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
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.