Robert Morton 4/14 for sale

posted by Pbrandon on February 12, 2007 at 4:30 am

CASTRO VALLEY, CA — The Neighborhood Church which has owned and maintained a 1928 4/14 Robert Morton with many percussions and a 2M 2nd consoul since 1949 (no major rebuilds) is looking for a buyer of this fine piece of history. It was played untill a year ago. It came from the California Theater in Pittsburg, CA.

Buyers, please contact Patrick Brandon.

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Comments (12)

tomdelay on February 13, 2007 at 4:37 pm

The organ was originally a 3/10 when installed in the Cal. When the church bought the organ for their then downtown Oakland church, they added a small 4-rank Wurlitzer style 135 to the Morton. When the new mega church was built out by Highway 580, the church saw fit to add a 4th manual to the original 3/10 console. At this same time, the church also saw fit to install the organ in a concrete bunker and, via microphone, pick up the sound of the organ and amplify it to various depts. of the worship center. The organ was b'cast on radio by the late David Von Rotz.

The organ is very tired and needs a total restoration.

Patsy on February 14, 2007 at 5:34 am

If there is a chance that the California Theatre in Pittsburg CA is going to be restored, then perhaps they would be most interested in purchasing their original organ back for a more complete restoration. IMO, if this theatre had this organ it should have it once again.

Patsy on February 14, 2007 at 5:35 am

I love to see old theatres reunited with their original organs if at all possible.

Pbrandon on February 14, 2007 at 5:30 pm

the 4th manual was added in 1950 at the old church at 84th. as an echo organ. it was in the back of the 900 seat church in the celing. the sound is still talked about today. it came from the eastmont theater. the new building in 1967 the architect left the organ chambers out of the plans. by the time the omission was discovered by the organist it was to late to rebuild that part of the new building as it was set in concrete. with the best sound gear money could buy and little choice, the planners said that it would be better than ever. that plan totaly failed and is heart breaker to this day. the echo organ also then became part of the 2nd chamber in 69. the church was never happy about it in any way shape or form. yes it is very tired it has served well.

Patsy on February 15, 2007 at 4:24 am

rmorton: The organ saga at that church thats like a confusing ordeal, but the part that really threw me were the words…“concrete bunker” and that “in 1967 the architect had left the organ chambers out of the plans…..”.

Pbrandon on February 15, 2007 at 7:38 am

Yes the church hired the best theater architect they could find to design the new church. At that time not many theaters where putting in organs. And the organist was not a builder. But in the space age that was not going to stop anyone. So to fix the problem a brilliant solution was devised to locate the pipe rooms close to the auditorium but not in the room. And they would just mic them and replay the sound in the auditorium so at best it sounds like a recorded piece of music. The church is constructed with concrete so the large rooms have a thick concrete ceiling and walls they probably could survive a nuclear blast. (i.e. a bunker) but the up side for the organ is they have been in a constant temp not affected by the temp swings of the auditorium. We have just made the best of it.

Patsy on February 15, 2007 at 8:16 am

“We have just made the best of it”. That’s all you can ask, I guess.

playedit on March 12, 2008 at 2:12 pm

…having had lessons for years on this pipe organ in Oakland, with Dr. Von Rotz I am amazed at the stories! I helped modify and maintain several parts of this glorious organ with him. He knew the electronics and mechanics of the console and pipe chambers thoroughly. Dr. Von Rotz was in no way trivial, a brilliant and inventive organist, playing traditional church and popular music. I was saddened to learn of his passing and now to know this “Dave’s” organ is through. The Church has no idea what it is done. For whatever reason they give, it’s wrong. The new church location in CV was designed by Weldon Beckett, then with bragging rights to the new Kaiser building next to lake Merritt. It was a big deal for such a small congregation to achieve the clarity and vision to build a theatrical center/church. The initial plans were elaborate and included the organ. Dr. Dave and I were disappointed with the slashing of the ornamental grand plans, in favor of the very lean outcome. I left the church to attend college at the time of the move. I played it once after its installation. It was just to much trouble to have to go the control room to engage the sound system to play the instrument. The organ console wasn’t in the ceiling on 84th!

tomdelay on March 12, 2008 at 5:16 pm

The organ was sold to a third party and is supposedly going to go into a winery somewhere in CA. Hopefully the organ will not be changed into some huge, cancerous neo theatre organ.

w2bxc1 on August 19, 2008 at 8:12 am

Sorry to hear of it being removed I remember as a young Navy man working on it in 1969 when I was going to school in Vallejo California. I remember hooking up the forth manual in the new church and also hooking the 135 relay into the third manual at that time. At that time the flute had been rplaced with a tibia but was otherwise left alone. Also the right chamber has part on an Estey organ but I don’t think it ever got hooked up. The fact that it was electronicly transfered to the main auditorium was a reak bummer for sure I remember opening the chamber doors and at least getting an idea of what it sounded like. The Tibia was huge and the solo chamber I am sure is the real reason for my moderate hearing loss. I hope the new owners will restore it to the condition it was in before the additions as I felt they really didnt add to the sound at all.
Harold Russell

w2bxc1 on August 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm

One other comment I aggree with Tom DeLay that is shouldn’t be made into some huge instrument that will be a nightmear to maintain. On of the tings I remembered is that fact that someone thought it would be a great idea to replace the Kinaura with a Wurlitzer one which was much too small in scale. I did like the simplicity of the carlstead chests and they were quite fast.
Harold Russell

TomLafleur on November 30, 2018 at 3:54 pm

The 1928 Robert Morton console is scheduled to return to Pittsburg’s California Theatre next week (the first of December 2018). For 6 years, beginning January 15, 2019, Dave Moreno has led a volunteer crew sponsored by Pacific Community Services, Inc. that has rebuilt the chambers, chests, pipes and percussions and installed them into the theatre. In December of 1916 using the 2 manual Wurlitzer “Red Devil” console donated by Steve Restivo and electronics from Paul Brown with playback record function by Julie Porter, Dave Moreno played the Christmas program for Pittsburg Community Theatre.

An Orchestral Oboe has been added to the original 1928 10 Morton. The Robert Morton 3 manual console is receiving syndyne stops and is near completion. A lift has been installed under the thrust stage covering the orchestra pit to house the console. Cost of the restoration project to date has been $123,656 and we still have $498.92 left in the bank!

The organ has a beautiful sound and it is returned to the beautiful and historic theatre where it started out new. It will play in its original home for many years to come, thanks to those generous supporters and volunteers who have made the project possible.

Tom LaFleur
Pacific Community Services, Inc.

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