Inside The Fox


The Fox's exterior was envisioned to look like a walled city taken out of the Middle East and placed into the heart of Dixie. Continuing the theme being of a vast city, different Middle-Easterned architecture styles are employed within to give the building the feel of being composed of assorted buildings placed next to each other. The architecture presents each individual interior space differently as each room follows an individual style inspired by the architecture of ancient North Africa, Egypt, Northern India, Persia, and Southern Spain. While some styles are repeated, no room repeats what is in another inside the Fox.

Furnishing the Fox

Ketcham and Rothschild, a furniture and theater supply company located in Chicago Illinois, produced all the original furniture for the Fox as well as the other Fox Theaters of that era. Ketcham and Rothschild went out of buiness in 1938. The carpets, draperies, rugs, linoelium, and other upholstery were sourced from the Greater New York Export House. Light fixtures were made by Sterling Bronze Company of New York. Most of the interior hardware (door knobs, door pulls, hinges, etc.) were crafted by the Shipliegh Hardware Company of St. Louis.

William Fox's wife, Eve Leo Fox, considered herself to be a "Modern Woman" and she did not want to be a traditional housewife that was content to sit at home and oversee the household affairs. She wanted to have a career even though they were fabulously wealthy. Eve took a personal interest in interior decoration and considered herself to be a trained interior decorator. Eve did interior decorating jobs for friends and associates. In addition, William Fox allowed Eve to take personal supervision of the interior decoration of some of his theaters.

It was highly publicized that Eve took personal direction in the interior decoration of the Atlanta Fox however there is no evidence that is true. The myth stated that after traveling to the Middle East to perform "research" specificially for the Atlanta Fox, Eve Fox went to Chicago with sketches and fabric samples to consult with representatives of Ketcham and Rothschild. After these meetings, the company then custom built all of the Fox's furniture.  Thanks to the extensive research the Fox's first Restoration Director, Rick Flinn, we know that while all of the Fox's original furnishings came from Ketcham and Rothschild, it was all selected from thier standard theater supply catalog. Once the items were selected from the catalog, it was then custom made for the Atlanta Fox, perhaps using upholstery choices that were appropriate for the Fox's interior.

Mrs. Fox may have traveled to the Middle East and she may have had some input on which patterned upholstery choices that were used on items out of the Ketcham and Rothschild's catalog, but beyond that possibility, I highly doubt there was any other involvement by Mrs. Fox. There is no evidence that Mrs. Fox ever travelled to Atlanta. If she had, it would be been of great importance in Atlanta societal circles and would have been widely reported about in the local newspapers. In the early 1990s, Friends of the Fox performed an in-depth research project of cataloging every mention of the Atlanta Fox and Shrine Mosque since 1900 in the Atlanta newspaper archives, there was no mention of Eve Fox ever being in Atlanta.

Another fact that goes far to further debunk this myth is that the entire building was owned by the Shriners. I do not believe the Yaarab Temple, a most decidely "men's club", would have allowed the wife of their tenant to decorate their portion of Mosque. With that said, I have found various photographs of the other Super Fox Theaters (Detriot, St. Louis, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and San Francisco, that had the same furnishings and light fixtures as the Atlanta Fox.

Since the time that the Fox opened to the public, it has lost a lot of its furnishings. I would imagine that during and after the Shriner's lost ownership of the building in 1932, is when the furnishings began to leave the building. For most of it's life prior to Atlanta Landmark's ownership, people had very little regard to the preservation of the building. No one dreamed the Fox complex would become historically important. Managers and employees would give away or take for themselves pieces of furniture. It is a known fact that some managers gave away some furniture as gifts. Some furniture that was in poor condition was simply tossed into the trash.

As shocking as this is today, you have to remember that the Fox, like a lot of the other grand movie palaces, were constantly considered to be great white elephants of no real consequence. No one had an inkling that any of the great movie palaces would go on to become historical treasures. A lot of furnishings were given away, stolen, or discarded with no second thought given to what was being done. When the Fox was in peril of being torn down after it closed on January 2nd 1975, one person drove his pickup truck into the Arcade and backed it up to the main entrance doors of the Fox to help himself to some of the Fox's furniture. He was caught by Joe Patten who stopped him and made him put back the furniture. After that, Joe got a group together that moved all the furniture to the basement in a secure location where it was kept under lock and key until the theater reopened. 

