ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

From: Atlanta Chapter, September 2005

A major group effort by members and friends of the Atlanta Chapter, ATOS has enabled us to save an endangered theatre organ.

Wurlitzer Opus 1184, a Style EX was removed from its original home in the Imperial Theatre in Augusta, GA some number of years ago when the theatre was deteriorating.

It was acquired by Atlanta Chapter member Gordy Johnson and installed in his home in east Cobb County (Marietta), Georgia, with additional ranks added. Some of you will remember this organ from your visits to Atlanta. When Mr. Johnson retired, he and his wife moved to Florida and sold their home to a couple from out-of-state. After a period of time, this couple no longer associated with the theatre organ world and the organ became a memory.

Recently, we discovered that the home was in possession of Household Finance Corporation. I was able to contact the agent with ReMax Real Estate and Southern REO who was handling the property. Upon informing him who I am, he exclaimed, "That is the most amazing home I've ever been in. I've sold 3000 homes and I've never seen anything like that." The Atlanta Chapter offered to remove the organ, transport it, and store it free of charge to the finance company in order to preserve the historic instrument. The alternative of course was for them to dismantle the organ and put it into a big green dumpster outside the house during the rehab of the home.

The Household Finance Corporation and ReMax agreed to our request and, with the Rylander Theatre Organ weekend approaching, notified us on Monday, August 22, that the home would be available to us for a short few days starting the following Friday afternoon (August 26). Three dozen of our members, including several who are experienced in dissasembling and moving theatre organs, were already committed that weekend as performers. I was scheduled for several social events promoting the theatre and organ in Americus, GA. I put out an "all hands on deck" call, and a number of people responded. Randy Hendry agreed to act as project manager, and assembled a team of people.

In two days, the team disconnected and dismantled the organ. Starting Monday morning, Kevin and I began to load the organ into the truck. We were joined by several others, including Rick McGee (J R McGee), and last night we unloaded it into the garage of a chapter member, with the help of Ron Carter and others.

So, while a good portion of our chapter hosted a major community theatre organ event in a theatre three hours south of Atlanta, another group disconnected a theater pipe organ, and then we all came together when we returned and packed it, moved it, and unloaded it.

The $64,000 question: what are we going to do with it? Well, we are in discussions with the now restored Imperial Theatre to return it to its original home. We'll keep you informed.

Incidentally, our chapter now owns the 15-rank Robert Morton organ from Atlanta's Capitol Theatre, along with a 4-manual console for it, the 3/11 Wurlitzer from the Lucas Theatre in Savannah, and this 2/11 Wurlitzer from the Imperial Theatre in Augusta. I've been thinking of changing our name to the American Theatre Organ Storage Society...

Our thanks go to Household Finance, ReMax Real Estate, and Southern REO for having the vision to cut through the corporate red tape to make this rescue a possibility. On the other hand, can you see these rehab guys trying to figure out what to do with a 7.5 horsepower 3-phase blower.

This effort involved a total of 25 people over a five-day period, so it was definitely teamwork by a lot of people, particularly Randy Hendry, Danny Brooke, Bob Haag, and Kevin Cartwright. I thought you'd like to hear some good news. Larry Davis, President Atlanta Chapter, ATOS

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