1144 Morro Street,
San Luis Obispo,
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Previous Names: Elks Theatre
At this point, little is known about the San Luis Obispo Elmo Theatre. The Elmo Theatre opened in 1921 with a small 2 manual 4 rank style 135 piano console player Wurlitzer organ opus 260.
In the the latter 1920’s, this original Elmo organ was removed from the theatre and rebuilt by Louis A. Maas and installed in the new Obispo Theatre with 7 ranks of pipes.
The older Elmo Theatre had a second, “new” Wurlitzer installed that had previously been installed in the DeLuxe Theatre in Los Angeles. This organ, opus 430, was shipped to the DeLuxe from North Tonawanda, NY on 6/28/21. This organ was a style 210 special and included a piano. It is assumed Louis Maas also did the transfer and reinstallation of this organ into the Elmo Theatre (as he had for the Obispo Theatre organ.) By 1927 the Elmo Theatre was operated by the L. Lou Bard chain Far West Theatres Inc.
In the 1950’s, this 2 manual 9 rank Wurlitzer organ was removed from the Elmo Theatre by Richard S. Villemin (who also removed the organ from the Obispo Theatre) and reinstalled the second Elmo organ in the Malibu home of his sister Ruth V. Dresser.
The Elmo/DeLuxe Theatre console, piano, and a portion of the relay are in the Fox Theatre in Hanford, California playing a composite Wurlitzer donated in 1988 by Ruth Dresser.
Ruth Dresser eventually donated the rest of the Elmo organ (with many, many additions plus a 4 manual console from the 1918 San Francisco California/State Theatre) to the Fox Theatre in Visalia, CA.
As I recall, the Elmo Theatre was part of a larger building that was owned by the B.P.O.E./Elks in SLO. It was also my understanding that the name “Elmo” was shortened from an earlier theatre name in San Luis Opisbo, the “El Monterey”.
Another assumption could be that both the Elmo and Obispo Theatres were associated with Fox/West Coast Theatres as Maas did many pipe organ reinstallations and rebuilds for Fox/West Coast. All of this organ/theatre information came directly from Richard S. Villemin.
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