Showing 1 - 25 of 150 comments
Nice-looking theatre! What happened to the Wurlitzer orchestrion that was in the dance hall adjoining this theatre?
Thanks for the info on the Temple Theatre Wurlitzer B! I guess the fact that it was a divided installation would make this organ a “B X” although it is not (apparently?) listed as such in the records.
The Judd Walton / Peter Beames Wurlitzer Opus lists show Wurlitzer opus 506, a “B SP” (B Special) was shipped to the Temple Theatre in Los Angeles on December 30, 1921.
Mr. DeLay helpfully informs us that it was a divided installation, and perhaps the “X” suffix was not yet in use in Wurlitzer terminology for an optionally-divided installation as early as 1921.
However, this particular organ was not the only divided model B built by Wurlitzer.
Some of the early “B Special"s might also be divided organs (I’m not sure), and by 1924 or 1925 the "X” suffix, (signifying a two-chamber/divided installation of an organ that was normally installed in a single chamber) had come into use for the model B, with 9 Wurlitzer B X (and 3 B X Special) theatre pipe organs shipped from then until 1927.
According to the Judd Walton / Peter Beames Wurlitzer Opus list, The “Temple Theatre” in Alhambra, California had a two manual, four rank Wurlitzer model B theatre pipe organ (opus 487) shipped on November 22, 1921.
This was apparently the second model B that Wurlitzer built.
According to this opus list, the status of the organ is “XX” or unknown.
Does anybody know what happened to this organ (or its parts)?
It doesn’t appear to be mentioned at all in the above-quoted pre-demolition article, making me think that it had already been removed by that time.
Dear folks, the first Wurlitzer model B theatre organ to be shipped (2 manuals, 4 ranks, curved console) went to this theatre, the “Garrick Theatre” in Los Angeles, on October 22, 1921. This is Wurlitzer Opus 475.
I can see from the comments that the theatre was demolished in 1927 to make way for the still-standing Tower Theatre.
The Wurlitzer shipping records tell us that the B was repossessed by Wurlitzer, and then shipped on February 18, 1927, to the “8th & Broadway Corp.” of Los Angeles, CA.
What does that mean?
I would imagine that either the entire organ was crated and shipped back to the Wurlitzer factory in North Tonawanda, NY for refurbishing, and then shipped out again to Los Angeles (possible), or simply that the organ was removed from the soon-to-be-demolished theatre (probably by the local Wurlitzer dealer… maybe Glockner Music Co?) and stored, and then re-installed right near where the old theatre used to be?
This doesn’t make sense, since I thought that the Tower Theatre in LA had a Wurlitzer model 216 organ (2/10), opus 1620, shipped on April 23, 1927 to the Tower Theatre.
—–> Who were the “8th and Broadway Corp”?
What theatres did they own/run? <—–
Here’s a little Garrick Theatre organ timeline I’ve slapped together:
1915 (date unknown): the Garrick Theatre has a two-manual, eight-rank Robert-Morton theatre pipe organ (with a California Organ Co. nameplate) installed.
I do not know what became of this organ when the Wurlitzer was installed in 1921, perhaps it was taken in on trade by Wurlitzer and then re-sold somewhere else.
June, 1916: M. Jean de Chauvenet is the organist at the Garrick Theatre, and they also have a nine piece orchestra (possibly used in conjunction with the organ).
February 18, 1927: the Garrick Theatre’s style B is repossessed by Wurlitzer before this date, and is shipped on this date to the “8th and Broadway Corp” (whatever that means).
Week before March 6th, 1927: demolition of the Garrick Theatre building is started.
April 23rd, 1927: A new Wurlitzer model 216 (two-manual, ten-rank) theatre pipe organ, opus 1620, is shipped to the new “Tower Theatre” in Los Angeles, built on the Garrick Theatre site. Actually, I believe the Wurlitzer records show the 216 being shipped to the “Garrick” even thought it was in the process of demolition!
Perhaps the owners of the Garrick/Tower hadn’t yet decided upon the new theatre’s name at that point.
