New Kimball Theatre Organ in Ashtabula, OH High School
Lakeside High School of the Ashtabula Area City School District is located in Ashtabula, Ohio and opened
in 2006. The campus consists of High School, Junior High School, Performing Arts Center and an Athletic
complex. With enrollment of 1100 students, Lakeside High is the largest high school in Ashtabula
County. With a three member administrative team and a dedicated staff of professional educators, the
bar continues to be raised to ensure a tradition of excellence for the students and alumni of Lakeside
High School. Realizing that “it takes a city “ to educate and support their students, our parents and
business partners are an integral and invaluable resource, and their presence permeates the halls as
they provide service and support for academic and extracurricular activities and events, Its 1000 seat
Performing Arts Center now houses a 3-manual Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ. Lakeside High School is
proud to be joining the many high schools across the United States that have pipe organs installed in
their auditoriums and theaters.
In the Spring of 2013, a meeting was held between the Ashtabula Area City Schools Board of Education
and the Lakeside Music Booster Organ Committee. The school system agreed to allow the committee to
make building modifications to the theater in the recently built high school performing arts center for
the organ chamber, organ console storage area, blower accommodations, and electrical and wind
conduits. Most of the rebuilding and installation cost of the organ was paid for by money raised by the
The Kimball 3/15 was built in 1921 by the W. W. Kimball Co. of Chicago and installed in the Lincoln-Dixie
Theatre in Chicago Heights, Illinois where it was used to accompany silent movies and for intermissions
and shows. After the invention of talking movies, the organs were no longer necessary during movies,
and were only occasionally used for special events. In 1970, the Lincoln-Dixie Theatre was not being
used and the organ was removed to the home of Gary Rickert in Oak Forest, Illinois. In anticipation of
his retirement and moving out of the area, he was looking for a good home for his Kimball Theatre
Organ. He heard that the Lakeside Music Boosters Organ Committee was looking for an organ for the
school’s music program. He decided to donate the organ to the school district.
The actual work of removing the organ from Mr. Rickert’s home began in July of 2013 and it arrived at
the high school a few weeks later. Work began immediately to build the chamber and blower room.
Many hours were spent on installing the new console wiring and control system. Everything was
cleaned, new parts built to replace missing, and all pneumatics recovered, all under the direction of Vic
Marsilio of Victor Organ LLC of Austintown, Ohio. Finally, after many months of work, the organ will be
ready to continue its work this coming February.
Lakeside High School has an excellent music program which will no doubt be enhanced through the use
of this instrument. An organ is a key part of any good symphony, which is why the Cleveland Orchestra
invested millions in restoring its pipe organ at Severance Hall recently. An organ is a fine backup for a
choral recital, and this organ was designed in part for that type of use. The techniques used learning to
play the organ are useful for any keyboard instrument and an organ can be incorporated into many
levels of music education. There are numerous ways this organ will enhance existing school programs.
The usefulness of this organ is not limited to the student body. As part of an outreach to local
community groups, numerous relationships will be explored with the Ashtabula Arts Center, The
Ashtabula Symphony and other community musical groups.
The organ committee and the school district will be scheduling several concerts this spring and are
planning for additional concerts and events using the organ the next school year. The first event is
scheduled for February 8, 2014 at 2:30 P.M. in the Lakeside Performing Arts Center with a concert by
Walt Strony, concert organist, silent film accompanist, recording artist and pipe organ consultant. Mr.
Strony’s theatre organ teacher was Al Melgard, who was staff organist for the Chicago Stadium. Mr.
Melgard was also the first organist for the new theatre organ installed in the Lincoln-Dixie Theatre in
1921, now located at Lakeside high School Performing Arts Center.
Our second concert will be on Friday April 11, 2014 with a student assembly for the high school students
and a community program on Saturday April 12, 2014 with Jelani Eddington performing. Mr. Eddington
has established himself as one of the most prominent and sought-after artists on the concert circuit. He
has received numerous awards including his selection as the 2001 Theate
(Above article from press release from the school.)