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Neville Center for the Performing Arts
Presently known as the Neville Center for the Performing Arts, the building was originally constructed as the Fox Theater in 1929 as part of William Fox’s early theater chain. In the late 1920s and early 1930s the Fox West Coast Theater Corporation retrofitted many existing theaters of the silent film era with sound equipment for talking motion pictures. The theater in North Platte was the first in Nebraska to be designed and built to standards Fox established for the “talkies.”
Located near the central business district, the rectangular-shaped building is three stories in height on the south, with a stage and fly loft on the north. It addition to movies, the theater accommodated vaudeville acts and live entertainment. The product of an eclectic combination of various architectural styles, the Fox Theater is a fine example of an early-twentieth-century “Picture Palace.” The two primary south and west facades are clad in glazed brick with rich plaster and terra-cotta ornamentation most prevalent on the south elevation. The corner entrance serves as a focal point, featuring lavish detailing on the corner bays and signage displaying the Fox name. The original interior featured Renaissance-inspired elements such as fabric panels and columns ornamented with gold moldings executed in intricate plaster patterns.
The Fox Theater was financed and constructed by Keith Neville and Alex Beck, owners of the North Platte Realty Company. Neville, a native of North Platte, was a prominent businessman and civic leader in the community, who served two years as governor of Nebraska (1917–1919). F. A. Henninger of Omaha designed the theater with the Alex Beck Company, also of Omaha, as the main contractor. The Fox Theater served the people of the North Platte area for half a century before closing in 1980. The building was vacant for a time until the Neville daughters, who had inherited the theater, donated it to the North Platte Community Playhouse. Following a renovation supported by public donations and volunteer labor, the building was renamed the Neville Center for the Performing Arts in 1983. Today the Neville Center houses stage productions, lectures, concerts, and special events.
Gilkerson, Joni, “Fox Theater,” Lincoln County, Nebraska. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1985. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.
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