October 12th, 1927: the Tower Theatre opens.
1931 [exact date uncertain to me]: the Tower Theatre’s model 216 Wurlitzer organ is sold to the nearby Los Angeles Theatre.
circa 1972 [exact date unknown]: Wurlitzer style 216 theatre pipe organ, opus 1620, DISAPPEARS from the Los Angeles Theatre!
Many theatre organ people have heard tales of the “midnight organ supply” (the practice of organ enthusiasts, organbuilders, and organists stealing parts out of still-extant organs in theatres in the dead of night), but this story takes the cake!
What a vanishing act! The ENTIRE ORGAN disappeared!
(I mean the 216, not the B, although technically, the status of the B is “unknown” since it is not known where it went when then 8th and Broadway Co. got a hold of it).
Reportedly, the 216 still exists and is in somebody’s house somewhere (don’t know who, don’t know where). This rumor has also made its way around the theatre organ community, although no names have ever been mentioned, probably so that said organ-stealing party(/ies) can avoid the consequences.
Dear Mr. Loris, thank you for that information, it is must helpful!
Here is the listing for this organ and theatre on the NYC AGO (American Guild of Organists) website. The site also provides the organ’s specification (taken from literature, rather than the instrument itself). The site does not currently say whether or not the organ is still in the theatre: http://www.nycago.org/Organs/NYC/html/MajorTheatre.html
Dear Bway and CinemaTreasures readers, indeed this theatre had, or perhaps still has, a theatre pipe organ: Wurlitzer model B (2 manuals, 4 ranks) Opus 1786, was shipped to this theatre on November 17, 1927.
The online, searchable Wurlitzer Opus List compiled by Judd Walton and maintained by Peter Beames claims that the organ is still in the theatre, but the status is “NG” (not good), meaning that it may be missing parts, and/or water-damaged, and/or vandalized, and/or needs major restoration work to play again. (READ: probably not hopeless, but a lot of extra work for the restorer(s).)
However, no date or source is given for this information, so the organ might not still be there as of right now (Oct 2014). I’d love to be able to get in the theatre (with the owners' permission) and check it out if/when I’m in New York!
I’m not sure, but relatively few Wurlitzer B’s seem to be left in their original homes, although this WAS Wurlitzer’s most popular curved-console theatre pipe organ model (with 225 built).
Because of the tibia-centric (though great) styles of organ playing that developed with Jesse Crawford, George Wright, and others, a lot of theatre organ snobs (excuse me, enthusiasts) don’t like theatre organs that don’t have tibia clausa pipes; and the standard model B (of which this, apparently, was one?) did not come with a tibia.
However, Wurlitzer also was willing to customize their standard models, and quite a lot of the 225 B’s produced were actually “B Specials”, which could mean a variety of things.
“Special” (seen in the opus list together with a standard model number or letter) could refer to a customized model, or (seen in the opus list without any kind of standard model number of letter) a completely new custom organ specification that was non-standard).
In the case of the model B, “Special” often meant that the tibia was added as a fifth rank, making the organs 2/5s.
Again, the organ in the Major theatre is NOT listed as a “B SP” in the Opus List, but I think it could still be a nice sounding instrument, provided that the original installation was done in a satisfactory manner with good acoustics, and provided that the organists simply play in styles that don’t require the use of the tibia.
Does anybody have any recent photos inside this building?
Too bad to hear this theatre is all gone. I would have liked to have seen it.
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 628, the “Playhouse Th.” in Atascadero, California, had a two manual, three-rank Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1926.
No other information on the organ is given (such as blower info, nameplate, which would probably be Leathurby-Smith, etc).
However, there IS a photo of the organ’s console still in front of the stage at the theatre, complete with Glen Playman’s (1930s dance band) Orchestra on the stage. It is/was a very tiny console, since this three rank organ must have been one of the smallest that Smith ever built. I have no idea if it even had percussions but I would hope so.
I will try to scan and post the photo of the organ console in the theatre from the book, sometime in the next few weeks/months.