Thanks to having photographs taken just days before the Fox opened its doors, we can see how fully furnished the Fox was. The Fox archives also had the original inventory lists of what was purchased for the building. It was said that approximately more than a third of the Fox's original furniture was missing when Atlanta Landmarks took over the building. After the Fox was saved, Atlanta Landmarks began a quiet program of attempting to locate as many of the Fox's original appointments. Atlanta Landmarks has no legal claim on any of the Fox's furniture that left the building prior to its ownership, therefore anything that was located either had to be purchased or donated back to the Fox. Some items that had been given to its current owners usually had some special attachment that made it hard to part with. In light of that, people were asked to remember the Fox in their will so that once they died, the item could be returned to the Fox. This was a very effective request that most people agreed to. Overall, the program had good success in retrieving several items and over the decades, many of the items have returned to the Fox.

Once the Fox was saved, one of the early restoration projects was to restore and reupholster the furniture that was in the Fox. House staff and members of Friends of the Fox helped in the stripping and cleaning of the upholstered furniture. Then volunteers from the Atlanta Area Technical School undertook the task of rebuilding and reupholstering the items back to as close to their original appearance. As you can see, the work that was done is remarkable. Since that time, a lot of the furniture has gone through yet another round of restoration. During the first restorations, the emphasis was put on making the furniture useable with minor consideration of totally restoring it back to its 1929 condition. Now that the Fox is operating with more money to spend on its maintanence and restoration, the Preservation Staff at the Fox undertakes extensive research to replace the materials previously used in repairs and restoration to something that closely replicates its original upholstery. Just as Rick Flinn did with the carpet, the staff uses photographs taken in 1929 and some deduction that Sherlock Holmes would be proud of to figure out the color palates. The design work is sent to a manufacturer of custom textiles in the Metro Atlanta area where the patterns are woven into new upholstery. So far, miles of cloth have been made for this on-going restoration task.

Other furniture and appointments that were in other Atlanta movie houses have been added to the Fox's collection when they were shuttered and razed. It seems this was going on well before Atlanta Landmarks came onto the scene. According the John C. McCall Jr, a long time authority on theaters in Atlanta, some of  the furniture from the Atlanta Roxy, made its way to the Fox. How and why it was sent over to the Fox is unknown. The most plausible explanation is that the Georgia Theater Company was operating those theaters when they were shuttered. Prior to the theater being razed as much equipment, fixtures, and equipment was sold or salvaged.  Since the Fox remained in operation, the decision was made to transfer furnishings to the Fox before the shuttered theaters were demolished.

Touring the Fox

We are once again standing in the Arcade at the main entrance to the auditorium. I prefer to be a bit "old school" and perform my tour somewhat in the way we did tours in the 1970s. We will enter into the main lobby area and tour it, the main lounges, as well as the Spanish Room since it is now considered part of of that portion of the building. We will then travel upstairs and tour the Mezzanine as well as the Dress Circle before entering the Auditorium on the Balcony. After that, we will return to the mezzanine so we can to tour the Mosque portion of the building that consists of the Grand Staircase, Grand Salon, Terraces, Egyptian Ballroom and finally the Potentate's Offices that became Joe Patten's private residence. Finally, we'll take a "magical carpet ride" all over to peer into the inner-workings of the Fox to see how some of its magic is done.

The Foyer

As we enter into the Fox's auditorium, we go through a large foyer area. This space was a traditional desgin element of many building that helps keep out unwanted noise, light, and weather from the interior section of a building. This space is only about fifteen feet deep and it has an equal number of doors on both sides of the foyer for an easy flow of traffic through it. On the left-hand wall there is a large fountain. There are three orignal fountains located in various places inside the Fox. Each fountain in the Fox is unique. When the Fox was new, they were stocked with goldfish and plants. As with a lot of things at the Fox, tending to the fountains became less of a priority and at some point, the fish were never replenished, then the fountains were completely turned off to reduce the cost of the building's water bills. As the building aged, the plumbing fell into disrepair and the fountains couldn't be used even if they wanted to. To further make their use impractical, the fountains in the Fox do not use a recycling water system. The water flows from the lion's head fountain and eventually drains out of the fountian into the sewer system. To my knowledge, the fountains have not been used for decades long before the building was saved in 1975. During the Spanish Room project, a fourth fountain was added by the ADA-compliant restrooms. I understand that is a modern fountain with a recyclable water system.

