Theatre Organ History - Preservation

Theatre Organ History - Preservation

Many organs were rescued from closed or demolished theatres and later installed in restaurants and private homes. In some cases, good sense prevailed and a few of the great theatres and their original organs were spared

Ayars - Macys Wurlitzer
The former Lowell Ayars Wurlitzer received a museum-quality restoration and now resides in Greek Hall at Macy's Center City (formerly Wanamaker's Department Store) in Philadephia, PA

As we survey the damage of the past, we see that although many important instruments were lost, many others now remain under the care of knowledgeable people. There are many communities that have one or more theatre pipe organs in use, and a new generation of young performers continues to be attracted to the instrument.

The American Theatre Organ Society, with dozens of local chapters and thousands of members worldwide, remains dedicated to the preservation of these wonderful old instruments. Theatre organ organizations are also active both in Britain and Australia.

Not content to be merely historians, members of the ATOS and other preservation groups want theatre organs to be played and heard -- now and in future years. Regional and national conventions bring hundreds of enthusiasts together to hear theatre organs, wherever they may be located. In an effort to introduce young people to the theatre pipe organ, the ATOS sponsors both a Young Theatre Organ Enthusiasts group and an annual Young Artists' Competition. The good news is that some of these young artists, now some four generations removed from the original heyday of the theatre organ, are as talented as their graying mentors.

Some of today's organ technicians know these glorious instruments better than anyone since their original installers, and they maintain many of these large instruments in immaculate condition. Thanks to countless dedicated volunteers, the future of the theatre pipe organ is surely secure.