ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – To get the Fabulous Fox Theatre in tip top shape, you have to start at the top.
“The skin is just a canvas or muslin and the underneath just horse hair padding,” says restoration supervisor Edward Magee. “So it's like a sound pad.”
Today, the only sound inside the building was from crews restoring the auditorium to its 1929 splendor.
These tassels which look like terra cotta are really made of plaster.
“It's just painted and the glaze kind of goes in sculpturally defines the ornament itself and then antiques it, makes it look old,” says Magee. “So originally they wanted it to look old.”
Built in 1929, this is the most massive project at the fox since its original restoration in 1981.
But everything old will look new again thanks to an ammonia based cleaner and a little elbow grease.
“There's a fine line in between the dirt and the glaze, because they're both umber,” says Magee. “The glaze is like a raw umber and dirt is like a raw umber so they're similar. So you have to be aggressive enough to get the dirt off but not aggressive enough to take the layer of glaze off which is really thin.”
Today a caged elephant kept an eye on the cleanup.
These workers were doing something that will probably never be done again in our lifetime.
After all, it's not every day one touches the ceiling inside the fox.
“Have you made any interesting discoveries?” asks Patrick Clark.
“Yeah, I think the crystals being Czechoslovakian,” says Magee. “That was kind of interesting.”
It took two weeks to install the 15 truckloads of scaffolding for this conservation cleaning.
My tour guide Edward Magee was also on the crew that restored the Peabody opera house.
So he knows a little about scrubbing behind and in between those hard to reach places.
“Now that we've cleaned it a lot of the colors have brightened up.” says Magee. “I think they're going to see things that they've never really seen before.”
They might have to buy some more spotlights, to show off this spic and span 84 year old.