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Fox Theater offers tours daily at 10 am, but the Saturday tour includes a demo of the famous Wurlitzer organ.

The Fox in St. Louis was one of five Fox movie theaters. The others were in Atlanta, Detroit, Brooklyn, NY, and Oakland, CA. The St. Louis Fox is the best one surviving. It has been restored to full beauty. Altanta and Detroit still survive. Detroit also has a surviving Wurlitzer organ.

The St. Louis Fox was completed in 1929, designed as a silent movie house, but talkies were in by the time it was completed. Hence, it has always been an air conditioned, sound movie theater.

The theater is equipped with an orchestra pit, which was intended to provide sound effects for silent movies. It can descend to 15 ft below the stage keeping the orchestra out of site when accompanying programs on stage. The Wurlitzer organ was invented for use in movie theaters. It is less costly to operate than maintaining an orchestra. It can reproduce all the sounds of the orchestra plus numerous sound effects like boat whistles, drums, horns, etc. It is electromechanical with 3000 pipes controlled by electromagnets. The Wurlitzer still plays. We were treated to a 30 min demonstration. (The largest surviving organ in the US is the one in the Atlantic City NJ Convention Center, they say.)

The organ is maintained by an Organ society that does fund raising events to cover its expenses.

Many of us recall seeing St. Louisan Stan Kann at the Fox playing the organ between features. He is remembered with a display in their memorial area. The display includes a vacuum cleaner. He was well known for his vacuum cleaner collection which he brought on at least one Johnny Carson show.

The Fox fell on hard times in the 1970s and for a while was closed and subject to vandalism. It was restored in the early 1980s, and now runs a steady bill of plays. Seating capacity is abt 4400 depending on how the stage is arranged.

As part of the renovation, the stage was expanded to accommodate bigger shows. Shows are packaged deals which arrive with their own sets and costumes and their own rules on items like pictures, etc. Their contract sets the rules.

Ushers at the Fox are volunteers. To participate you must agree to work 60% of the events in a year given your choice of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday schedules.

The Fox Club is a new feature for those who enjoy the best. A table of four season tickets in the Fox Club goes for $32K.

All of the ornate decorations in the Fox including the huge columns are plaster over steel frames. The look is tensile town Hollywood with first rate decorations.

The dressing rooms are on six floors stage right. Connected by stairs. Stage left is accessed by a tunnel under the stage. Performers since the renovation sign the walls and leave murals. Finding your favorite performer can be a challenge.

Below also includes a smaller theater once used to preview films. It is now used as a meeting room or for events such as meet and greets with guests. It also is used to allow volunteer ushers to see the program when seats are sold out. And for weekly volunteer meetings to discuss requirements for each event. The preview theater is still equipped with traditional film projection equipment (now obsolete for modern theaters).

When in St. Louis, check out the Fox Theater Tour. Its information.
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