It is the only California Smith installation pictured in the book in a photograph, and one of only a handful of Smith organs/consoles pictured in that section of the book (most of the chapter is devoted to reprinting an exceedingly rare Smith theatre pipe organ catalog from the 1916-1920 period).
Does anybody know what happened to the Playhouse Theatre’s organ, and where it, or its parts, is/are today?
I am very glad to see this theatre still standing and I do hope it will open again before too long.
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Oaks Th.” in Berkeley, California had a two manual Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1925.
Further information on the organ, such as size (# of ranks), and blower information, is not given in the book.
Does anybody know what happened to this organ or it’s parts, and where it is/they are today? Thanks!
Also, if anyone has photos of the organ chamber(s) in the theatre, that would be great!!!
Would the current owners be amenable to allowing a visitor to come and take pictures of the organ chambers in the closed theatre, if they’re still present?
Was there an “Art Gallery Theatre” in Coronado, California?
According to pg. 628 of “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Art Gallery Th.” in Coronado, California, had a Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point. No further details are given, such as size (# of manuals, # of ranks), year of installation, blower info, or nameplate (Smith, Leathurby-Smith, etc.).
I notice the mention of a “$10,000 pipe organ” in the mention of the Silver Strand Theatre in the above-cited article in the October, 1917, issue of “The Santa Fe Magazine”.
Could this have been a Smith organ?
Are there any mentions of the make of the Silver Strand’s organ in any articles?
Mr. Spreckels is better-known amongst organ enthusiasts for bankrolling the large (currently about 74 ranks) outdoor band-shell Austin pipe organ (AKA the “Spreckels Organ”) currently still in its original location, giving free Sunday concerts (I think), featuring famous guest organists, in Balboa Park in San Diego.
It’s too bad what must have been a gorgeous art-glass interior of the Silver Strand was apparently gutted (and there’s no surviving photos of this???), but at least the building is still there!
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 628, the “Glendora (Mission) Th.” in Glendora, California had a two-manual, 7-rank Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1923. The organ’s Spencer blower serial # was 15129, and it was driven by a 2 horsepower motor, producing 10" of wind (measured in inches water column).
According to the book, this organ bore the “Smith” nameplate, here meaning it was during the brief period that Mr. Smith again had his own firm under his own name, after leaving the Seeburg-Smith partnership in Chicago, but before moving to Geneva, Illinois (Smith-Geneva), and still later moving to Alameda, California, and partnering with Leathurby to sell instruments on the west coast (Leathurby-Smith, apparently the final incarnation of the firm as an organ manufacturing entity).
Given that the information for this organ is so complete compared to most other Smith organs listed in this section of the book, I am inclined to believe that this organ still existed circa 1983-1989 when Mr. Junchen’s book was compiled, and that Mr. Junchen was able either to personally inspect it, or to get the information from the owner.
Does anybody know where this organ, or its parts, are today?
Glad to know the Hayward’s Wurlitzer organ still exists and is in use!
According to “The Encyclopdia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Hayward Theatre” in Hayward had a two-manual Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point.
The size of the organ (# of ranks), year of installation, and other info (blower info etc) are not given in the book.
I would imagine that the Wurlitzer model E probably replaced the Smith, as Wurlitzer, then as now, was usually considered the “end-all, beat-all” of theatre pipe organs (although I know several Robert-Morton and Barton enthusiasts who tell me that those respective makes were the “end-all, beat-all” of theatre pipe organs!!! They’re all great, it’s strictly in the ear and personal taste of the beholder).
Does anybody know what became of this Smith organ, or its parts? I would imagine that it was probably taken by Wurlitzer in trade for the new organ, IF the book is correct and this theatre did in fact have a Smith organ.
(1926 is pretty close to the advent of sound movies for the organ to have TWO theatre organs in quick succession, but I do know that Smith organs have not been well-liked by many).
Thanks a lot for any info!
Dear VBC, thank you for your wonderful comment! It is great to know this organ still exists! It is too bad to hear it was damaged in the earthquake, but I hope it can repaired and gotten up and running before too long.
