Originally installed in a theatre in Coney Island, NY.
The J. Ross Reed Wurlitzer is a composite of select parts from other organs, and was originally assembled by organ builder Ken Crome, for his own use. Instead, in 1979, he sold it to a Lansing, Michigan pizza parlor, where it played for three years, until the establishment closed.
With financial gifts from Marian Cook and Robert Power, LATOS purchased the organ in 1984. It was brought back to Los Angeles and stored in a La Mirada warehouse owned by J. Ross Reed. Subsequently Ross agreed to have LATOS install the organ in the warehouse where it would be available for LATOS concerts and practice by organ students.
LATOS began installation of the organ in 1985 but, partially due to lack of funds, work was progressing slowly. In his enthusiasm to have it playing as soon as possible, Ross offered to buy the organ and finish the installation himself.
The inaugural warehouse concert was performed December 15, 1985. Unfortunately, Ross was able to play the Wurlitzer only a few times before suffering a fatal heart attack. After his death, in memory of Ross, the Reed family gave the organ back to LATOS, with the request that it be installed in Sexson Auditorium.
Under direction of organist Lyn Larsen, some changes were made to transform the organ from a 'pizza parlor' organ to a more polished concert instrument. Lack of space required substitution of a modern electronic relay system in place of the original mechanical relay. The organ was refurbished by Ken Crome, with the assistance of several LATOS volunteers, and was installed in Sexson Auditorium in October of 1989.
(taken from theatreorgans.com, for non-commercial use.)
David Junchen called it one of the finest three or four theatre organs extant, and one of the most famous organs in history. Its résumé includes two trips across the Atlantic, installations in three different countries, and recordings by some of the world’s greatest organists. Read more at: http://www.atos.org/FoortMoller
The Golden State Theatre was originally equipped with a 2 manual 8 rank Style F Wurlitzer when the theatre opened in 1926. This organ was one of the few smaller instruments to have been placed on a hydraulic lift to raise the console into the view of the audience.
Wurlitzer opus 1334 reigned supreme in the Golden State from 1926 until early 1954. Over the years, a serious roof leak caused the instrument to eventually be declared inoperative and it was sold. During the instrument's heyday in the Golden State, it was played on opening night, August 6, 1926, by Morte Mortensen, and later by Pauline Hellam (pictured), "Bud" Buttle, Danny Danzigger, Harold Wright, and Edward C. Hopkins. Pauline Hellam broadcast the organ over Monterey County pioneer radio station KDON. Prior to the Golden State's restoration in 2005, in a backstage box of junk, a toggle switch box was found that had an old style phone jack with a tag which reads: Remote: KDON Radio.
The original organ (pictured right) was sold to the Vallejo collector who never installed the organ. It was then sold to a couple in Napa who installed the organ at their home. This same couple moved to Oregon in the 1990s and took the Wurlitzer with them. In the late 1990s, the organ was sold to a couple in Anacortes,WA who never installed the instrument. The Monterey Golden State Wurlitzer was again on the move and was sold to a collector in Colorado who presently has the instrument up and playing.
In 1992, an agreement was reached between the owners for the Golden State and local theatre organ collector and Monterey native Tom DeLay. The installation of the organ in the Golden State Theatre began in June 1992. In December 1993, enough of the organ was playable to be broadcast live over Ed Dickinson's "Way Back Now" then broadcasting on KNRY Monterey. In September 1994, Monterey/Pacific Grove native, Tom Hazleton returned to his hometown to play the grand opening concert on the Golden State's "new" Mighty Wurlitzer.
The Golden State's "new" Mighty Wurlitzer was built in 1928 and shipped in May to the San Francisco Parkside Theatre. This organ was Wurlitzer opus 1887, a style 200 sp. This organ was virtually identical to the original Wurlitzer in the Golden State Theatre from 1926. The organ remained in the Parkside until May 1938 when the organ was sold to the United Presbyterian congregation in Salinas, CA for $3000. The organ was stripped of its percussions, second touch accents, and any other theatrical effects. In 1973, the organ saw some limited restoration back to its theatrical roots. In 1989, the organ was sold from the church when a new pipe organ was donated and installed. Mr. DeLay began a thorough restoration program on the organ that included the restoration of all percussions, second touch stops, and a removal of the 5 ranks of quiet church pipes that were added while the organ was in the church. These 5 ranks were replaced with 100% Wurlitzer pipes on original Wurlitzer wind-chests. Any and all changes/additions that were made to the organ at this time (1989) were all from long-previously-dismantled Wurlitzer instruments. Some of these parts came from the State Theatre in Brooklyn, NY, Shea's Hippodrome/Center Theatre Buffalo, NY, Metropolitan Theatre Los Angeles, California/State Theatre San Francisco, and the one-of-a-kind Wurlitzer from the 20th Century Fox mogul J. J. Murdock in Beverly Hills. The original Parkside Wurlitzer is still otherwise intact and plays on its original electro-pneumatic relays and console combination action.
The present Monterey Golden State Theatre Wurlitzer is patterned after the legendary South Pasadena Rialto Theatre Wurlitzer that the equally legendary organist George Wright played regularly during the 1960s.
information from Ortloff's Pipe Piper.
