From: Merle Bobzien, April 2006

In (approximately) 1987, the organ was sold to myself by Loyola and was relocated to the social hall of St. Cross church in Hermosa Beach, California. It was installed under the stage, was playable and was used for theater organ performances (including at least two Halloween 'Phantom of the Opera' played by Gaylord Carter). My contract with the church was supposed to be for 10 years, but the church renig'd after five years, saying that they wanted the space for storage. I removed the organ and it went into storage in El Segundo, eventually being relocated to storage here in Big Bear Lake, California. The intention is to put the organ back into a playing condition, but it will be in a facility over which I have control (location yet to be determined). As I have assembled/disassembled/moved this organ more than twice, I have to desire to enhance my lifespan by endlessly moving the thing.

As far as the instrument itself goes (and this is the only accurate information):

The organ served in the Manchester Theater in South Central Los Angeles and was purchased by Bud Wittenberg in the 1950's from Fox West Coast Theaters. One of the principals for the sale (on the Fox side) was Rube Wolf, brother of Fanchon & Marco. Bud installed the organ in his Beverly Hills home and the installation was apparently pretty awful. Since the chamber was in the basement, he chopped some of the offset chests into pieces (stuffing in end plugs) to get them to fit. [All of this vandalism has been reversed by me.] The acoustic properties of the installation were like a box of Kleenex or worse. In addition, Bud swapped the Kinura for a Brand-X Post Horn, the bottom six pipes being 90 degree mitred. The console is NOT the original one (and I don't know what happened to it). The console (which was supposedly identical) is from the Lincoln Theater in Los Angeles. Bud also jacked up this scalloped-lid console and stuffed in a third manual on the top, having only four stops and some percussions. Bill Thompson recorded two albums in this location: "A Quiet Evening With The Mighty Wurlitzer" and an album of Rogers & Hammerstein tunes. There's lots of info about the organ in the liner notes for "Quiet Evening..."

In the 1970's, Bud sold the house and donated the organ to Loyola Marymount. It was first "installed" by Richard Martin and Jay Himes, neither of which knew their arse from their elbow when it came to building an organ. I became involved with the installation and they faded from the picture. I maintained the organ at Loyola for a number of years, almost completely reinstalling the organ, re-specifying the stop list (done by Ken Kukuk and Lyn Larsen), removing and selling the old mechanical switch stack (which I regret now) and installing the first commerical Trousdale electronic relay.

One of the first things done was to knock out that useless third manual and take out the 4" spacers that made the whole console look top-heavy. As Ken Kukuk said, we put it back "like God and Hope-Jones intended." When I installed the organ at St. Cross, I added an Estey 16' set (44 notes) as the bottom of the Tibia Clausa [it never had one originally] augmenting and doubling the 8' and 4' already there. Wittenburg had discarded the 16' octave of the Tuba. I have a Moller 16' tuba set which I may add unless I find a suitable 12 notes of real Wurlitzer metal tuba. Since Wittenburg had discarded at least half of the original shades (and the boobs Martin & Himes cut down some of the remainder), I bought a double set of studio shades from Bill Brown of Phoenix, around 1987 and half of these were used at St. Cross.

With the exception of the tuned sleigh bells (which was sold), the traps and percussions are all there and original. The organ will be installed intact, although I intend to add more ranks which will be playable by a second 3-manual console. As much of the original instrument that remains will always be kept so it may be separated.

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