The Fox Garvey

Fox Theater Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle 10/19/1969

On October 22, 1969, the Fox Garvey Theatre opened its doors next to the new Holiday Inn Plaza in the heart of downtown Wichita. Eager to bring new life into the city’s cinematic landscape in downtown, this single screen was designed to replace the Miller Theatre. 

Fox Theater

An article dated October 9, 1969, in The Wichita Eagle revealed the meticulous attention to detail put into the theater’s construction. “The venue boasts an exquisite olive-green color scheme, from its fireproof acoustical panels to the grand curving oval curtains.”

Fox Garvey under construction
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle 10/09/1969

The Wichita Eagle wrote about the inaugural night of the Fox Garvey Theatre. “The Scarlet Lancers, a group of spirited performers, kicked off the event with a quasi-parade that led them right into the theater. The spectacle drew curious onlookers, who eagerly gathered outside to catch a glimpse of the beloved Chill Wills and his horny Pontiac. The crowd also marveled at the radiant presence of Miss Kansas, bedecked in her majestic crown, and an enigmatic figure clad in sequined stockings, aptly named “Miss National General.” 

Chill Wills attends the Grand Opening
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle 10/21/1969

The opening served as a benefit for the Sedgwick County Zoo, and guests were treated to architect-conception slides that offered a first look at the new zoo. Amidst the excitement, Chill Wills took the stage, telling the crowd and Mrs. Olive W. Garvey, “Mrs. Garvey, I stood close to you, and you even SMELL rich.”

The Fox Garvey Theater

900 people attended the opening night gala that featured a Road Runner cartoon and a screening of the new movie, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” 

Opening Day Ad
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle 10/19/1969
Grand Opening
Courtesy: The Wichita Eagle 10/21/1969

Fast forward to November 17, 1976, and another chapter in the Fox Garvey’s tale began to unfold. The Wichita Eagle announced a conversion project costing $100,000, which would transform the single screen theater to a twin theater.  The doors temporarily closed but reopened on December 22.

The Fox Garvey (pretty sure that is me standing in the aisle)
Crockett Archives

My dad ran the theater sometime in the early 80’s.  I have some memories of seeing the 3-D movie, “Comin at Ya!”  I also remember a go-cart that was part of a giveaway.  Dad sat me on his lap, and we drove up and down the aisles of the two theaters.  As a kid, that was pretty awesome.  My mom would have not been happy if she found out we took the cart for a ride. 

The Fox Garvey Theater

 I didn’t like the theater as much as the Boulevard and Mall Cinema, because you had to go through the storage room to get inside the concession stand.  The storage room was locked, so I could never get my popcorn.  At least until I figured out a good place to climb over the counter. Mom probably would have frowned on that too.

The Fox Garvey Theater

In June of 1982, the Fox hosted a local celebrity.  I was excited because she grew up in the same block as me, only a few years before.  One summer evening a white limo pulled up in front of the theater.  Kirstie Alley in a white fur coat, popped out. She signed autographs for the fans waiting in line.  I stood in line, got an autograph and a picture with the soon to be star.  My next door neighbors growing up were Ivan and Eileen Thomas.  They knew Kirstie as a kid.  When they walked into the lobby, Kirstie looked up, smiled, and ran across the floor to give them both a hug.

Years passed, and on November 2, 1983, The Wichita Eagle-Beacon ran an article stating the double-screen marvel, would become an X-rated adult house.  Just hours before it was set to open its doors, the property owners pulled the lease on the theater. The building was razed.

Demolition of The Fox Garvey Theater, 1983

The Fox Garvey Theatre, with its rich history and captivating tales, eventually met its demise. Today, only an empty parking lot stands where the theater once resided, leaving only the echoes of laughter, applause, and cherished memories that still linger in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to have experienced the theatre.

Check out some of the other theaters of Wichita in 1974.

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