A former Atlanta Landmarks board member passed many years ago and made a large donation to the Fox, requesting that money (all that was estimated to be needed for the project) be used to make the fountains recyclable and usable. One of the policies I disagree with Atlanta Landmarks on is that if you make a monetary donation, it is not guarranteed it will be used for the purpose you express the donation is for. I understand the donation was for over $50,000, which is a big deal, and it was very important for the deceased that the fountains be returned to service, but the Fox did not use the money to renovate the fountains. 

On the other side of the foyer is a large hot water radiator. There are several of these radiators used throughout the building for localized heat. Like a lot of other buildings of the period, the Fox uses hot water that is pumped throughout the building to radiant heaters to warm areas throughout the Fox complex.The radiator is concealed by an ornate metal grille. The grille not only conceals the radiator, but serves as a heat shield. for obvious safety reasons.  

The Lobby

Crossing over the second threshold of the foyer, you enter into the world of make believe as you step into the main lobby. If you were coming for a movie back in the day, you'd be greeted by a member of the house staff, asking you for your ticket as you enter the lobby. He'd take the ticket and drop it into the brass ticket chopper. During the day, the wheel on the side of the chopper would be turned and the tickets would be shredded. Obviously that would make the ticket unusable. Today ticket management is done via electronics that scan the ticket as you enter.
There are a tremendous amount of things in the Fox that are not what they would appear to be. The entire interior of the Fox is entirely covered in plaster of paris that has been made to look like stone, brick, mortar, canvas, or wood. There is not one wall in the public areas that is not covered in plaster. Many tricks were used to make the plaster look different and have the texture of other materials. My favorite story is that when they were doing the stonework, cereals like Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies were ground up and put in the plaster to give it a different textures. Rick Flinn, the Fox's original Restoration Director states this is a myth, but whatever they did gives the plasterwork a very realistic texture.

Even the wood beams are plaster. They were poured into molds on the floor and once they were hardened, they would be put in place and finally decorated. I was told that craftsmen from St. Louis Illinois were brought to Atlanta just to create the beams. Restoring the beams and other plasterwork have proved to be one of the toughest parts of the restoration effort here at the Fox. The knowledge and craftsmanship of the artisans who built the Fox had been lost over the years. The Restoration Staff had to re-discover how things were done in order to restore, then preserve the building. Making this even tougher, Fox artisans had to not only work at replicating what the original construction crew did, but they now have to take into account the current age of what they are repairing and make their work look like the rest of the materials surrounding it.

What looks to be metal panels or gold leaf is also plaster that was created in a mold, then glued into place. Once affixed to the wall, a ultra-thin metal "leaf" was adhered to the plaster then stained to make it look like silver, gold, or brass. The result is so believable, during the "Dark Days" of saving the Fox, many people asked why couldn't the gold leaf be removed and sold in order to help save the building.

Around the Fox, you will notice the lavish use of orante patterned artwork that has an organic, plant-like look to it. This is taken from the Islamic tradition of the areas that the Fox draws its inspiration from. In Islam, it is forbidden to depict images of men, women, or animals for fear of creating idols that people could worship. Therefore artisans employed floral or geometric designs that are known as the Arabesque style. These patterns are used extensively on the upper walls of the Lobby.

On the right hand wall, where the entrance to the Spanish Room concession stands is now, was the original location of the first concession stand for the whole theater. Originally, there were no concession stands in the building. During that period, there were street vendors that sold food and drink you were allowed to bring into the theater. This was at a time when the concept of selling food and drink as an added revenue stream had not been realized. At the time the original large movie theaters and the grand Movie Palaces were built, the film industry was trying to shun a reputation of being low-brow entertainment. Film industry moguls were eager to make film as important as other performing arts. Since people did not have snacks or refreshments during the opera, ballet, or plays, the moguls felt there should be no snacks in their theaters too. That is, until they realized they could make a buck off of it!!!

