4/12 Marr & Colton Theatre Pipe Organ

Ohio Theatre
3114 Lagrange Street
Toledo, OH 43608
(map) (directions)

Marr & Colton Console

History

The Theatre Pipe Organ was originally built to replace the large orchestras needed to accompany the silent movies of the 1920 era.  When the "talkies" came about the Theatre Organ was no longer needed, therefore, many of them were destroyed along with the movie theatre where they were housed. The Rivoli and Palace Theaters were among those slated for demolition in 1968. (The Webstrand Building and Four Seagate now stands on the site of these two movie palaces.)

Both theatres had beautiful instruments that needed to be preserved.  Before demolition of the theatre the City of Toledo removed both organs and stored them in an unused fire station. In the 1970's a small group of organ enthusiasts, the Toledo Area Theatre Organ Society (TATOS), approached the City to find a home and reinstall them. Much to their dismay, the fire station roof had leaked and many of the pipes and wind chests could not be used. The group combined the two instruments to make one playable pipe organ. In 1977 the City of Toledo gave complete custody of the organ to TATOS provided it remained within the city. They still needed to find a place to install the instrument - after much searching the Ohio Theatre graciously accepted TATOS's proposal to install this great instrument in their theatre. The project was started in 1977 but wasn't completed until 1985.

The first of many concerts was performed on the Marr & Colton in September of 1985 with just four of the original 26 ranks of pipes playable. There are currently 12 ranks installed with 11 playing. The remaining ranks were either destroyed or damaged beyond repair before removal from the theaters or while in storage. TATOS is currently working on a third chamber to install more ranks of pipes on the right side of the theatre auditorium.

The State Theatre on Collingwood Blvd. also had a Marr & Colton Pipe Organ. It was restored in the 1960's by Rick Shindell. He and several others did concerts there until 1972 when the organ was sold and transported to Wisconsin and installed in a private home. In 1999 the owner could no longer keep it so he generously donated it to TATOS as he wanted it returned to Toledo. After an unfruitful search for an additional location for it, many of the components were installed in our existing organ at the Ohio Theatre.

Our Marr & Colton is the only remaining playable Theatre Pipe Organ in a public venue in Toledo.


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