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S. Charles Lee, Deco master (that you've probably never heard of...)

So a long time ago, when movies were king, during the last depression, the main studios also built out and ran a lot of the theaters as well.

Fox theaters, in particular, really went for that "Movie Palace" thing. And their main in-house go-to guy for that was S. Charles Lee.

As a kid growing up in Chicago, Lee was heavily influenced by Sullivan and Wright. His first job as an Architect was in a small office of a family friend that did mostly theater design. Later on he moved out to California, and got hired by Fox to design their chain of theaters. Lee flew his own private plane, up and down the california coast, building theaters all over. Dream job, no?

Ever since sneaking into the old Fox theater in Oakland (when it was still abandoned, thank god they are fixing it up!) I've been really impressed and humbled by how great Lee's work is. Most folks don't know that a lot of these deco movie palaces were mostly done by a very small handful of designers. One of my favorite blogs, BibliObyssey, which posts scans from old library art books, just posted up a whole series of Lee's Art Deco craziness. Sketch after sketch of amazing designs for theaters. Really inspiring and enjoyable. Thanks BibliObyssey!

Jeffrey McGrew