The moguls and film exhibitors eventually realized how profitable it was for the street vendors to sell snacks and drinks to their patrons. When the decision was made to sell concessions in the Fox, a small, single concession stand was built for patrons to visit as they first walked into the lobby. It is mind boggling to think that one small stand right by the main doors could handle the needs of such a large theater.

Further down that wall are a pair of ornate elevators. They are the only elevators in the auditorium portion of the complex. They are upholstered with hand decorated  leather panels that bear an Egyptian motif. The elevators were designed to be operated by a staff member. During most of the Fox's pre-1975 life, they were not used so the number of staff members could be kep to a minimum. Today, one person is usually tasked to operate one of the elevators during performances so the Fox complies with federal ADA regulations.

As amazing as it may sound, when the Fox opened, there were no concession stands inside the Fox. In time, movie theaters tried to generate more income and that was accomplished by offering concessions. At the Fox, a basic concession stand was built on northern-most wall of the lobby. In 1953, when the Fox was renovated, the old concession stand was removed and a much larger, round Art Deco styled concession stand was constructed in the center of the lobby. At the same time, other renovations were done to modernize the aging theatre. The very worn original carpet was replaced with a carpet that had a generic floral print, which the house staff named the "Paramount Swirl" design.

Between 1953 and 1976 when the Fox was a movie house, having a much bigger stand in the center of the lobby was not a problem as it never had a full house of patrons. However, when the Fox reopened and continually had sold out performances, the round concession stand became a huge problem that caused traffic congestion and created a lot of distracting noise during performances. In addition to the traffic and noise, the concession stand was over 30 years old and its aged plumbing developed serious leaks that was causing serious damage to the ladies lounge located directly below it. It was a no-brainer that the stand had to be removed and concession service relocated.

The problem was solved when the Spanish Room, whose original purpose was a rehearsal hall for the Shirners musical units. the room was re-purposed into the main concession area for the auditorium. Once that project was completed, the lobby concession stand was demolished, the leaky plumbing removed, and carpeting placed over where it once stood.

At first this made a huge positive difference in the Lobby, but over time and the desire to sell more and more concessions, the management decided to place additional concession stands in back into the Lobby area. The largest addition was alarge consesion stand that sits in front of the auditorium, between the left and right center aisles. There are other non-permanent stands that are placed in the lobby that can be moved and placed as needed. With the additon of these new stands, traffic congestion once again returned and is a major issue.

During the conversion of the old Potentate's office into the apartment living space for Joe Patten, Joe discovered a  ragged square of the orginal carpet was found under a filing cabinet. That combined with black and white photographs taken prior to the theatre's opening allowed Rick Flinn to be able to achieve his goal of exacting authenticity. While the scrap piece of carpeting positively identified the colors used in the main carpet pattern, Rick had to deduce how other colors were used in other parts of the carpet by deduction from the color palates used in each room on the furniture and walls of those areas. A company in Ireland was commissioned to make the new carpets that was weaved by hand at a cost of approximately $125,000,which was donated specifically for the carpet by a single individual. This process used to weave the carpets was so labor intensive; it is no longer done. The company informed the Fox that this was their last project as they were going out of business. The carpet was installed in 1981, just before the world premiere of Burt Reynold's movie Sharky's Machine. Due to the tight budget, very little extra carpet was manufactured, but there was one peice large enough to cover the area the old concession stand stood once it was torn out following the completion of the Spanish Room concession area project in the late 1980s. 

Being a volunteer at the Fox for several years before the carpet was put in, I can say that of all the things that were done at the Fox during the "early years", nothing could compare to the effect having the new carpet installed had. The old "Paramount Swirl" carpet was old, worn, tattered and very dirty. Having it all ripped out and replaced by bright new carpet made the Fox look tremendously better. You could tell the Fox had made the turn from once being threatened by a wrecking ball to the Grand Dame of Peachtree Street.

