The Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. (Opus 1003, 1925)

Location:

MacDonald Theatre
1010 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR US
Organ ID: 57061

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Status and Condition:

  • This instrument's location type is: Theatres, Cinemas, Movie Houses
  • The organ has been relocated.
  • The organ's condition is unknown.
We received the most recent update for this instrument's status from Database Manager on May 13, 2018.

Technical Details:

  • Chests: Wurlitzer
  • 10 ranks. 742 pipes. 2 divisions. 3 manuals. 100 stops. 10 registers.
All:
  • Chest Type(s): Wurlitzer chests
  • Position: In side chambers at the front of the room. No visible pipes.
We received the most recent update for this division from Database Manager on May 13, 2018.
Main:
  • Manuals: 3
  • Divisions: 2
  • Stops: 100
  • Registers: 10
  • Position: Console in fixed position, center.
  • Key Action: Electrical connection from key to chest.
  • Stop Action: Electric connection between stop control and chest.
  • Console Style: Horseshoe style console.
  • Stop Controls: Stop keys in horseshoe curves.
  • Combination Action: Setterboard (remote or in console).
  • Swell Control Type: Balanced swell shoes/pedals.
  • Pedalboard Type: Concave radiating pedalboard.
  • Has Combination Action Thumb Pistons
  • Has Combination Action Toe Pistons
We received the most recent update for this console from Database Manager on May 13, 2018.
Database Manager on December 13, 2015:

Updated through online information from Eric Schmiedeberg.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.

Database Manager on November 11, 2015:

Updated through online information from Eric Schmiedeberg. -- It is quite possible that this Wurlitzer is the first one to be influenced by Portland organist Glenn Shelley. According to Theatre Organ Society Historian Steve Levin, Shelley favored the rare Wurlitzer Krumet as a voice to be included in all of the Wurlitzers he had anything to do with.

Only 73 sets were ever manufactured. Wurlitzer built over 2,200 theatre organs. By 1924, Shelley had a sufficiently respected position among organists in Portland--of whom some were (and are) recognized as having been the greatest to play the theatre organ--to carry this sort of gravitas with his colleagues; as well as theatre owners and the Wurlitzer Company.

The Krumet and--after 1925--the (also rare) English Post Horn were trademark voices of Shelley's specifications. Along with these, Marimba/Harps and Pianos would also be featured. The organ showing the favor that Shelley showed toward these percussions is illustrated best in the 3/8 sent to Bligh's Capitol Theatre in Salem, OR.

Here we see the Piano and Marimba/Harp added to an instrument smaller than what would normally have contained these. Six of the seven Shelley Specials (as I call them) were 3-manual instruments of 8 to 13 ranks. The organs of ten ranks or less did not contain couplers (a typical Wurlitzer practice) and usually had reduced tuned percussion compliments.

This last element was probably due to the desire of offsetting the added costs associated with "special" instruments. It should be pointed out that the Shelley instruments were sold to theatres built and run by independent operators. This is unlike the Fox West Coast chain arrangement featuring organist Frank Lanterman's English Post Horn-equipped, coupler-heavy Wurlitzer 2/10 Style 216's. Cost-cutting modifications are not as necessary to large corporations!

Steve Levin is not the only person to have acknowledged Shelley's role in specifying all of the 3-manual Wurlitzers (and one 2-manual) in Oregon/Southwest Washigton area. It is understood and acknowledged in the pstos.org website, and acknowledged by historically-minded fans of the theatre organ; especially in the Pacific Northwest. It has been stated in other publications that Oliver Wallace had an influence on the designs that Shelley would create. Considering Wallace's reputation and acknowledged friendship with him, this is no doubt true.

Wallace was a Grand Master and had played the huge 33-rank Wurlitzer demonstrator/show organ many times at the Liberty Theatre in Portland. Here Shelley had numerous opportunities--beginning at the tender age of 17--to hear Wallace use the resources of that instrument. I can personally quote Shelley directly that he highly favored and valued the Krumet rank of that instrument, but dared not use it when he played the farewell concert on the Liberty organ in 1959, because it was temperamental and out of tune!

Shelley usually used Wurlitzer's Style "H-3M" ("H-3 Manual") or Style 235 as the basis of most his designs. These automatically incorporated Marimba/Harps and Pianos in their make-ups. Shelley would swap out the Orcchestral Oboes for English Post Horns on 10" wind and Kinuras for Krumets after 1925. All of the Shelley Specials will be found in the OHS Database. All of them were decidedly unusual Wurlitzers. The "Shelley Specials":

  • Opus 1003--3/10--MacDonald Theatre--Eugene, OR--1925--Intact as of 2015
  • Opus 1126--3/10--Egyptian Theatre--Coos Bay. OR--1925--Also intact
  • Opus 1257--3/13--Elsinore Theatre--Salem, OR (perhaps with some input from opening night organist Percy Burraston of Australia)--1926--Broken up
  • Opus 1427--3/8--Bligh's Capitol Theatre--Salem, OR--1926--Intact, minus Krumet
  • Opus 1679--3/10--Castle Theatre--Vancouver, WA--1927--Intact Opus 1710--3/13--Oriental Theatre--Portland, OR--1927--Broken up
  • Opus 1897--2/10--Pelican Theatre--Klamath Falls, OR--1928--Intact with full-sized 3-manual console and a 16' English Post Horn octave added by Wurlitzer in 1937--Aragon Ballroom--Chicago

A possible "sister" to these is Opus 1580 sent to the Rialto Theatre in Bremerton, WA. This is a "stock" Style "F" with a Krumet instead of a Clarinet and is the only other Wurlitzer in the Pacific Northwest to contain the rank besides those above and the giant show/demonstrator Wurlitzers at the Liberty in Portland (4/33) and Coliseum Theatre (4/32) in Seattle. It should be noted that Krumets are not normally found on Wurlitzers of less than 26 ranks.

This illustrates the fact that they were usually specified in Specials where an organist realized the great utility of the rank and asked for them specifically as an addition or modification to a proposed installation. Wurlitzer factory records bear this out.

An interesting side note: According to Steve Levin, the Krumet rank had proven to be so popular in the Oregon/Washington area that the Robert Morton Company developed their own version of it for the "barn burner" 4/16 that they would install at the Music Hall Theatre in Seattle in 1927. One wonders if that might not have been to secure the sale in the face of Wurlitzer's dominance in the medium-to-large theatre instrument market of the Pacific Northwest!

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.

Database Manager on November 08, 2015:

Updated through online information from Eric Schmiedeberg.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.

Database Manager on November 08, 2015:

Updated through online information from Eric Schmiedeberg. -- I visited the MacDonald Theatre in 1995; a decade before it became the performing arts facility it is today. At that time, the organ-related areas of the theatre were still intact.

The load-in and load-out of this organ was remarkably easy as installations go. The ends of the two chambers were accessed through very large wooden doors with "ice box" type latch handles; the thresholds thereof being positioned in the stage wing walls and less than three feet above the stage floor.

The chambers were long, shallow triangles with hard plaster walls and large swell openings. Tonal egress would have been excellent. If the subsequent installations of this organ are any indication, then the MacDonald Wurlitzer must have been one of the better theatre organs in the state of Oregon, if not the West Coast.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.

Database Manager on November 01, 2015:

This entry describes an original installation of a new pipe organ. Identified by Eric Schmiedeberg, using information found in Wurlitzer List by Judd Walton.

We received the most recent update for this note from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.
Source not recorded: Open In New Tab Copied from a stoplist compiled by Cliel d' Autremont (aka Cleo DeAutry)
We received the most recent update for this stoplist from Database Manager on April 09, 2020.

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