Comments from tomdelay

Showing 176 - 200 of 271 comments

tomdelay commented about Regal Cinema on Oct 12, 2005 at 11:00 am

The 4/15 Christie organ was removed by the London and South of England Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society.

For more information on the present location and installation of this fine Christie organ, please see View link
or for the regular website of this chapter, please see

tomdelay commented about San Gabriel Mission Playhouse on Oct 8, 2005 at 6:59 pm

In reality, the Wurlitzer organ in the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium is a 3 manual now 17 rank instrument. This organ was never of 4 manuals and 21 ranks. The Brooklyn Albee organ was known as a style 260-special. The organ was originally 16 ranks—15-ranks in the two chambers at the front of the auditorium and a single rank Vox Humana “Echo Organ” at the back of the balcony. When the organ was dedicated in San Gabe in 1971 or ‘72, the “Echo Organ” concept had been done away with and the parts from the Echo organ were installed with the main body of the instrument at the front of the San Gabe Auditorium. I have climbed about the insides of this organ many times through the years and know it well.

Wurlitzer opus 870 was shipped to the Albee from North Tonawanda, NY on 5/8/24.

This Wurlitzer was not the first pipe organ for the SGVA. When the auditorium first opened, a 2 manual 21-rank Aeolian residence style organ was installed and remained in the auditorium until the Wurlitzer was brought in from NY. Late local LA area organist Paul Beaver bought the Aeolian pipe organ, but it was never installed by Mr. Beaver due to his death. I do not know what became of the Aeolian on Mr. Beaver’s death circa 1974.

Also, a name is missing from “lostmemory’s” list above; Bruce Skovmand did yeoman’s duty to get the organ lift installed and operating for the grand opening of the organ in either 1971 or 72.

Point of fact, the facade of the SGCA was designed to resemble the San Antonio Mission in rural southern Monterey County. This was one of the 21 Spanish Missions in California built in the late 1700s to early 1800s.

tomdelay commented about Santa Cruz Theatre on Oct 8, 2005 at 6:42 pm

This theatre initially contained a 2 manual 7 rank Wurlitzer style 185. The organ was destroyed by fire in 1925. This organ was replaced with a 3 manual 9 rank Robert Morton in 1925. Famed local silent film organist Alta Pearl Turner played both of these instruments as well as theatre organs in the Salinas and Watsonville area.

The Robert Morton organ was removed decades ago and is now in the hands of a private owner. The console from this organ is now installed at the Kautz Ironstone Winery in Murphys, CA. In the Alhambra Room of the winery, the New Santa Cruz Theatre Morton console controls the Robert Morton organ from the Alhambra Theatre in Sacramento. This organ was installed at the Kautz Winery in 1994.

tomdelay commented about Selma Theatre on Oct 8, 2005 at 6:16 pm

Thanks Ken.

I remember the Park Theatre quite well—and when it burned 20 years ago. So this means the T & D Selma was across the street, but in the same block.

I will take a swing through Selma next week. I will be working in Hanford most of the week and shall see if the structure is still standing Selma.

I suspect the Century Theatre was fairly short lived (this theatre’s Wurlitzer organ was sent to the Empire Theatre in Oakley, CA during the silent era.)

tomdelay commented about Temple Theatre on Oct 7, 2005 at 5:15 pm

I learned recently that the balance of the Temple Theatre Wurlitzer (chests, pipes, percussions) are owned by a theatre organ collector in the San Jose area. The console and relay remain in the Visalia, CA church I mentioned in the earlier posting above.

tomdelay commented about Fox Theatre on Oct 6, 2005 at 8:01 am

1,049 seats is good size for Paso Robles even today. The silent era Park Theatre certainly had an older Wurlitzer. I wonder if the proposed T & D in 1929, presumably built in 1930, replaced the Park?

T & D was found all around this area of Monterey (Strand), Salinas (T & D), Hanford (T & D), etc.

tomdelay commented about Soledad Theatre on Oct 6, 2005 at 7:12 am

I have not driven into Soledad in quite a while. I usually stick to the freeway. The quonset hut building/theatre could well be a swap meet/market now. Last time I drove into town, it was nothing more than some offices. I have never heard what the actual name of the quonset hut theatre building was.