On the left wall of the lobby is a row of doors that lead to another foyer and thorugh it, the exterior doors on the Ponce deLeon side of the building. As I mentioned before, this was the planned main entrance to building before Mr. Fox became associated with the building. Because this was envisioned as the main entrance and construction was well underway prior to the change, this pathway is a lot more ornate than that of the Peachtree foyer. The Fox Theatre eventually became a "Smoke-Free" environment because not only is smoking a personal health issue and a potential fire hazard, but tobacco smoke also damages all the hard work that has been put into restoring the building by covering it with a film of tar and nicotine. In order to accomodate those who just have to smoke during their visit to the Fox, they are allowed to walk out to a roped-off area just outside the Ponce deLeon Avenue doors in order to smoke during a performance.

Originially, the wall between the lounge staircase and the Ponce doors was the location of theater's office, storage room, and coat check. When the theater opened, this office was the one and only office for the entire theater until the new "corporate" offices were built in the 1980s. While the coat check is no longer offered to the general public, it was used for the volunteer usher staff to store their belongings as they work during performances. Over 150 volunteer ushers and staff are the standard compliment for a show, so this was a valuable asset. Finally there was a small room located towards the southern end of the lobby that was used for storage and other staff related tasks.

The eastern wall of the lobby played a very important part in saving the building when the Fox suffered a major fire in April of 1996. This is a solid brick wall and it served as a vital firewall that prevented the fire from spreading out of the southeastern corner of the building. There was smoke damage in the auditorium as well as some water damage in the Spanish Room, but the fire and the water that put it out, were largely kept out because of this wall. After the fire, everything on the other side of the wall had to be rebuilt. Through adversity comes advantages and when that portion of the building was rebuilt, it was heavily reconfigured with an eye on the long term needs of the Fox. The Fox's operating offices now take up the vast majority of that section of the building. The coat check room is now located where the old office used to be while the new event office door is where the old coat check room door was. The old storage room is now the "Landmarks Lounge".  The Lounge is is a small meeting room that can hold up to 30 guests in an intimate setting before, during, and after a performance. As with the other rooms and halls, this room is for rent for special occassions such as birthday parties, or small corporate functions that are held in conjunction with a performance at the Fox.

The Spanish Room is the final part of our main lobby tour. This is the one area of the Fox that has been most altered since its construction. The Spanish Room was originally used originally as a rehearsal area for the Yaarab Temple's musical performance groups. In its original configuration, it was a room that had three generously sized private rehearsal rooms about 12 feet square. The room also connected to two restrooms, and a small kitchen. Behind the kitchen were stairs and an elevator that led to another larger kitchen, utility rooms, dressing rooms, and showers for the Shriners. There was also a back entrance to the stage located in the Egyptian Ballroom.

The main room had approximately 5,000 square feet of flooring, about the same size as the Grand Salon. Directly below the Spanish Room was another 5,000 square foot area that contained the Shrine musical unit's locker room, showers, dressing area and storage area for their instruments and gear. A ggod portion of those areas were demolished during the Spanish Room's conversion to a concession area for the main auditorium.  Today, what is left of those areas is used as the central recieving and storage area for the Fox's concession and ballroom food service. There is a large modern walk-in cooler and freezer. Beverages are pumped up to the concession areas from this level.

Because this was not a true public area like the Egyptian Ballroom or Grand Salon, the Spanish Room was not highly decorated. It did however receive wooden beams in the ceiling, ornatmented chandeliers, and capital detailing above the windows. During in the 1940s to 1975, it was used as offices for the Georgia Theater Company. From what I personally saw during my time helping to restore the room, the entranceway to the room from the Arcade was given a modernization treatment that was typical of the era. Cheap, inexpensive wood paneling was fitted to the walls. Industrial-grade low-pile carpeting was literally glued to the floor tiles leading into the room. Finally, a cheap wire frame drop ceiling with fluorescent light fixtures was installed to conceal the original ceiling of the entranceway. The original light fixtures of the room were removed and office partitions were placed about the room to create cubicals for workers to operate from. When Atlanta Landmarks took over the building, it was decided to give the room a quick restoration effort so the room could be used as a third small rental hall. When I started my volunteer restoration work at the Fox, I found myself part of that effort.

