Fox Theatre (Atlanta)

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The Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia is one of the grand movie palaces built in the United States in the 1920s. The theatre's unique origin and Moorish design sets it apart from others of the era. Originally intended as the Yaarab Temple Shrine Mosque, a headquarters for the Shriners, the $2.75 million project was completed only with funding and a twenty-one year lease by movie mogul William Fox, who was building theatres around the country at the time. The 4678-seat theatre, which replicates an Arabian courtyard (complete with a sky of flickering stars and drifting clouds) opened on December 25, 1929, just two months after the Stock Market Crash.

In 1974, Southern Bell, the regional arm of AT&T, approached the owners of the theatre with an offer to buy and with the intent of tearing it down and building a new headquarters on the site. A group was formed to save the theatre and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 1974. The ensuing public outcry and massive campaign resulted in the city refusing to issue a demolition permit and ultimately, a complicated deal that prevented the Fox's demolition and the building of the Southern Bell headquarters on land adjacent to the theatre. The United States Department of the Interior subsequently named the Fox a National Historic Landmark on May 26, 1976.

The theatre currently hosts a multitude of cultural and artistic events including the Atlanta Ballet, a summer film series, and performances for various national touring companies of Broadway shows. Because of its origins as a movie house, the Fox has a relatively shallow stage by theatrical standards and is unable to accommodate some of the set pieces required by modern large scale shows such as The Lion King and Miss Saigon.

The Mighty Mo

Built in the era of silent films, the Fox features a four manual (or keyboard) 42-rank pipe organ nicknamed the Mighty Mo. It was custom built for the Fox by M. P. Möller, Inc. in 1929 in Hagerstown, Maryland. With 3,622 pipes, it is the second largest theatre organ in the country, behind the Wurlitzer at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

As a true theatre organ, as opposed to a church organ, Mighty Mo's pipes range in size from 32 feet tall to the size of a small ballpoint pen, and is designed to imitate the sounds of a full orchestra. Besides the pipes, it also contains a marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, drums, sleigh bells, gongs, etc. and even a 6 ft. grand piano; plus a large variety of silent movie effects (such as various car horns, thunder and rain effects, bird whistles, etc.). It is note worthy that the Mighty Mo is among the shrinking list of instruments which remain installed in the theatre for which it was designed; many theatre organs which remain today have preserved only through removal from their original homes.

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