Backstage at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre
Have you ever wondered what it is like ‘Backstage’ at a theatre like Atlanta’s Fox? Are you working on an historic theatre restoration and need some insight into the backstage portion of the project? Thanks to Bob Foreman and Gary Motter you can get a unique look at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre’s Hub Switchboard, Audio and Electro-Mechanicals, and Talking Picture Projection.
“Architect Ollivier J. Vinour of the Atlanta firm Marye Alger & Vinour was responsible for the aesthetics of the Atlanta Fox, but consulting engineer C. Howard Crane was in complete charge of the physical layout and all details theatrical, as reflected in his preliminary 1928 drawing set. Crane was the primary architect of the Brooklyn, Detroit and St. Louis Fox Theatres, and Vinour had worked in Crane’s Detroit office.”
“…2500 light bulbs in the Atlanta Fox Theatre were controlled by the Hub Pre-set Selective Theatre Control (Resistance Type) or Switchboard for short, the nerve center of the Theatre. Press releases asserted that “all the switches are fully protected, the operator being fronted by an entirely insulated board,” meaning that unlike its primitive ancestors of a mere ten years prior, the Fox board was dead front with slot-closing switches and dimmer control levers. The first operator so insulated was Cliff Clower, IATSE Local No. 41.
The Hub Switchboard represented the state of the art in compactness, and its handsome appearance was in stark contrast to the ungainly boards of a decade before.
Eugene Braun, the Electrical Supervisor of Fox’s New York Roxy Theatre and a lighting designer before the term came into usage (and the first to specialize in musical stage spectacles) traveled down from New York “to superintend” the installation of the Switchboard and all other stage lighting apparatus. The New York Roxy Hub Switchboard (1927) which was claimed to be the largest in the world was a mere twenty inches wider than its younger brother at the Fox…"
You can see the Roxy’s marquee switchboard in the last photo here.
Read more about Backstage at the Fox here: http://backstagefox1929.blogspot.com/
You can also see a complete set of plans of the Fox as of 1929 here
images courtesy of Backstagefox1929.blogspot.com