Considering what was underneath the paneling and drop ceiling, it was an absolutely terrible thing that was done to this room. I spent many hours using a backhoe scrapping off the cement and foam backing from the carpet off the floor.The room began to return to how it was envisioned to originally be. When I first saw the room, it had been painted stark white. It was decided to paint the room in an orangish-color. Later, Rick Flinn repainted the room in a more inviting tan-tone that better reflected the rest of the Fox interior and. looked much more appropriate for its stucco-like surface Rick Flinn fitted the room with chandeliers and sconces that complimented the original beam work since the originals fitted in 1929 were long gone. The hardwood floor was resurfaced and sealed. Friends of the Fox worked with Rick later on to build window valences that went over the windows that now overlooked the open air BellSouth parking lot. The hard work led to a room worthy of being called a ballroom. By the end of the 1970s, the room was pretty much back to it's pre-GTC era look.

By the mid-1980s, it was decided the Fox needed more room in the lobby and it was needed more than a third ballroom. This is when the idea came abot to renovate the Spanish Room into the main auditorium concession area for the Lobby. Over 1.5 million dollars was donated to fund the Spanish Room project. Work began in 1986 and was the most ambitious project undertaken at the Fox. As it worked out the Lobby and the Spanish Room area both shared a common segment of wall. It was on the south east corner of the Spanish Room and the north east corner of the Lobby near the entrance of the Arcade. While they shared a common wall, the Spanish Room  was approximately 38 inches higher than the floor in the lobby. In order to overcome this, Rick Flinn decided that the rehersal rooms as well as the connecting hallway behind them would be totally removed and that portion of the floor dropped to match the Lobby level. A staircase would be constructed as well as an ADA-compliant ramp so patrons could have easy access up and into the Spanish Room.

On the other three walls of the main Spanish Room hall where the restrooms, kitchen, and exterior windows were, recessed concession stations were built into the walls so the original size of the room could be maintained. Since the northern wall was an exterior wall, a new exterior wall was built approximately 8 feet out from the original wall for the concession service areas could be built between the two walls. On the outside, the new exterior wall helped to clean up the appearance of that side of the Fox by serving as a portion of the fire escape stairs that replaced rather old iron stairs that were tacked onto the building.

In order to make the renovated area look as if it was originally part of the Fox, Rick took exacting care to select paint colors and appointments to integrate the room into the rest of the building. Something he had to take into consideration is that the room would have totally different lighting from the rest of the Lobby. Rick had to pick special paint shades so that under the new lighting conditions, the room would look like a natural extension of the Lobby The design of the room incorporated ornamental appointments from other areas of the Fox, such as a new fountain and door trim detail into the new portion of the room in order for it to integrate into the overall design of the Fox.

An example of this detail was the continuation of the faux wooden beams that decorate the ceiling. The beams in the main area of the Spanish Room are original to the room with new beams that were created for the space where the rehearsal rooms and hallway once were. The new beams are virtually indistinguishable from the old ones. In addition to the new details, pretty much all of the original detailing of the Spanish Room remained intact. To help dampen noise in the room, sound deadening panels were installed on the ceiling between the wood beams.

The is one other item about the room I should mention. The original main room and rehersal rooms were fitted with an oak wood floor. Not too long before the renovation project took place, a  lot of money was spent on striping and refinishing the floor. Because of the amount of traffic that would be in the room, it was felt that a wooden floor would act as a reflecting device that would amplify sound in the room. It was decided early on in the project that a large portion of the room would have to be carpeted. During the deconstruction phase of the project, nothing was done to protect the floor and a good portion of it was badly damaged. When the room was completed, portions of the wood floor that were not damaged were used to reconstruct the wood floor that travels along the edge of the room. A new carpet that was installed was made by Couristan in England specifically for this room and takes up the majority of the floor space.

Completing the project, part of the area used for two of the Peachtree Street retail storefronts was used to build much-needed new ADA-compliant restrooms. As with a lot of things with the Fox, the building design was not very friendly to those who have handicaps or mobility issues. The restrooms in the Fox were not ADA-compliant and this was something that simply had to be addressed. To remedy the situation, a significant portion of Retail Bays Seven and Eight were used to construct the new ADA-Compliant restrooms. They do not have additional lounge areas as the other auditorium restroom areas of the Fox have. Today the remaining portion of those retail bays are being used as The Whisper Room, a additonal lounge area for Churchill Grounds, the jazz lounge that occupies Bay Nine.