The old Soledad Theatre was located on the much older block of buildings that faces the tracks and 101. A daughter of the original owner still lives in Salinas. She showed me a book that had a photo of the Soledad theatre in it. While the theatre is long gone, the building still stands, as i understand it.

BTW, further north in Monterey County, there were once two theatres in Castroville. One is now the Palace Market, the other used to stand on the north side of town where a union hall now squats. Anyh idea what the names of these theatres were?

tomdelay commented about Fox Theatre on Oct 6, 2005 at 6:57 am

Well, back to square-one on the ID and location of the Park.

tomdelay commented about Elmo Theatre on Oct 6, 2005 at 6:53 am


Now that is interesting. The 1928 “reconstruction” date ties in with when the larger organ would have been installed in the older Elmo as well as when the former Elmo Wurlitzer was rebuilt and moved to the new Obispo Theatre.

Many, many years ago, I was communicating via letter with a long time theatre and organ enthusiast, Bob Longfield, who had moved from Sacramento to Moro Bay to retire. He told me of a local theatre called the El Monterey, which I understood was in Moro Bay. I mentioned the Elmo in SLO and we both came up with the idea that perhaps Elmo was shortened from El Monterey. Regardless as to whether there was a theatre in Moro Bay named the El Monterey, it sounds like the Elmo SLO name WAS shortened from El Monterey. Good information.

Now if someone can tell us what happened to the Elmo and when? From what I have seen, buzzing about downtown SLO, the Fremont Theatre is the only historic theatre left downtown—and it was built well after either the Elmo or the Obispo.

tomdelay commented about Elmo Theatre on Oct 5, 2005 at 1:12 pm


Is there any indication as to the address of the Elmo?

tomdelay commented about Crest Theatre on Oct 5, 2005 at 1:11 pm

As the Hippodrome, this theatre contained a 2 manual 6 rank style D
Wurlitzer opus 1843. Another Wurlitzer went to a Sacramento Hippodrome Theatre contained a 2 manual 4 rank style 135 piano console Wurlitzer opus 289. This organ was shipped from North Tonawanda, NY on 2/28/20.

The larger style D organ was sold to Carlos Mendoza in Santa Clara.

tomdelay commented about Obispo Theatre on Oct 5, 2005 at 12:42 pm

Thanks Ken. That also answers a new entry I just sent in on the old SLO Elmo Theatre which will probably post tomorrow.

I see in an entry above that the SLO Elmo Theatre was described as “the Flea Bag”. This is funny! I have heard this description applied to the lesser theatres in Salinas, CA (Crystal Theatre), San Cruz, CA (Unique Theatre—the old one not the present theatre), and the Monterey Theatre in Monterey, CA.

When the name of Louis A. Maas shows up as having transplanted a theatre organ to another theatre in the 1920-30s, it is almost always a Fox/West Coast theatre organ situation:

Obispo Theatre SLO
Fox Theatre Hanford (Wurlitzer style B opus 860)
Fox Theatre Visalia (Robert Morton 2/5)
Arlington Theatre Santa Barbara (Wurlitzer style D)
Elmo Theatre SLO (?) (Wurlitzer opus 430 style 210 special)
Fox Theatre Phoenix (Wurlitzer style 210 from Theatre Visalia)
Fox Theatre Tucson (Wurlitzer style E from State Theatre in Oakland
Fox Wishire Los Angeles (Wurlitzer style 210 from California Theatre in Bakersfield)

And the list goes on!

tomdelay commented about Obispo Theatre on Oct 5, 2005 at 11:47 am

The Obispo Theatre had a small 2 manual 7 rank Wurlitzer/Maas organ that had been moved from the SLO Elmo Theatre (It is believed Elmo was shortened from El Monterey). When installed in the Elmo Theatre, this organ was a 2 manual 4 rank style 135 piano console Wurlitzer opus 260.

