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Eliza1013

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  1. For those who had trouble reading the article here is a transcript.

    The Phantom Of The Fox

    By Kristi Casey Sanders

    Joe Patten's favorite musical is The Phantom Of The Opera. But when the show comes to town, he never has to buy a ticket. From his bedroom, he can walk into The Fox Theatre's auditorium, where he always has a seat. Like the musical's phantom, Patten's home literally is in the theater.

    "'The Phantom of the Fox' is actually what many people call me," Patten says. "I know the building so well, I can get to one end to the other by strange ways, without being seen.:"

    Patten's knowledge of the building's layout and infrastructure comes honestly. As a founding member of Atlanta Landmarks Inc., Patten played a leading role in the 1974 "Save the Fox" movement. After the organization assumed ownership of the Fox. Patten became the theater's technical director. Over the years, he has helped restore and maintain the building's electrical, sound, lighting, projection, air conditioning and heating system.

    Patten always loved The Fox Theatre- it was the main reason he moved to Atlanta after World War II- but he never expected to move in. "I was having problems where my home was in College Park, because I was very close to the airport," Patten recalls. "My plan was to buy a condominium downtown. Some people within Atlanta Landmarks Inc. said 'You know the building so well. Isn't there some place suitable for you to live [inside]?"

    Patten thought about the proposal and knew exactly where to start. The Ancient Arabic Order of the Mystic Shrine, The Fox Theatre's original tenants, had office space off the Fox's ballrooms that wasn't being used. Out of that space, he created a three-story, 3,640-sq. ft. apartment. He walled off an archway leading into the Grand Salon and converted a bathroom into an entryway, preserving a private gated entrance off Ponce de Leon Avenue.

    "I started reconstructing this in 1978 at my expense, because I didn't have to buy a condominium," Patten says. "Then I gave it to Atlanta Landmarks. They own it, but I have the right to live here the rest of my life without paying rent." Patten's presence in the Fox is credited with stopping a pre-dawn electrical fire that broke out in the building's attic in 1996, and has provided the building with much-needed security.

    "My living here enabled me to really enjoy the building more than I had when I [lived elsewhere]," Patten says. Living in the Fox also allowed Patten to complete his true life's work: restoring the Fox's Mighty Moller organ.

    Since childhood, Patten has been fascinated by pipe organs. Growing up in Lakeland, Fla., Patten used to hang out with the church organist. "There was a theater organ in Tampa, Fla., and my parents knew the [owners]," Patten remembers. "My parents spoke to them, and they agreed to open the theater for us on Saturday mornings. The organist and I would ride over in her Model A Ford and play."

    Lakeland had three church organs. Whenever a repairman came to town to fix or tune an organ. Patten assisted him. "During World War II, gasoline and tires and anything associated with transportation was very hard to find, so organ repairmen could not make the trip from Jacksonville to Lakeland." Patten says. "I had learned from them over the years, and I began working on them. More and more people found out about my talent, and I began to repair organs all over Central Florida."

    In January 1963, Patten organized some members of the American Theatre Organ Society, and they approached The Fox Theatre's management about fixing it's 1929 organ, which had fallen into disrepair. "I was given permission to repair it," Patten remembers. "In November 1963, we reintroduced the pipe organ. From that point on, it has been used on a regular basis."

    It only took Patten nine months to get the organ in playable shape, but it took him more than 40 years to get it to its original condition. Over the years, he has replaced nearly seven miles (36,000 feet) of wire, changed the voltage of the electro-pneumatic system so that each stop of the organ sounds evenly, replaced pipes and added instruments, including a 6 ft. Baldwin grand piano he donated to the Fox. "There are six big rooms that house the organ pipe work and the various instruments it has," he says. When an organist pulls a stop on the console, it allows him or her to play the instruments housed on either side of the stage remotely.

    From a mechanic's standpoint, Patten is optimistic about the organ's future. "A hundred years from now or 200 years from now or 1,000 years from now, the organ can be rebuilt, because we're dealing with leather, wood and metal," Patten says. "These instruments can be repaired or replaced." Unlike Patten. The Fox Phantom's legacy truly is unique.

    The Photos: (from left to right): A tile backsplash is reminiscent of the theater's tile work; the apartment has its own organ; an antique bank safe; supports plants in the kitchen; overlook Ponce de Leon; the Phantom behind one of his secret passages.

  2. Seumus and I had the privilege of seeing Les Miserables at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA last night. It was spectacular we both really enjoyed it.

    But what was truly awesome was an article we found in the playbill. Apparently the Fabulous Fox has it's very own real life Phantom! I scanned the article about him and here it is for your reading pleasure.

    Posted Image

    Posted Image

    I was just about to tell Seumus to look around for anyone lurking in the boxes or in the shadows when he read the headline of the article to me. It's too bad we didn't know about this the last time we were at the Fox, because we were there to see 'The Phantom Of The Opera' there that night. I guess there were two Phantoms in the theatre that night; The Phantom Of The Opera AND The Phantom Of The Fox!

  3. This is a cool thread. For most of my life I have believed that there is some truth to the story, and that Erik was a real person. I also have looked at Phantom sites and learn some very interesting things. How I came across the story the first time, was when I was going to be singing 'Music Of The Night' in chorus, and wanted to know the rest of the story. So I bought the Gaston Leroux book and read it, and was hooked ever since. My image of him will always be one I have imagined, when I starting reading the Leroux book a long time ago.

  4. Hey,

    That's so cool that you were able to see POTO again! I haven't been able to see this tour, I loved reading your review of it, it sound like it was alot of fun! I am really wanting to see it again now. That is so cool that you got to see it with Michael Crawford! The LV Spectacular did seem a little bit rushed, but I was awed (is that a word?) by the rising chandelier! I am hoping while in Europe for christmas I will be able to see it at the Her Majesty's Theatre. The last tour I was able to see of POTO was a few years ago (almost to the day) with Gary Mauer as The Phantom.

  5. I saw the Claude Rains version when I first got into POTO years ago. I thought it was really good. I also liked how they had him playing the violin in it as well, the violin is a beautiful instrument. I always wanted to learn how to play it. So I bought myself one and am planning on it soon.

    I just the other week bought the 2 disc DVD of this version and it has an interesting documentary on the second one.

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