It took over two years and over 1.5 million dollars to transform the Spanish Room to its new purpose. The result was a spectacular transformation of an odd room configuration into an area that greatly compliments the splendor of the auditorium. Great care was made to make the new work blend into the structure and it was so successful that you cannot tell this room was not originally this way. In 1988, the project was completed when a section of southwest corner wall was removed from the room to open it up to the auditorium lobby. At its dedication, a plaque was installed in the western wall of the Spanish Room dedicating the room to Benjamin Massell. During the "Save the Fox" movement, Massell personally donated over $400,000 to the cause while asking to remain anonymous. Through his donations, it spurred others to make large contributions that helped to make "Save the Fox" successful. Massell died in 1985 and the room was dedicated to his memory.

Completeing our tour of the Lobby area, we take a visit to the Main Lobby Men's and Ladies Lounges. Please note, I am not using the word "lounges" as a nice word to replace restroom or toilets. These are truly lounge areas. These are not just places to go do what nature demands of us to do from time to time, but rather they are lounges designed for patrons to go to so they can escape the goings-on in the auditorium for more than just a few minutes. You have to go back to the 1920s when the Fox was designed to understand why this is.

In the day, theaters such as the Fox held only two showings per day. There was an afternoon matinee as well as the evening performance. The evening performance was usually much longer than the matinee. Prior to the feature film ever beginning, there were usually a number of live performing acts that harken back to the days of vaudeville and would usually take as much, if not more time than the feature film. A whole performance could run three or four hours, depending on the acts and the feature film length. People usually wanted to take a break, go for a "nature break", attend to their hair and make-up, smoke a cigar or cigarette, talk to friends, even browse a newspaper before returning to the auditorium as the performances or film were taking place. The lounge areas in movie palaces offered a very refined area to escape to with that perception of being "king or queen for a day" while at the Fox.  In the Atlanta Fox, there are four lounge areas, two below the main Lobby and two on the Mezzanine levels.

There is a staircase that leads down to the lower lounges as well as to the Fox's Hospital. As you may have noticed the main level lounges are not accessible to anyone who have mobility issues. In the time that the building was constructed, this was not a major concern. If someone who was handicapped needed to use a lounge, they were taken up to the Mezzanine level where the lounges were on that floor level.

The entrance to the main lounges simulate descending into a Moorish fortress with its simulated atmospheric sky, stonewalls, and wooden accents. At the top of the stairs are two large faux urns that harken to the tales of the Ali Baba and the Arabian Nights. Walking down the stairs to the left leads to the men's lounge and the women's lounges to the right. There is a connecting hallway under the staircase that at one time had a wall erected in the middle of it to prevent the improper intermingling of the sexes. Eventually, that wall was removed and there is no trace of it to be seen. From my memories of the wall, whoever built it, did a very good job of replicating the original stone appearance of the wall because it looked as if it was original.

In 1922, British explorer Howard Carter made the discovery of the century by finding Pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb. Prior to that, while the Western World saw things Arabic and Egyptian as very exotic, the discovery of King Tut's Tomb caused an explosion of the craze of all things Egyptian. With the Shriners already employing an Arabic theme, it was only natural to have parts of the Fox decorated in a pure Egyptian motif. There are three predominantly Egyptian areas of the Fox: The lower men's lounge, the Mezzanine level ladies lounge, and the Banquet Hall, now called the Egyptian Ballroom.

The men's lounge was almost purely inspired by King Tut's tomb. When Carter first looked into a small opening into the chamber, he was asked what did he see, to which he replied "Wonderful things!" As the team excavated the tomb, they discovered it to be sparsely decorated, but it was stuffed wall to wall and floor to ceiling with all sorts of things thought the boy king would need in the afterlife. As it turned out, the tomb was the exception, not the rule, leading to speculation that the King was quickly buried in an available tomb and not in what would have normally been used for a member of the royal family.

The overall theme is what a pharoh's burial tomb was perceived to look like, based on the discovery of Tut's tomb. It is a simple room with little decoration. Winged Scarabs appear over the doorways and the furniture is heavily carved with lotus blossoms. There are two pedestal lamps that are replicas of items discovered in Egyptian tombs. On the western wall of the lounge is a relief of a Pharaoh or some other person of royalty or importance riding his chariot. In the Mezzanine Ladies Lounge, there are two similar reliefs. All three have been determined to not represent any particular person. They were simply art pieces that were found in a supply catalog. 

