Joe is known as the " Phantom of the Fox" he has resided for the past 31 years in an apartment above the city of Atalnta's historic Fox Theatre.
Joe Patten is the young age of 83, born in Lakeland in 1927. As a child Joe lived at the North West corner of South Florida Ave. and Lime Street ( where the Bank of America now stands ).
Joe's maternal grandfather Edwin C. Flanagan and his uncle, Edwin C. Flanagan,Jr. both served as Mayor's of Lakeland. Patten Heights Street that connects to South Florida Ave. and Lake Hollingsworth Dr. is named for his fathers family.
Patten's family attended the First Baptist Church, and at a young age, Joe became fascinated by the church pipe organ, he became friendly with the technician who serviced the pipe organ and learned the inner workings of the instrument. As Joe grew into his teens he began to service the organs of other churche's in the Lakeland area.
In 1963, Joe used his expertise when he spent 10 months leading the team that restored "Mighty Mo"
the Fox Theatre's Moller Pipe Organ.
( source: An official history on the theatre's website )
Joe Patten also spent a lot of his time as a youth at the Polk Theatre, where he also learned about the workings of their movie projectors.
Joe stated that he enlisted in the Navy after his junior year at Lakeland High School in 1944, as WWII was raging on. Joe Patten was stationed at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where he operated audio visual equipment. After 2 years in the Navy Patten recieved his high school diploma and went to work for Westinghouse Electric, installing & servicing medical x-ray equipment, he lived in many places before ending up in Atlanta in 1953.
In the 1980's Lakeland residents began restoring the Polk Theatre, a historic movie place suffering from decades of neglect, Joe Patten not only advised the Lakeland group, but later donated and installed two movie projectors that are stated as still being in use.
Patten stated he raced cars on Daytona's Beach in the early pre-Nascar years of the 1950's and has a lorge collection collection of antique vehicles, in which he usually drives his own cars to auto shows. Patten has displayed cars in the Lake Mirror Classic, three times since 2005.
Patten and the Fox Theatre
In the early 1970's, the Southern Bell Company made plans to buy the property in which the Historic Fox Theatre sat. The Fox Theatre opened its doors in 1929 boasting a 4,678 seat movie palace and concert hall, Patten joined a group of Atlanta's residence in a "Save The Fox" preservation campaign aimed at raising enough money to buy the theatre.
Patten became a Fox volunteer caretaker and in 1979, the Atlanta Landmark's game him a lifetime lease to occupy a living space inside the theatre. Patten spent $50,000. of his own money converting storage and office space into a 3 story apartment. Patten , the Fox technical director from 1974-2004 is credited with saving the Fox on a second occasion when he spoted a small fire and alerted the fire department.
Now in 2010 a conflict with the Fox Theatre has began after Joe had a small stroke in July this year, while he was in rehab, theatre exects began encouraging Joe to enter an assisted living facility instead of returnin to his home above the theatre, there is a clause in Joe's 1979 lease that states his lease can be revised by a 2/3 vote of the Fox board of directors, they voted him out, they desire his living space for expansion.
Patten is fighting this eviction which states he is to be out by this December., he is 83, never married and no children and now Fox wants him out.
2 sites have been opened for support of Joe Patten
story also found in the Lakeland Ledger
on Oct. 18,2010
just google Joe Patten
UPDATE on Joe
Joe has been granted his stay in the home he has known for several years.
reported by the Ledger.
story edited by: Peggy
As of the date of this original story on Joe Patten, he is being allowed to remain in his apartment above te Fox Theatre in Atlanta - This was in 2010 -
Now as of 2016 Joe Patten passed away at the age of 89 on April 7, 2016 in Atlanta, Ga.
Known as the Phantom of the Fox he will always be a part of Polk Co. and Atlanta, Ga. history