Wayne Sheldon Welcomed me back under the "Nigerian Money thread, and rather than drift that way off topic, thought I'd start this new thread.
Years ago I proposed returning the Wurlitzer Theatre Organ back to the local Historic Theatre. The original organ exists, but is built into a home. Also, the original organ is smaller that what would be put in a theatre of this size--Talkies were about to become common, so they cut the organ budget. Well, some years ago an appropriate organ came available and we worked out an agreement with the City, who owns, and at the time, ran, the theatre.
Well, change in administration, and the new one kept putting up roadblocks (easy to do when they control the permit process!). Then the City gave up managing the theatre and turned that over the STAGE, a non-profit group that supported the theatre. So, short version of a long story; Last year the group started preparing the theatre for the organ, and now (since mid-July) have been going full-tilt repairing the original organ chamber and starting to repair the organ parts.
So, no time for T stuff, or finishing the house. We had a deadline to have the organ playing for the theatre's 90th Birthday Party on April 7, 2018. Now that the theatre's performance season is starting, the construction part is on hold, giving me-finally--a LITTLE time of my own.
The original console, much smaller!
the stage from balcony with movie screen in place
Behind this wall is the organ chamber, the grill work is covered over where you see a slight shadow in the wall. This will be uncovered in January.
Organ Chamber before; all that vertical lumber is all that's left of an air duct run right through the middle of it after the organ was taken out. Removing this caused us lots of problems!
First, although it's lasted 89 years, and survived a major earthquake, the contractor determined the beam across the organ shutter opening wasn't "to code" and required a new one; this one piece of wood was $1,200! Lumber prices have really gone up
And here it is in place, and you are seeing the back side of the grill, also being rebuilt. The odd pieces in between the vertical segments are cast plaster details, more on them later:
And the new ceiling going in:
Quite a change, eh? I mentioned the cast plaster detail pieces: here's a salvaged one being used to create a mold to cast 5 more that are missing. There are 4 different ones we have to make, but this one for some reason is missing more than the others
More to come, have to prep the pics.
Nice to know dd you still playing wigh you organ
Nice! That first (larger) console looks a bit like the one that was in the Avenue Theater in San Francisco for many years. Maybe it is still there? Not that I would know one from another. But it was white, had three levels of keyboard and looked kind of like that. I sure loved to listen to the organ with a good silent movie. The Avenue used to have classic films (usually at least one silent) almost every Friday night. It was a push with work schedules, but friends and I used to go often.
I look forward to more photos and details of the work you have been busy with.
Thank you for sharing this.
Gee, thanks Bob--I think. . . .
So here's some more pics.
One thing we did early in July was to pick up some large base pipes that didn't come with the organ (it was in a smaller space where these would have been overwhelming. Here they are on the stage with the STAGE president inspecting them:
And here's the restoration shop, a former pet shop a few doors down from the theatre; made available at a very low cost, first the window sign;
Volunteers learning to rebuild an organ!
Views of the shop;
And gluing a delaminated mounting flange back together
That's all for now; only about 1,200 pipes to prepare and 7 percussion instruments to go (not counting the bass drum you see in the pics--ys, bass drum, snare drum, tom-tom, cymbals, etc.)!
HOLY COW David!
I had the impression you DABBLED with organs.
I actually bought the M. P. Moller pipe organ from the church in which I was baptized.
Two church buildings were decommissioned when the congregations merged.
Next month I will have been organist for 50 years in my ELCA parish (yeah.......I started young at age 15) and October also marks 35 years serving at the local Catholic church.
I'm more proud of the latter than the former....... LOL
I hope you will find time to update this thread!
Wow! that is beautiful.
Nice to hear from you.
To meet the deadline you have to prepare six pipes per day, if you don't take any days off.
David Dewey, thanks! I love old theatres and old theatre organs. Although this is a T forum I, for one, would love to know progress.
Steve, you would mention that!! Actually, by April 7, we hope to have 9 ranks (of 17) working. Considering the original organ was 7 ranks, that should work to accompany a silent movie. By next summer we will finish the echo chamber (that chamber was never finished when the budget was cut in 1927)and by September have ALL of the organ playing.
I will attempt to update as stuff happens.
Isn't this a great forum, or what???
David, I disappear for five days to play with stationary steam engines, deal with other volunteer help and all kinds of good things happen here on the forum!
Man oh man, you're a busy guy but it's time has been coming. Thank you for this!
Here's the latest update: I've gotten one good casting out of the mold, 4 more to go! I hope it will hold together (the mold and the new part!).
That's all--too busy gluing wood for anything else! We'll have an open house this Saturday, so preparing for that too.