I will be making a trip to Northern California in November 2014 and am hoping that perhaps I can pay the church a visit to look at the organ (functioning or not) for historical purposes (I will be visiting a Smith-Geneva organ in Roseville on the trip). I am putting together a little webpage on Smith, Seeburg-Smith, Smith-Geneva, and Leathurby-Smith pipe organs, and my research is for this webpage. If any of my research ends up being good enough/detailed enough, I hope to have it published in the ATOS “Theatre Organ” magazine, since I’m a member of ATOS.
Thanks a lot!
According to the “Encyclopdia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 628, the “Pasadena Th.” in Pasadena had a 3 manual Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point. No other details are given in the book, such as organ size (# of ranks), year of installation, or blower serial number, HP, etc.
Does anyone know any more about this organ or what happened to it?
It must have been on the larger side (probably between 10 and 15 ranks), given both the number of manuals (3, when the majority of Smith organs whose size were known were 2 manuals), and the size of this house.
UPDATE: I have found out what happened to the California Theatre’s original Smith theatre pipe organ. This information is courtesy of the excellent Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society (PSTOS) website. In my opinion, ALL chapters of the American Theatre Organ Society should have a website that is so detailed and well-laid-out! Anyway, here’s the page on the organ, with photos:
And, here’s the info from that page: “According to Jeff Fox, the organ was originally installed in the California Theatre, Pittsburgh California. The Robert Morton Company took the organ in on trade when they sold a new 3/10 Morton to the theatre. The organ sat in their [Robert-Morton’s] warehouse for several years until 1930-31 when it was sold to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Bellingham [Washington]. Seattle organ firm Balcom & Provorse did the install at the church and Ed Ahern of Bellingham was organist for the dedication program.
Jeff Fox purchased the organ in 1985. All of the original percussions except chimes were missing so Jeff has added a Wurlitzer toy counter and xylophone. He also added a blower that once supplied the Seattle Blue Mouse Theatre Wurlitzer. The organ’s original blower [Spencer blower #15874, according to Mr. Junchen’s book] still supplies air for the 2/12 E.M. Skinner organ now installed at the church."
“In 2003 the instrument was sold to Mark Steen of Spanaway, Washington. The Wurlitzer toy counter [not original to this organ] was purchased by Tom Blackwell of Seattle.”
I’m very glad to hear this organ (mostly) still exists, is in a good home and has been well-loved for most of its life. I hope it will continue to sing on into the future, whether in a home or in a theatre.
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, the “Egyptian Theatre” in Long Beach originally had a two manual Smith theatre pipe organ installed in 1924. No other details, such as # of ranks (size of the actual organ), or blower info is given.
Does anybody know what happened to this organ, or its parts? Thanks!
Update (after I’ve checked out the wonderful Los Angeles Movie Palaces webpage on the theatre on Google):
The above-cited entry in Mr. Junchen’s book, citing a 2/4 organ installed at this theatre MUST be incorrect, as to either the theatre name,
or size of the organ,
since there was apparently only ONE State Theatre in Long Beach (right?!?),
and it was 1,800 seats,
MUCH too large for a four rank organ!!!
If this entry is really true and really referring to this particular State Theatre (and not a smaller one elsewhere in Long Beach), the organ’s sound would have been lost somewhere between the front and back of the building, with only the front rows of seats hearing the organ (if it was installed near the screen), or only the back rows of seats hearing it (if it was installed near the projection booth, which was quite rare for theatre pipe organs, but not unheard of).
I love small theatre organs (3- through 7-rank), but believe that they sound their very best in a small, resonant house, not a large, cavernous one!
Perfect! Thanks a lot Mr. Joe Vogel!!!
If I ever find out more about the whereabouts of this organ (assuming it wasn’t destroyed/junked during the 1937 fire and 1938 remodel), I’ll let you know!
Didn’t this theatre use to be called the “California Theatre” back in 1923?
Due to the following listing, I was searching for a “California Theatre” in San Pedro on this site for ages without finding one.
THEN I tried Google, and presto, Mr. Counter’s San Pedro Theatres page came up listing THIS theatre also as the “California”.
