Joe Patten (Courtesy Fox Theatre)
Joe Patten (Courtesy Fox Theatre)

Joe Patten, the Fox Theatre’s former technical director who lived in an apartment inside the historic venue, has died at age 89.

Dubbed the “Phantom of the Fox,” Patten founded Atlanta Landmarks, which led the movement in the 1970s to stop the Fox from being demolished for what was then Southern Bell’s office tower.

According to the AJC, Patten retired from his job as technical director in 2004, but continued to live in the apartment rent-free as part of an agreement with Atlanta Landmarks back in 1979. When the Atlanta Landmarks trustees attempted to terminate the lease in 2010 it caused an outcry from Atlantans. A new lease was created that said Patten could live there as long as he was able or didn’t need assistance.

He was credited for saving the Fox from burning to the ground in 1996 after an early morning electrical fire caused $2 million in damage.

Patten suffered a stroke two weeks ago and his family decided to take him off life support, according to reports.

The Fox Theatre posted this message on Facebook:

The Fox Theatre team is deeply saddened by the passing of Joe Patten, and we offer our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time. As a dedicated caretaker for the theater for many decades, we thank him for his service and recognize the significant role he played in preserving this beloved landmark. Mr. Patten was a man of great character, and his legacy will endure as future generations experience the Fox Theatre for years to come.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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