The organ was removed from the Elmo and rebuilt by Maas for the new Obispo theatre. The organ still exists and is installed in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia. The organ is in very poor condition. The Obispo organ was removed in the early 1950s by organ builder Richard S. Villemin and reinstalled in the Visalia church.
The original piano console is gone and was replaced by a 2 manual style B Wurlitzer console from the Temple Theatre in Los Angeles.

The Elmo/Obispo Wurlitzer had a large collection of rolls for the player in the piano console to accompany the silent films.

Som close friends of mine attended a film at the Obispo just before the fire. They said the theatre was a step back in time and in magnificent condition.

tomdelay commented about Soledad Theatre on Oct 5, 2005 at 11:22 am

Which theatre? The old Soledad Theatre or the later Quonset hut structure?

tomdelay commented about Frauenthal Center for the Perfoming Arts on Oct 4, 2005 at 8:31 pm

This theatre also contains a 3 manual Barton organ that was transplanted into the Frauenthal Center in the 1960s from the 1927 Regent Theatre.

tomdelay commented about Main Street Theatre on Oct 4, 2005 at 8:21 pm

For the record, the Visalia Fox Theatre website is:

tomdelay commented about Visalia Fox Theatre on Oct 4, 2005 at 8:09 pm

The Visalia Fox has a 4 manual 22 rank composite Wurlitzer donated by Ruth Villemin Dresser. Mrs. Dresser owned this organ for many years in her Malibu, CA home and donated this organ to the Fox a couple years ago. Mrs. Dresser also donated the 2 manual 10 rank composite style 216 Wurlitzer in the nearby Fox Theatre in Hanford, CA.

The 4 manual console in the Visalia Fox is from the 1918 Wurlitzer that was installed in the California Theatre in San Francisco.

tomdelay commented about Theatre Visalia on Oct 4, 2005 at 7:58 pm

Actually, the name of this theatre was Theatre Visalia not Visalia Theatre. The Visalia Theatre name was applied to a much newer theatre on East Main Street and was actually designed by S. Charles Lee. This theatre remains in operation with live theatre and is called the Main Street Theatre.

The Theatre Visalia closed in 1930 when the new Visalia Fox Theatre was opened. It was also immediately demolished and the site remains a parking lot.

The Theatre Visalia contained an ancient 1921 2 manual 9 rank style 210 Wurlitzer that was to have been installed in the new Fox Theatre. However, the new Fox was not yet ready for the organ and the organ was removed and added to by Louis A. Maas of Los Angeles (Maas Organ Company) and reinstalled as a jazzy 10-rank organ with an English Post Horn in the incredible Fox Theatre in Phoenix, AZ.

A small 5 rank Robert Morton was later rebuilt by Maas from a theatre in Santa Monica and installed as a 7 rank organ in the new Visalia Fox.

The rest of Ken Roe’s information above is spot-on.

tomdelay commented about Main Street Theatre on Oct 4, 2005 at 7:44 pm

I am not about to speak for Gary (who is on a trip to Egypt right now), but the Fox Theatre in Hanford AND the Fox Theatre in Visalia were both designed by Balch and Stanberry. Motion Picture World of 1930 had floor plans of both the Hanford and Visalia Fox Theatres and both were clearly designed by B & S. The Visalia Fox folks have a fine book out (presumably available from the Friends of the Fox website)and this book also clearly states the B & S firm as architects.

tomdelay commented about Capitol Theatre on Oct 4, 2005 at 1:48 pm

The Capitol Theatre’s original Wurlitzer pipe organ, still in-place, is a 2 manual 10 rank style H without a piano, opus 1689 shipped from North Tonawanda, NY to the theatre on 7/30/27. When the theatre was restored many years ago, a Trumpet was added to the organ’s specification giving the organ 11 ranks of pipes. The Wurlitzer shipment list shows the theatre as “Orpheum” in 1927.

tomdelay commented about Towne Cinema on Oct 4, 2005 at 7:13 am

The Barton Opera House and the State/Sequoia/Esquire/Towne Cinema were not the same building. The State/Sequoia et al was built on the site of the Barton Opera House. When the State/Sequoia was demolished in the early 1980s (I have demolition photos), the foundation of the Barton Opera House was actually found and removed with the rest of the newer, 1928 structure.

