2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ
The 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer Style 140B Theatre Pipe Organ Opus 1968, installed at Pinellas Park Auditorium in Pinellas Park, Florida is featured on the October 2005 Featured Organ of the Month page. It is the first small instrument to get a feature at Walnut Hill, and rightly so because it is not far from Tom Hoehn's residence, the first location for the Walnut Hill Productions Office of Operations during our year-long stay in Clearwater.
This organ is in the process of being restored and we need your help. If you would like to contribute funds or volunteer man hours to see this task come to completion, call the Walnut Hill Office of Operations at 1-727-230-2610 Monday through Friday from 10AM to 6PM EDT. We would be very glad to talk with you and tell you how to get involved in returning this great instrument to her former glory.
A Bit Of History...
This little organ, dubbed "Miss Penny" by those who love and care for her, was built in 1928 and delivered to the Casino Theatre in Scully Square, Boston Massichusetts on October 13th of the same year. The Style 140B originally had four ranks: Vox Humana, Salicional, Flute and Trumpet.
Around 1960, it was removed from the theatre and installed in a residence in Boston. The owner moved to Florida a few years later, taking the organ along and installing it again in a new residence in Orlando.
Years later, the organ again found a new home in Seminole, Florida. In 1982, the instrument was donated to the First Baptist Church in Pinellas Park, Florida.The church was unable to finance the upkeep of the organ and traded it for an Allen Electronic Organ.
A church music director named Tim Davis purchased the instrument from the Allen dealer with the intent to install it in his home to use as a practice organ. His schedule did not allow this, so he sold it to Bill Shrive and Virginia Lawrence, members of the Central Florida Theatre Organ Society. Bill and Ginny donated the organ to the chapter with the understanding that it would be installed in a public building.
After lengthly negotiations with the City of Pinellas Park in 1990, the organ was to be installed in the Pinellas Park Auditorium.The work began in 1992 and in March of 1995, the little WurliTzer was played for the first time in the auditorium.
Miss Penny Today
Today, the Pinellas Park 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer has been expanded to nine ranks with the addition of a Tibia, Kinura, String Celeste, Diapason, and Clarinet. Also, traps have been added that include a Xylophone, Glockenspiel and Chimes. Drums and other percussions are to be added soon.
The installation would not have been possible were it not for the many donated man hours and the generous financual support of the many dedicated members of the Central Florida Theatre Organ Society, a non-profit organization and proud chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. The chapter obtains funding from donations and membership dues.
Free Concert Series
Miss Penny gets played on the third Thursday of each month during a free concert for the public to enjoy. The purpose is to educate and entertain, fostering public awareness of the mighty Theatre Pipe Organ.
One of the frequent performers at the 2/9 Mighty WurliTzer is George Loesinger of Seminole, Florida. George augments the sound of the Mighty WuliTzer with a Yamaha keyboard he owns for a truly rich experience that is not to be missed.
A Closer Look At Miss Penny
We got the opportunity to take many photographs of this wonderful instrument during a recent CFTOS sponsered concert. During the shoot, we got up close and personal with the console and the chamber.
In the photographs above, we can see the stop sweep showing the left and right bolsters of the horseshoe. Some stops are not installed yet and others are not completely wired, but 95 per cent of the instrument is up and running. There is still room in the bolster for more stops, and these will control the tuned percussions.
A walk around to the rear of the console reveals the hand wired stop and note interface circuitry. The original wiring was replaced by Bill Shrive with the new wire you see here.
Here, we are standing at the chamber door, looking down the length of the single chamber with the nine ranks of pipes. There are pipes along all four walls of the chamber.
Here, we can see the two boards housing the Peterson Relay Control System. Bill Shrive rewired the entire relay by hand, making thousands of new connections and adding circuits for the five new ranks and the soon to be added tuned percussions.