Photo credit and copy courtesy of Jim Stettner.

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Tiny DavidZornig

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The remains of the Varsity Theatre

Varsity Theater

Evanston, IL

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Uploaded on: March 2, 2014

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Photo credit and copy courtesy of Jim Stettner.

Photo credit and copy courtesy of Jim Stettner.

Here’s an odd bit of Evanston history that I doubt many (if any) remember. In the days of silent movies, Evanston did have three theatres with pipe organs: The Hoyburn had a 1915 Kimball; the Park (later, Coronet) had a 1924 Barton; and the good ole Varsity had a large 1926 Geneva. It was the largest theatre organ Geneva ever built with 3-manuals (keyboards) and 26 ranks (sets) of pipes. But the really unique aspect of the Varsity Geneva organ is that the console was decorated to look like a brick house!!!

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Mark on November 14, 2014 at 2:51 pm

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!!”

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