Each Sunday Ralston can be heard playing the Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ during the prelude prior to the 10:00 a.m. service, accompanying the Founder’s Cathedral Choir, and in concert at intervals throughout the year.
The Opus 1745, 3-manual 15-rank 1927 Wurlitzer Theater Organ is installed at Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, and is used for some of the services held there. The organ was first installed at the American Theater in Roanoke, Virginia, eventually relocated to Escondido in 1983, where some church ranks were added to the theater pipes for more versatility. Information based on RB Printing website.
added per Ortloff's Pipe Piper.
In 1929, the Fullerton High School District started construction of a 1300 seat auditorium, later to be called Plummer Auditorium. At the same time, a "concert" configured organ was provided by the Wurlitzer Pipe Organ Company in 1929, about the time that demand for theatre instruments was waning due both to the depression and to the introduction of sound motion picture films. Up to that time, silent films were accompanied by pit orchestras, pianos, photoplayers or theatre organs. Wurlitzer was left with a large inventory of theatre pipe ranks and chestwork, which were used in the construction of the Plummer organ.
In 1930, the same year that the auditorium was dedicated, the debut concert on the organ was accomplished by Dr. Alexander Schreiner, the famous organist of the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.The organ then had four 61-note keyboards, a 32-note pedalboard, 150 stopkeys, four swell pedals, one crescendo pedal, 28 ranks of pipes, a chrysoglott and a set of chimes. The pipes and percussion instruments were located in three chambers. Each pipe and instrument hammer was controlled by an individual magnet, so there was, as a result, a need for an elaborate switching system (called a "relay"). To our knowledge, the Plummer Organ had the only remaining example of a "remote capture action" built by Wurlitzer. The concept was that the organist could quickly and easily modify which stops were changed in response to pressing a piston while sitting at the organ. All other Wurlitzer organ combination actions could not "capture"; i.e., the selected stops had to be programmed by means of setting a series of small switches located inside the back of the console. This style is called a "setterboard" action. It is not known whether the Plummer remote capture action ever was fully operational. It was realized, however, that it was extremely rare, and so it was carefully disassembled and shipped to Barrington, Illinois, where it will be displayed in a music museum being constructed by Jasper Sanfilippo (owner of the largest theater pipe organ in the world). The original “concert” configuration and the limited number of stopkeys on the console made it difficult for the organist to play a broad range of literature. But it nevertheless basically was a very good quality instrument with some very nice theater ranks of pipes along with some ultra-soft "classic" ranks. Because of the limitations, the organ was rarely used and then played only for such events as commencements, an occasional concert, and organ classes offered by the high school and Fullerton College located across the street.
When Plummer Auditorium was used by the Fullerton Light Opera Association for stage presentations, live orchestras were employed rather than the pipe organ, which still is the arrangement to this day. Since the French-style console was located at the left end of the orchestra pit and featured French caps which extended above the stage level, they caused an unnamed member of the school board to bitterly complain that they obstructed her sight-line of the stage, so they were unceremoniously sawed off and replaced with 1/4" plywood and a new top. The original elaborate music rack was scrapped and replaced with a dinky electronic spinet organ rack. Even the scrollwork located beneath, and to the left and right of the manuals, was butchered.
Many people involved with Plummer Auditorium and the pipe organ believed that, despite the organ's limitations, it still had great potential to be made a musically significant instrument. It lacked many theater organ components and was a long way from being a classic (church) organ. Due to the antiquated state and deficiencies of Plummer Auditorium, the decision was reached to enhance the facilities, including the pipe organ. One of the enhancements included installing an orchestra lift in place of the orchestra pit. This meant that the organ console, as a stationary object, had to be removed and converted. This conversion now allows it to be moved from the stage or the orchestra lift and to be stored in a room behind the stage when not in use.
Under a grant of the Redevelopment Agency, the city of Fullerton undertook the project of the restoration of the auditorium Funds for the enhancement of the organ came from the High School Educational Foundation. Inasmuch as the Trousdale Organ Company bid only $42,000, some $200,000 less than any other bid, to work over the organ, the organ project went to the Trousdale Organ Company. It was evident that Bob Trousdale was undertaking the direction of the restoration project as a labor of love. Later, the Orange County Theatre Organ Society (OCTOS) was founded on the basis of volunteer effort to continue the restoration project when the original contract with the Trousdale Organ Company was completed.
A great deal of work still needed to be done in order to bring the organ up to a major concert instrument and to have it's significant place in the cultural community of Southern California. A final rank of pipes, the Musette, to serve as a musical blending rank, have finally completed, with great acclaim to say the least, all ranks to be installed, as of late September, 1999, in the organ! Also, an air conditioning system to keep the organ cool and in tune during the hot periods has finally been installed (as of September, 1999). A heating system to keep the organ warm during cold periods has existed in the organ all the while.
The author recommends that you attend a concert sometime, if only to confirm that this organ is a resounding success due to a great amount of effort by Bob Trousdale and his crew of some 25 volunteering individuals!