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Unfortunately, it has been recently discovered that the organ has been lost forever to the garbage man! Theater organ preservationist, Terry Kleven had this to say on a recent conversation thread of the “Historic Chicago Theater Organs” FaceBook page. “I heard recently from Adrian Phillips that Karl Werner’s family tossed the entire organ into dumpsters in Arizona after Karl Passed away at age 97. Sadly…it’s all gone now….Gottfried Brass trumpet, saxophone, and post horn all went into the dumpsters. What a sad end to a wonderful instrument. I saw it all many times in Karl’s basement in Addison, Illinois many years ago before they moved to Arizona. It was all beautiful stuff!! What a loss!!”
Everybody keeps saying some guy by the name of Heinz tore down the Palace. That’s not the right name. The name you’re looking for is developer Ray Becker. I know this to be true because my dad was working for Becker Bros. Construction at the time. He even tried to convince Ray that tearing down the Palace was a crime. Ray lives at the top of one of the twin towers to this very day.
1921 View of Madison’s proscenium opening showing main curtain, side stages and cut-out style orchestra pit. All of this would be remodeled in 1927 with the opening expanded to the outer arch and a new, more conventional style orchestra pit pushed out into the auditorium necessitating the loss of first several rows of seats.
Is this the building that once housed Zellmer’s Dinner Theater productions in the 1990’s?
Here’s a link to a great, eight minute video on Conrad Schmitt Studios. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39zxhmQJxUU
Speaking on artisans who could properly restore the Madison to opening day (1921) condition: as of 2013 two firms with histories predating the golden age of movie palace’s still exsist today.
1. Conrad Schmitt of New Berlin, WI was founded in 1889 and has been an industry leader as first, a decorating company during the architectural boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century’s and second, as a leader in the restoration of many of those same properties decades later. Conrad Schmitt also has the most theater/auditorium retorations under their belt, numbering in the hundreds. Their history and portfolio can be found at conradschmitt.com.
2. Rambusch Studios, of New York, NY was founded in 1898 and has a long and venerable project/client list mirroring that of Conrad Schmitt. They can be found at rambusch.com.
Evergreene Architectural Arts also of New York, NY was founded in 1978 and quickly became a leader in the revitalizing of historic art and architecture. Evergreene is the first choice among several prominent historic preservationist architectural firms. They can be found at evergreene.com.
New facebook page dedicated to Peoria’s palaces:
(This is not an attack) According to Jim Rankin’s post in Sept. of 04, The Apollo Theater is the only other theater attributed to architect Frederick Klein but that would not be true. The Peoria’s Madison Theater, currently awaiting restoration, was also designed by Klein in 1921 and is an almost exact duplicate of the 1916 Circle Theater in Indianapolis, IN.