Bob Foreman Shares the Frank Adam (Stage Lighting Control) 1952 Catalog

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on March 10, 2016 at 10:25 am


From Mr. Foreman – “Frank Adam Electric Company of St. Louis, known for its commercial fuse boxes, entered the stage lighting control field in the late teens, when they introduced the concept of pre-set ("pre-selection”) in the switching portion of their stage lighting Switchboards. (Dimming preset and proportional mastering made their debut in 1932, when the first electronic Switchboard was installed at Radio City Music Hall.)

“Pre-selection” became possible when Adam removed the high amperage switches from the stage Switchboard and replaced them with remote-controlled contacters, usually located in the basement beneath the board. The 1920 trade ad shows that Adam had not yet unified the dimming and switching portions of their Switchboard. The 1925 ad shows the typical unified Frank Adam Switchboard that was installed in hundreds of theatres, in collaboration with Major Corporation who furnished the lighting equipment.

Adam would claim title to world’s largest (and widest) Switchboard installed at the 1930 Hollywood Pantages. At 29 feet wide, the machine included two slow motion wheels.

Frank Adam and its chief competitor, Hub Electric of Chicago, continued to supply schools with Switchboards for fifty years after the 1929 crash put an end to Movie Palace construction. Both companies folded circa 1980, unable to keep up with advances in SCR dimmers and memory control.

At least two Adam installations are still in operation, including the Masonic Hall in Scranton, PA, (photo below courtesy John Cardoni and Rick Boychuk), and the Tampa Theatre."

To enjoy the catalog, images, and for more information please visit Bob Foreman’s site:

Highlight and right click links to open in a new tab.

ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at





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