The floor is tiled with plain tile squares and the furnishings are wooden with minimal upholstery reflecting the artifacts removed from Tut's tomb. As in all the lounge areas, there is a built-in telephone booth so one could make a telephone call and have some form of privacy.

There is a Fox legend that when the lower men's lounge was completed, a small alcove was marked with hieroglyphs that depicted the occupations of the various craftsman that worked on the building. While some of these heiroglyphs are authentic glyphs from the Egypt, some of these glyps are made-up as certain construction methods and machines had yet to be invented in antiquity. An impressive Egyptian-themed frosted lamp with various glyphs has been placed in the  alcove.

On the eastern wall there is the main hallway that is lined with urinals on either side. It connects the room to a larger room where the toilets and sinks are located.

Directly across the hall from the Men's Lounge is the Fox's Hospital. Today, we can chuckle over this area being called a Hospital, but when the Fox was new, it was a cutting-edge medical center and capable of giving pretty much the same treatments as an average emergency room of the period sans X-ray and surgical suites. Over the years while it is not documented, it is reported that at least one baby was born in the hospital. Over time with the advent of Paramedics and a major hospital located just two blocks from the Fox, the hospital was no longer staffed with a nurse on duty and the room became non-functional. Eventually, it became used as a storage room as it is now used today.

The ladies' lounge to the right of the hospital has a heavy Turkish theme that is supposed to represent what would be seen inside a Shiek's Harem. In many ways, it is the most luxurious room inside the Fox Complex. It is furnished with comfortable over-stuffed sofas and chairs. As it is with the other lounge areas, the women's lounges are much more lavish and luxuriously appointed than the men's. At the rear of the lounge is a very ornate key-holed shaped door which originally was a broom closet. In 1989, the closet was reworked into an emergency exit. I am told that the exitway is not longer there, perhaps due to how the Fox was reconstructed after the fire of 1996. The door's keyhole shape is the only contoured door in the building. Adorning the lounge area, there are faux backlit windows to continue the impression of being part of a spectacular palace rather than a closed off room in a basement. The floor is fitted with a unique plush blue carpet.

As with the other three lounges, there is a built-in phone booth located in one of the walls. There are two smaller ajoining rooms to this lounge. the first room is a small simple room that now contains a few chairs and a sofa. The ceilings have faux wood beams to add to the atmosphere of the room. The next room in the lounge is about half the size of the previous room and is appointed with several vanites for ladies to touch up their make-up and to do things such as write notes on. Back during the early days of the Fox, the vanities were stocked with Fox Theatre stationary and post cards. The vanities were fitted with a small pair of Sphinxes that sat on either side of the table top. I was told that these figureheads became a favorite target for patrons to steal, even to this day! For that reason, the metal Sphinxes have been replaced with composite cast units that are removed and replaced depending on the function being held at the Fox and the anticipated threat level of theft. Don't presume the sphinxes are removed for just Rock concerts, as more sphinxes have gone missing during classical performances!

The actual restrooms were available from either the vanity room or the smaller room. It was expected a patron would enter via the small room, then  exit into the vanity room so they could check their appearance before exiting the lounge.

As it so happens to be, during intermissions, there is a great demand for the restrooms and because of  "nature's design", it simply takes longer for ladies to cue through the restrooms than men do. This causes extremely long lines to use the ladies rooms.  After the 1996 fire, a much needed expansion took place. The lower ladies restroom area shared a common wall with the original usher's locker room that was destroyed by the fire. To help the ladies restroom, that area was reworked into an expansion of the existing restroom area. This doubled the number of stalls. Care was taken to exactly replicate the look of the original restroom area. You are hard pressed to tell where old ends and new begins. One point of note is that the original restroom tiles on the walls were made by hand. This method caused inconcsistant colorization of the tiles and if you look hard, you can see the different colors in the tiles. In the new section, the tiles were made by modern methods and the color is consistent and uniform.

Continue on to the Mezzanine and Dress Circle Lobby Areas

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