I’ve learned about the architect! The building’s design is usually credited to Weeks & Day, a San Francisco-based firm prominent during the first half of the 20th century.

Apparently, the theater was actually designed by then-discredited Maury I. Diggs, who had been a rising star on the West Coast architectural scene, based in Sacramento and serving as state architect for a time. He and a friend became embroiled in a white slave-trafficking scandal when they crossed state lines into Reno, NV with their [technically underage] mistresses.

Diggs divorced his wife and married his mistress, was convicted, appealed his case to the Supreme Court, served jail time, eventually received a Presidential pardon and, unrelated to his other shenanigans, lost his home in a card game.

Crazy, right? Read more about Diggs here, a bit more about the scandal here, and a lot more here.

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