About the Wurlitzer
at The Kentucky Theatre
We are restoring the Wurlitzer organ that was originally installed in The Kentucky Theatre in 1926. This theater organ is one of only a handful of American theater pipe organs that are still intact and in good enough condition to be restored. Removed during a theater renovation, it is being rebuilt and will be reinstalled where it can once again be heard and enjoyed.
This Wurlitzer has already received special historic recognition: on March 18, 2005, Governor Ernie Fletcher signed Senate Bill 148 designating The Kentucky Theatre Wurlitzer organ in Lexington as the Official Theatre Pipe Organ of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The restoration process includes rebuilding the wind chests that collect the air that blows through the pipes to make sounds; repairing any damaged pipes; getting the percussions, bells, etc. working again; and connecting everything together to work as a unit from the console where the organist sits. The Kentucky Theatre itself has been refurbished to highlight its 1920’s grand movie palace glory. When the Wurlitzer organ restoration project is complete we will work with the owners of The Kentucky Theatre to reinstall this magnificent pipe organ in its original home.
In addition to accompanying silent films, the Wurlitzer organ will be used for concerts, to teach students theater organ techniques, and to provide music prior to the beginning of movies playing at the theater.
Our volunteers are actively working to restore and reinstall this Wurlitzer theater organ. However, even working with volunteers, the cost is $260,000. That is $52,000 per year over the next 5 years. Please click here to learn how you can help. We also invite you to join our chapter. Your assistance is greatly appreciated, and we thank you!
As of July 2019 the restoration of the console is almost complete.
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The Console Before Restoration, #1
As installed in Oscar Wilson’s residence in the early ’80s. Photo by Garry Marsh.
The Console Before Restoration, #2
The console was on display at the Singletary Center until 2005.
By this time the accent color behind the gold ormolu (gilt brass decoration) had turned a bright yellow color.