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Fox Theatre - Atlanta, GA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Lat34North
N 33° 46.357 W 084° 23.097
16S E 742168 N 3740018
Quick Description: The Fox Theatre (also known as the Fabulous Fox) in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the grand movie palaces built in the United States in the 1920s.
Location: Georgia, United States
Date Posted: 8/18/2007 5:20:01 PM
Waymark Code: WM213Q
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 53

Long Description:
The Fox Theatre (also known as the Fabulous Fox) in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the grand movie palaces built in the United States in the 1920s. The theatre's unique origin and Moorish design sets it apart from others of the era including those bearing the Fox Theatre name in other cities. It currently hosts a variety of cultural and artistic events including the Atlanta Ballet, a summer film series, and performances by national touring companies of Broadway shows.


The principal architect of the Fox was Olivier Vinour of the firm Marye, Alger and Vinour. The original architecture and décor of the Fox can be roughly divided into two categories, Islamic architecture (the building exterior, the auditorium, the Grand Salon, the mezzanine Gentlemen’s Lounge and the lower Ladies Lounge) and Egyptian architecture (the Egyptian Ballroom, the mezzanine Ladies Lounge and the lower Gentlemen’s Lounge).

The 4678-seat auditorium, which was designed for movies and live performances, replicates an Arabian courtyard complete with a night sky of 96 stars (a third of which flicker) and a projection of clouds that slowly drift across the ‘sky’.

The Egyptian Ballroom is designed after a temple for Ramses II at Karnak while the mezzanine Ladies Lounge features a replica of the throne chair of King Tut and makeup tables that feature tiny Sphinxes. The Islamic sections feature a number of ablution fountains, which are currently kept dry.

Throughout the Fox there is extensive use of trompe l'oeil; ‘wooden’ beams are actually plaster, paint that appears gold leaf is not, areas are painted and lit to appear to receive outside lighting, ornate fireplaces were never designed to have working chimneys, and what appears to be a giant Bedouin canopy in the auditorium is plaster and steel rods designed to help funnel sound to the farthest balcony.

Originally intended as the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque, a headquarters for a 5000-member Shriners organization, the $2.75 million project was completed only with funding and a twenty-one year lease by movie mogul William Fox, who was building theatres around the country at the time. The theatre opened on December 25, 1929, just two months after the stock market crash. After 125 weeks of talking pictures and stage entertainment, the Fox Theatre declared bankruptcy. It floundered financially during the 1930s and both William Fox and the Shriners lost their economic interests in the building.

In 1939, the movie perhaps most associated with Atlanta and the South, Gone with the Wind, premiered at the (now-demolished) Loew's Grand Theatre rather than the Fox. The parade down Peachtree Street for the movie’s premier coincidentally started just outside of the Fox because the movie’s cast was staying across the street at the Georgian Terrace Hotel.

During the 1940s the Fox acquired strong management and became one of the finest movie theatres in Atlanta. It was also at this time that the Egyptian Ballroom became Atlanta’s most popular public dance halls and hosted all the important big bands and country and western swing bands of the era. It was notable at that time, for being the only theatre in Atlanta allowing both white and black patrons. However, there was a separate black box office, entrance, and seating, The segregation wall in the middle of the second dress seating still stands, and the "colored" box office window stands unused at the back entrance.

In 1974, Southern Bell, the regional arm of AT&T, approached the owners of the theatre with an offer to buy and with the intent of tearing it down and building a new headquarters on the site. A group was formed to save the theatre and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 1974. The ensuing public outcry and massive campaign resulted in the city refusing to issue a demolition permit and ultimately, a complicated deal was brokered that prevented the Fox's demolition. The Southern Bell headquarters were built on land adjacent to the theatre. The U.S. Department of the Interior subsequently named the Fox a National Historic Landmark on May 26, 1976.

After the Fox was saved from the demolition, a lengthy and expensive restoration process began. Luckily much of the original décor had survived and new pieces were created with the help of old photographs. Today, the Fox appearance looks much like it did when it opened, with some additions that were in the original plans but scrapped in the 1920’s because of financial constraints, and other changes that had to be made to bring the building up to current safety codes.

The theatre, now run under the non-profit Atlanta Landmarks, Inc., currently hosts a multitude of cultural and artistic events including the Atlanta Ballet, a summer film series, and performances for various national touring companies of Broadway shows. Because of its origins as a movie house, the Fox has a relatively shallow stage by theatrical standards and is unable to accommodate some of the set pieces required by modern large scale shows such as The Lion King and Miss Saigon.

The “Mighty MO”

The Fox features a four manual (or keyboard) 42-rank pipe organ nicknamed the "Mighty Mo". It was custom built for the Fox by M. P. Möller, Inc. in 1929 in Hagerstown, Maryland. With 3,622 pipes, it is the second-largest theatre organ in the country, behind the Wurlitzer at Radio City Music Hall in New York and was the largest theatre instrument built by Moller.

As a true theatre organ, as opposed to a church organ, Mighty Mo's pipes range in size from 32 feet (nearly 10 meters) tall to the size of a small ballpoint pen, and is designed to imitate the sounds of a full orchestra. Besides the pipes, it also contains a marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, drums, sleigh bells, a gong, and even a six-foot (1.8m) grand piano (originally from the Kilgen organ in Chicago's Picadilly Theatre); plus a large variety of silent movie sound effects (such as various car horns, thunder and rain effects, bird whistles, etc.). The organ is remarkable for a theatre organ because it also includes 12 ranks of pipes for a church organ, known as the "Ethereal" division. Thus the organ can be played as a church organ as well as a theatre organ. It is noteworthy that the Mighty Mo is among the shrinking list of instruments which remain installed in the theatre for which it was designed; many theatre organs which remain today have been preserved only through removal from their original homes.

For more information: (visit link)

For information on Performances, Ticket and tours: (visit link)
Street address:
600 Peachtree St
Atlanta, GA USA
30308


County / Borough / Parish: Fulton

Year listed: 1974

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Event

Periods of significance: 1925-1949

Historic function: Recreation And Culture / Theater

Current function: Recreation And Culture / Theater

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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