Fox West Theatre Fire Curtain

Trinidad, CO

The Fox West Theatre, originally known as the West Theatre, was constructed in Trinidad, Colorado in 1908. It was created by local rancher Edward West as a response to the closing of the Jaffa Opera House in 1906. The masonry was completed with Trinidad-made bricks laid in Portland cement, giving the theatre fire proofing qualities that were unique to its time. The theatre operated as an independently owned and operated performance venue, showing both musical and theatrical performances. The building also hosted local community events on a regular basis.

The theatre was sold once in 1911 to a nearby theatre manager, and again in 1920 to the Kohn-Fairchild Amusement Company. It was at this time that an early record player and moving picture projector was installed so that the theatre could accommodate both live performances and films. The theatre underwent an extensive renovation in 1929, including updates to the light fixtures, carpeting, and draperies, as well as updated projection equipment to accommodate sound films. In August of 1929, the Fox West Coast Theatre Co. purchased the West Theatre, and it was at this point the theatre became known as the Fox West Theatre.

The theatre’s ownership shifted several times during the 1940’s and 50s. In 1959 the theatre was purchased by the Sawaya family, who renovated the interior of the theatre to its current aesthetic. The Sawaya family continued to make changes during its ownership, including installing Cinemascope in the 1960s, adding fiberglass paneling to the façade in the 70s, and periodic updates to the sound systems in the 80s and 90s. The Fox West finally ceased operations in 2013. The City of Trinidad secured funding in 2018 from History Colorado to support the purchase and restoration of the theatre.

In April of 2023, EverGreene was contracted to conduct an assessment of baseline conditions and perform conservation treatments on the historic fire curtain found in the Fox West Theatre. The purpose of the project was to mitigate potential health hazards posed by the asbestos containing materials in the fire curtain and to conserve the historic and artistic integrity of the curtain. Prior to conservation treatments, the curtain was in poor condition, demonstrating significant undesired surface deposits, multiple tears and holes in the historic fabric, water damage, etc. EverGreene successfully cleaned, encapsulated, stabilized, repaired any damages, and touched up areas with damaged or missing color found on the curtain.