The Fox Theatre Institute (FTI) is a dynamic organization offering historic preservation and operations expertise, consultation, and education to performing arts venues in Georgia and the region. Created as an outreach program by Atlanta's fabulous Fox Theatre - an iconic attraction widely applauded for being a catalyst for positive change in the community - FTI pays it forward, helping other cultural institutions renew, reinvigorate, and restore artistic vitality in their backyard and beyond.
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The Fox Theatre is proud to say it has the only full-time, in-house Restoration Department of its kind in the United States. Every day, the Restoration Staff works on various projects including documentation, archiving, and finish restorations to keep the Fox in tip-top shape.
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On-Going Furniture Conservation at the Fox
Hand-selected by Eve Fox, wife of movie mogul William Fox, and manufactured in 1929 by Ketcham & Rothschild, the Fox’s collection of original furniture has withstood a good deal of wear and tear over the years, yet appears much as it would have in 1929. Though the furniture collection is now in fair condition, a thorough appraisal indicated that a long-term plan for repair was essential to preserve the collection.
An ongoing Furniture Conservation Project helps to preserve, repair, and restore the theatre’s exquisite furniture collection. It is the theatre’s hope that with careful assessment and furniture repair planning, it will be better able to preserve this wonderful aspect of Fox history for future generations to enjoy.
click an image to enlarge
Before treatment; abraded finishes and
surface vandalism is apparent
In Phase 1, the Fox Theatre hired respected furniture conservators Victoria Jefferies and Thom Gentle to conduct the survey and repairs. Jeffries and Gentle have worked on many important historic collections such as The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, The Fallingwater Collection by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Swan House at the Atlanta History Center, and The Diplomatic Reception Rooms for The United States Department of State.
Of the pieces selected for conservation, the “King Tut” chairs, found in the mezzanine Ladies Lounge, had sustained years of considerable damage that abraded and vandalized the finishes and gilding. Jeffries and Gentle carefully performed cleaning and solubility tests to formulate a treatment protocol, cleaned the surfaces of the two chairs, performed all necessary structural repairs, inpainted and ingilt where necessary, and toned the finishes to keep with the rest of the collection and appear historically accurate.
During Phase 2, conservators came to the Fox for several two weeks to address specific items throughout the building. Included in their repairs were various finishes in the theatre, dressing tables and four Regency Style armchairs in the Mezzanine Ladies Lounge, and an upholstered window bench from the Mezzanine Men’s Lounge.
Phase 3 Project pieces included the three-seat settee in the Lower Ladies Lounge, six settees from the Mezzanine and Dress Circle Areas, and a Dantesca “Poltrone” chair from the Mezzanine Lobby. These were conserved by skilled artisans in an off-site studio.
There was also on-site conservation of built-in sofas, a cabinet, a barrel armchair, and a sofa from the Mezzanine Men’s Lounge. One of the King Tut chairs from the Mezzanine Ladies Lounge was revisited to receive additional upholstery work.
Phase 4 addressed the conservation of two wood frames, upholstered, built-in Love Seats from the Lower Ladies Lounge. These sofas were unstable and in need of structural and finish repairs. The arm veneer was badly damaged and both arms were removed and shipped for conservation. The delaminating (non-original) veneer was also removed and replaced.
On-site, conservation of the sofa’s surfaces were cleaned and decorative painting was in-painted. Additionally, new molding was fabricated by Gentle, Jeffries, and Jolen Bain, and installed to match molding visible in historic photographs at the top of the sofa. The newly restored arms were then re-installed.
This phase will include the studio conservation of a console table from the Lower Men’s Lounge, four armchairs from the Lower Ladies Lounge, a console table from the Mezzanine Lobby, and four tall-backed arm chairs from the Lower Ladies Lounge. Gentle and Jeffries will focus on the dressing tables in the Lower Ladies Lounge, primarily addressing finish problems.
The Fox Theatre is a member of the League of Historic American Theatres.