The Barton Opera House became known as the Hippodrome and showed silent films. A small 4-rank 2 manual piano console Wurlitzer (opus 315)was installed. This organ was transfered to the White Theatre on Broadway (near the Hotel Fresno) and was installed in the same manner it had been at the Barton/Hippodrome—in a stand-alone swellbox backstage. Hayes McClaran removed the organ prior to the demolition of the White. The instrument is now owned by a collector in the Bay Area.

The State/Sequoia style 210, 2-manual 9-rank Wurlitzer was installed when the new theatre opened in 1928. The organ remained in the theatre until the late 1940s or early 1950s. KMJ Radio 580 bought the organ to install in their studios (where the Fresno Metropolitan Museum resides now). KMJ staff organist, Jerry Higgenbotham wanted a better instrument than the studio Hammond. (Jerry was a superb organist!) The installation of the State/Sequoia organ never took place and was sold to Bay Area organ builder Bob Kates who installed it in his home studio. The organ remained here for a few years until Bob sold it to Carsten Henningsen for his Ye Olde Pizza Joynt in San Lorenzo, CA in the early 1960s. (See Gary Parks entry above.)

tomdelay commented about Fairfax Theatre on Oct 4, 2005 at 6:50 am

The Fairfax 2 manual 8 rank Wurlitzer was broken up for parts. The Fairfax Theatre is one of three very similar but not identical theatres: the late Parkside in San Francisco (Taraval and 19th), Golden State in Monterey, and the Fairfax. All three theatres had 2/8 Wurlitzers. The Parkside Wurlizter was an updated issue of their style F and was known as a style 200. With a roll player prep., the Parkside 200 was actually a styel 200-special.

The Parkside style 200sp is now installed in the Golden State Theatre in Monterey where I installed it in 1992.

tomdelay commented about Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland on Oct 4, 2005 at 6:43 am

The Robert Morton is now installed in the KC, MO Civic Center Music Hall, 13th and Wyandott. It is now a 4/27 Robert Morton.

It is understood this historic instrument is about to undergo massive changes to its original winding system to make the instrument
more “Wurlitzer-like”.

An original Robert Morton organ can be a fine instrument when installed to its company’s original standards and properly regulated.

tomdelay commented about Fox Criterion Theatre on Sep 29, 2005 at 2:56 pm

Ken Roe is correct. The Criterion/Kinema Robert Morton was built up to around 30-ranks and had a 5-manual console. The organ was broken up for parts. The organ had been played by a famed theatre organist named Eddie Horton.

Morton built (3) 5-manual organs: LA Criterion/Kinema, the Fresno Kinema (also built up from a smaller 2 manual organ, but was only around 12-ranks and 5 manuals), and the Palms Theatre in Pennsylvania—sorry I do not remember whether it was in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. I think the organ was in Pittsburgh. Photos of all three consoles are in Vol. II of “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen.

tomdelay commented about California Theatre on Sep 29, 2005 at 2:42 pm

The 1921 Fox-California Theatre in Salinas was also designed by the same architect A. W. Cornelius. However, the Salinas theatre was redone by Fox in 1934 and given an art deco treatment. The facade remained largely the same, a narrower version of the Cal in Pittsburg. The large vertical sign was added about 1927 and it remains, not working.

The original facade remained largely intact until a second remodel in 1948 when the present facade was built over the original. Photos for the local newspaper clearly show the statues being covered over along with the arched window and four Corinthian columns. The top of the Salinas facade was brick and was chipped away. However, the rest remains under the 1948 skin presently visible from Main Street.

The Fox-Cal in Salinas is for sale and the City of Salinas has no interest in the building.

The Pittsburg California Theatre opened with a 2 manual Smith organ of 10 or so ranks. This was replaced by a fabulous, jazzy 3 manual 10 rank Robert Morton in 1929. This organ presently resides in the Church of the Crossroads in Castro Valley. The organ is installed in a far less than desireable environment, but it remains largely intact. The church is located on the hill above Freeway 580 at the east end of Higway 238.