We consider the task of designing sparse control laws for large-scale systems by directly minimizing an infinite horizon quadratic cost with an $\ell_1$ penalty on the feedback controller gains. Our focus is on an improved algorithm that allows us to scale to large systems (i.e. those where sparsity is most useful) with convergence times that are several orders of magnitude faster than existing algorithms. In particular, we develop an efficient proximal Newton method which minimizes per-iteration cost with a coordinate descent active set approach and fast numerical solutions to the Lyapunov equations. Experimentally we demonstrate the appeal of this approach on synthetic examples and real power networks significantly larger than those previously considered in the literature.