Mighty Wurlitzer, an era long forgotten or is it?
Black Beauty plays again.

During the early part of the silent film era, motion picture theatres throughout the country engaged pit orchestras and pianists to provide background music and effects for their stage shows and motions pictures. Because of the rising costs of musicians in orchestras, many theatres found it necessary to cut back, often to just a pianist for performances.About this time, an Englishman, Robert Hope-Jones, who was an electrical engineer by trade, developed a method of "electrifying" the pipe organ. This allowed the console of the organ to be placed at any position away from the pipes themselves. Hope-Jones envisioned an orchestral organ capable of all the sounds and percussions of the modern orchestra. This was quite unlike the customary voicing of the church organ. Upon arriving in the U.S., Hope-Jones convinced some investors to support his idea of the "Unit Orchestra." Later he joined with the Wurlitzer Company of North Tonawanda, New York, and the term the "Mighty Wurlitzer" became a household name.

Roaring 20's Pizza & Pipes - Ellenton, FL
This is the Wurlitzer that use to be in Indianapolis, IN at the Paramount Music Palace.

Sadly in 2010 Roaring 20's closed it doors. One can only hope that Black Beauty will play again.

During the late teens and early twenties, movie theaters both large and small installed theatre pipe organs. However with the appearance of the sound movies, the need for theatre organs diminished and most of them fell into disrepair through lack of use. Many were left silent in the orchestra pit never to sound again.
The theatre organ of the Paramount Theatre in Oakland California was only beginning an increasingly exciting and long life story. Installed in 1931 at a price of $20,000 this Mighty Wurlitzer enjoyed a brief period of glory before the theatre closed in 1932. By the late 1950's, the organ was sold and placed in storage. Around 1960 it was installed in its first restaurant venue, 'Ken Melody's Inn' in Los Altos, California, where it remained until purchased for the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis, Indiana. At this point, it was greatly enlarged and rebuilt by the Crome Organ Company. Upon the Indianapolis restaurant's closure in 1995, it was sold to a musical museum to be installed in Germany. When plans for this fell through, it was purchased for use in the Roaring 20s Pizza and Pipes in Ellenton, Florida.

In my youth from about the age of eight until the age of seventeen I spent most of my Wednesday and Friday evenings at the Paramount Music Palace in Indianapolis, IN. I would get there when the doors opened at 5pm and would stay until closing. Some would say that is a strange way to spend an evening. For me it was not hanging out with people who I became friends with but to sit back and enjoy the music that I have a great appreciation for. In 1995 when the Paramount Music Palace closed its doors I was heartbroken. I would never hear that mighty voice that came from within the Wurlitzer organ. I of course had purchased all the recordings of this fine musical instrument on LP. Yeah, LP those things also known as records, I still listen to them. I really need to get them transferred to CD. In 2007 I was doing some research and found out that the Wurlitzer is back and up and running again. The sad thing is in 2005 I lived down in St. Petersburg, Florida just a short drive away from the Roaring 20s Pizza and Pipes in Ellenton, Florida.The next time I am down in Florida I will be sure to make a visit before I come home.
The Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ holds a special place in my heart. I can hardly wait to hear its mighty voice once again.

Please visit the Roaring 20's website.

Other Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organs are:

-CLOSED- Organ Grinder Pizza - Portland, OR -CLOSED-

Organ Stop Pizza - Mesa, AZ
This organ is using parts from the now closed Organ Grinder Pizza Organ

-CLOSED- Pizza & Pipes - Washington state -CLOSED-

Also check out Organ Piper Pizza - Greenfileld, WI

Wurlitzer Theater Organs are a dying breed. If you ever have the chance to listen to one of these mighty instruments you should. You will not regret what you hear.