First things first. it's The Fox Theatre, ending in t-r-e, not Fox Theater. And to many folks, it's full name is The Fabulous Fox Theatre. The former movie palace on Atlanta's most famous street (Peachtree) is almost as well known as a place for walking tours and private parties as it is for big shows.
The Fox has plenty of both.
"The Fox is the last and grandest of six movie palaces that once bejeweled downtown Atlanta," according to former AJC writer Jim Auchmutey, who wrote about the Fox on the occasion of its 75th birthday in 2004. "The others -- the Paramount, the Erlanger, the Capitol, the Roxy, Loew's Grand -- have long since vanished," Auchmutey wrote. "The Fox endures because Atlantans, threatened with its demolition, did something they had never done before: They rallied to protect a building from the wrecking ball.
"'It was too cool to tear down,' comedian Jeff Foxworthy at the time. He grew up in Hapeville and remembers slapping a 'Save the Fox' bumper sticker on his car in high school. Years later, when he headlined at the theater for the first time, he stood outside staring at the marquee and marveling: I'm playing the Fox. A photo of that marquee hangs in his home."
The first impression of the Fox is that lighted marquee over the entrance from Peachtree Street. But the marquee pales in comparison to the grandeur of the Arcade entrance.
Now open Marquee Club, a new rooftop lounge. First it's helpful to know that many architectural and decorative features of the Fox are Arabian and Middle Eastern. More on that below. In 2016, The Fabulous Fox Theatre began renovation plans to add a lounge and rooftop bar, with Moroccan decor and what should be a spectacular skyline view of downtown and Midtown Atlanta over Peachtree Street. This project marks the Fox's most significant expansion ever. Or at least since 1929. Take a virtual tour of the rooftop Marquee Club.
Walking tours? Fox Theatre Tours takes paying visitors into places that most theater-goers never see, including a close look at the Moller organ known as Mighty Mo. Chances are you'll learn about the stars on the Arabian-sky ceiling above the balcony. The architecture and stylistic touches throughout the building are amazing and unique. The architecture is heavily influenced by Middle Eastern and Islamic themes, but it has also been called "fantasy architecture" because of the inventive approaches used. The building was originally intended as the headquarters for the Atlanta Shriners, but they partnered with the Fox movie empire in order to pay for it. Fox leased the main auditorium as a movie palace. The National Park Service, under its role as protector of historic sites, has a good overview of the building.
The Fox is popular for private events in its two ballrooms, the Grand Salon and the better known Egyptian Ballroom.
In the summer, there are usually movies as part of the Coca-Cola Summer Music Festival. At Christmas, there's the Nutcracker -- make that The Atlanta Ballet Nutcracker, performed with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra.
How old is the Fox? The theater opened two months after the stock market crash in 1929, opening on Christmas Day. It will turn 90 in 2019.
And no, "Gone With the Wind" did not premiere at the Fox in 1939. That honor went to the Loew's Grand, because of its ties to MGM. The Grand burned in the 1980s and was torn down to make room for a downtown office tower, not far from Margaret Mitchell Square. And it's also true that Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, who played Rhett and Scarlett, stayed across the street from the Fox at the Georgian Terrace hotel when they were in Atlanta for the premiere and GWTW parade.
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