Fox Theatre's live-in "Phantom", Joe Patten
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Two years ago this week the Phantom of the Fox, Joe Patten was front page news, on facebook, on television, on protests .
The elderly resident became part of a citywide debate about age and living alone. Is Mr. Patten too old to be by himself? And what about the Fox Theatre? Don't they owe to him to keep their end of the bargain by allowing him to remain?
Mr. Patten is the only resident of the beloved Fox Theatre. An institution he helped save from the 1970's wrecking ball.
Management of the Fox wanted him gone.
But at 85, he's still the man, hanging tough.
Since 1979, Joe Patten has lived in this glorious 36-hundred square foot private residence.
It's like one of those Saddam Palaces in Iraq before the war.
Marvelous tapestry's, 19th century appointments, a player piano with Gershwin rolls. There is even a 140 year old safe in the kitchen rescued from Peachtree Street.
Hullinger: "How many pounds do you think it is? How many Pounds? maybe 2-thousand?
Patten: "It's 1,852 pounds."
Joe's attention to detail remains tight and why not?
For 30 years, Joe served as technical director for the Fox Theatre. He was granted a lifetime rent free lease in the 1970's.
Hullinger: "So the last two years for you have been pretty good?"
Patten: "Oh yes."
Hullinger: Once you got all those issues with management and your own attorney- - life is good?"
Patten: "that's correct."
Those issues began August 30th, 2010, a dispute between Patten and the non-profit Atlanta Landmarks which runs the theater. Mr. Patten called reporters that he was being evicted from his apartment by the group which he helped to found. Now, no hard feelings, just a memory.
Patten: " I'm looking forward to activity here which I've had from the 1970's .
Atlanta Landmarks operate the Fox, Joe Patten was a founder, they blinked and Patten was granted a sort of "stay". As in-- stay as long as you like. So here we are two yrs later and Joe is still "in the house." A house he doesn't leave.
Patten: "Well actually, I don't go too far out of the building.."
What becomes of the apartment after Mr. Patten? Maybe it becomes a place to entertain patrons, maybe entertainers stay there. The only thing that is sure, Joe Patten will be the last person to ever live fulltime in the Fox Theatre.