Could one of you admin folks please add “California Theatre” to the “Previous Names:” list in the “Additional Info” sidebar, so future CinemaTreasures users can find it on this site via a simple search? Thanks a lot!
According to “the Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Pipe Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 629, the “California Theatre” in San Pedro had a Smith theatre pipe organ, installed in 1923. Its blower serial # was 14187. No other details, such as size (# of manuals / # of ranks), or blower HP or static pressure, are given in the book (not known to the author in 1989).
Does anybody have more details on this organ, and/or where it (or its parts) is/are today? Thanks!
Great architecture, glad this one is still standing!
This building looks AWESOME. Glad it is still open!
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David Junchen, pg. 628, the “Verdi (World) Th.” in San Francisco, California, had a Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point.
No other details, such as size (# of manuals/# of ranks), install date, or blower info, are given in the book.
Does anybody know any more about this organ, and where it (or its parts) is/are today? Thanks!
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ”, pg. 629, the “National Theatre” in Stockton, California, had a two-manual Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point.
No other details, such as size (# of ranks), year of installation, or blower info, is available in the book.
Does anybody know any more about this organ and what happened to it? Thanks!
According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ”, pg. 629, the “Santa Maria Th.” in Santa Maria, California, originally had a two manual, nine rank Leathurby-Smith theatre pipe organ, install date not known (at the time of publication in 1989), and blower info also unknown.
Does anybody know what happened to this organ? Thanks!
I’d also like to know what happened to the Robert-Morton model 49 organ that Mr. Jensen describes having been shipped to this theatre. There are still a few of this model existing today, but I don’t personally know their early histories or provenances.
There are also parts existing in various collections, to model 49s and 39s (a sister model) that have been parted out.
The 49 is a really fun theatre pipe organ model because it is “portable”! (Well, relatively speaking).
The organ typically has three ranks of pipes, tibia, string, and vox humana, and the three ranks are divided amongst two swellboxes, each measuring approximately four feet wide, a little over five feet high, and not quite five feet deep (according to a friend of mine who’s putting the finishing touches on the restoration of a model 49 for a private museum in Northern California).
Besides the pipes, the swellboxes also have a xylophone and a “toy counter” with bass drum / tympani, snare drum, cymbal, and various other goodies and sound effects. The pipes are operated by wind pressure, and the rest of the side cabinet features (percussions, swell shades) by suction, both supplied by a special blower.
Besides the two swellboxes, there are also the tibia bass pipes, going down to the 16' pitch (actual pipe length about 8' long since they are stopped pipes), which are on their own special windchest that goes outside of the swellboxes, due to space considerations. I think some collectors have laid this chest and pipes on its side to save space, but not sure if any were installed this way.
Also, of course, there is the console, which is a tiny two-manual and pedal horseshoe theatre organ console, with stoptabs for the stops and couplers, and “telegraph keys” like an American Fotoplayer for the sound effects.
All 49s, to my knowledge, had a dual roll player built into the console (the same kind found on Fotoplayers) for playing two 88 note piano rolls, so that one could be playing on the organ while the other was rapidly rewinding and being changed by the operator, to suit the changing moods and scenes of the picture being “played”.
The console and action of the instrument are electropneumatic, and in addition to the tiny relay built into the console itself, there is another relay for translating the pneumatic signals from the roll reader to electrical signals to actually play the organ.
These are neat machines, and theoretically, they can be moved from place to place without too much of a hassle, and without the need for organ chambers, since the entire instrument (swell cabinets, console, and all) can fit in the orchestra pit, just like a regular Fotoplayer. This is why user “Life’s Too Short” didn’t see any organ grilles when inside the building today… it quite possibly never had organ chambers (although I’ve never been to this particular theatre)… and wouldn’t have needed them for this model!
You can see a great Robert-Morton factory photo of a model 49 here (on the Wicks Organs Facebook page, since Wicks had a close working relationship with Robert-Morton for several years and built many small theatre organs for Morton, although I don’t think Wicks built any of the 39 or 49 organs):