Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Buddy Nolan, the Last House Organist of the Embassy Theatre

During those few years preceding the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the very early depression years of the 1930's, the United States experienced the proliferation of those great, ridiculous, but wonderful Palaces offering Movies and Vaudeville. Fort Wayne, Indiana had at least one of those Idiotic Icons to which the poor masses could huddle to escape reality for 65 cents and revel in luxury for a couple of hours listening to an 18 piece orchestra in symphonic accord with a glittering 4-manual 15 rank Page Pipe Organ, one of three of that size ever built by that company. All musicians were majestically lifted into view by smoothly operating lifts-- to the delight of the patrons. The largest of Fort Wayne's Vaudeville-Movie houses was the Emboyd, opened in 1928 and renamed the Embassy in 1952.

Perhaps more quietly elegant than others of the 3,000 seat category, the Embassy was still loaded with excesses of French Marble on walls and trimming in the outer lobby, Italian Vaulted ceilings in the inner lobby, mirrors on landings halt way up the Grand Staircase, five foot sconces dripping with crystal spangles, Spanish Tiles on the risers of the staircase descending to the Moorish Pillars leading to the Vestibule of the Gentlemens' Lounge which had its traditional fireplace (why, I have never figured out), and intricate ornate plaster molds and figures in profusion throughout. The upper levels of the auditorium had as many seats as the first floor, and the huge chandeliers in front of each of the two side organ chambers lent an air of authority to the thunderous sounds which the organ was capable of producing. Heavy damask draped every arch, mirror, and exit The architects were noted John Eberson and Alvin Strauss.

In 1972, the threat of demolishing this gem to make room for a parking lot to serve a planned housing development for the elderly in the adjoining long-vacated Hotel Indiana was the catalyst for forming the Embassy Theater Foundation which ultimately purchased the Theater, originally costing over $1,000,000.00 for $250,000 including the adjoining 7 story Hotel, together with all of the equipment in both buildings AND the Page Pipe Organ, fully equipped projection booth, unpopped popcorn, bags, stage equipment etc. etc. The money was raised in a grass root effort, appealing to the average family and particularly those individuals whose nostalgic memories recalled "first dates" and occasions celebrated at the Emboyd. The business community also responded generously.

The Beautiful Page Console

Today, The Embassy's stage is being enlarged to accomodate the largest Broadway Shows, and the former small orchestra pit is being enlarged to seat 55 musicians. The house seating is reduced to 2,450 seats, but the new ones will be wider and more comfortable.

The Embassy Theatre, Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Cost of this project is in excess of $5,000,000.00 and will be completed by September 15, 1996. There is still money to be raised, but we are optimistic. Gifts, grants, volunteer labor, and in-kind donations since 1972 have been conservatively estimated at $12,000,000.00.

Events during the coming year will hopefully include for the first time a major Ballet production and an Opera in addition to the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra's Grand Series, a Theater Organ series of popular music programs, A Broadway Musical Series including Les Miserables. Movies, Travelogues, and Concerts presented by well known artists.

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