Opus #1634
History


RKO Proctor's Theatre - Interior, 1938

        Wurlitzer 3/13 opus #1634 was built in 1927 and installed in Keith's Theatre, later named RKO Proctor's Theatre, in New Rochelle, New York, where it was used to accompany silent movies and for intermissions and shows. After the invention of talking movies, the organs were no longer necessary during the movies, and were only occasionally used for special events. Many were eventually abandoned.
        In 1969 a chapter member read in Theatre Organ Magazine that RKO was making some of their organs available to local chapters, at no charge, if they could find appropriate homes for them. The chapter decided to try to obtain one and eventually found a suitable one in New Rockelle, New York. After a long search, an agreement was reached with the town of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, to house the organ at the Loranger School, on the stage in the McSweeney Auditorium.

Loading Tuba Pipes, 1969

        The actual work of removing the organ from the theatre began in June that year. The work was conducted on hot summer weekends in the cramped chambers and was especially difficult because the theatre was still in operation. Everything in the chambers was covered with a thick layer of dirt and with plaster from a fallen ceiling. The console was covered with many layers of spattered paint, and bushels of peanut shells and candy wrappers.

Loading the Console, 1969

        After transport to Maine, the console was restored in a member's barn, and the other parts in a storeroom at the school. The 2 chambers were built, and the blower was installed in an adjacent room. Many hours were spent re-installing the main cable, which had had to be cut to remove the console from the theatre. Everything was cleaned, new parts built to replace missing, and all pneumatics recovered. Finally, after several years of work, the organ was ready to continue its work, providing enjoyment to all.
        Today, the organ is in good playing condition, thanks to the continued work and support of the members. The pipes are housed in two chambers, on each side of the stage, on the second level. The console is on a wheeled platform, and can be moved around the stage as needed. It is kept in a locked storage enclosure when not in use. Great effort has been made over the years to keep the organ as original as possible, including the same cabling and Wurlitzer pneumatic relays. The organ is used at monthly Chapter meetings, and for occasional public concerts, and special assemblies for the students at the school.


RKO Proctor's Theatre - Exterior, 1938


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