From: Bill Milligan, Dec. 1995
To those of you speculating on the specification of the "Mightiest"
Wurlitzer in Dekalb, IL. - I was one of the builders of that organ. And,
although it was a while ago, here (to the best of my recollection) are some
of the details.
The principal players in the "Mightiest" project were all Wurlitzer employees:
George Buck - Manager of Marketing Services
Dave Ashby - Sales Trainer/Concert Pianist & House Organist
Lou Rosa - Organ Service Manager (Retired)
Bill Milligan - Manager Audio/Visual Services
There were four full-time employees working on the organ for the duration of
the project (a little over two years.)
The "Mightiest" was composed principally of three Wurlitzer organs:
Opus 1284 - From Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, NY
Opus 1464 - From Proctors Theater in Troy, NY
Opus 2080 - From Radio Station WCCO in Minneapolis, MN
Plus a few Wurlitzer ranks purchased individually. (Additional tibias, etc.)
The console shell was the "slave' console from:
Opus 1984 - the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, NY
The Console, along with the WCCO organ, were purchased from Mr. Davies in
Philadelphia, PA. The Proctors organ was in storage and was purchased from
Colonel Rand in Amesbury, Mass. We purchased and removed the Our Lady of
There was some new pipe work in the specification. It was made by Gieseke
and purchased from Delaware Organ Company in Tonawanda, NY. It included:
A "Skinner" style French Horn (Double tuning rolls, etc.)
A Quintadena/ Quintadena Celeste
and II, III, and IV rank Mixtures. (That's nine ranks in total.)
ALL were voiced on TEN inches of air. The mixtures sat on new (Delaware)
electro-pneumatic, unit chests. EVERYTHING else in the chambers was
The 32' "Diaphone" was actually a reed and was based on a Gieseke block,
tongue, and shallot with special wooden resonators also built by Delaware
Organ Company. The reed boots were interesting in that each one had a glass
window fitted in its side so that you could actually see the reed working.
It was voiced to match the Wurlitzer 16' (wooden) Diaphone, and did so
remarkably well. (Particularly considering that the main rank was enclosed
and the 32' octave exposed!)
The piano was a new Wurlitzer 158C grand (that's 158 "C" as in "centimeters"
- or about 5'6" long) and was fitted with electro-mechanical solenoids which
hung under the key bed.
The console was rebuilt and enlarged in our plant in Holly Springs, MS. The
console decorations were designed and executed by one of the companies
in-house designers. All the decorations were covered in REAL gold leaf that
we found in one of the vaults at the N. Tonawanda facility. It had been
there since the twenties. The combination action was the standard "Safety
Pin" variety, but it drove Kimber-Allen stop magnets fitted with new HESCO
stop keys. And, in spite of the fact that there was a piece of 4" orgaflex
running into the back of the console, there was NO AIR in the console. (The
orgaflex just concealed the cables.)
The organ used standard Wurlitzer electro-pneumatic relays and
switch-stacks, reworked to fit the new specification. They were located in
an approximately 20' X 40' room in an adjoining building.
The console had five manuals and controlled sixty-nine (69) ranks of pipes!
There were seven divisions, arrayed across the front of the room in a
modified "H" pattern. They were:
Foundation - Stage Right/Level I
Main - Stage Right/Level II
Orchestral - Center/Level II
Solo - Stage Left/ Level I
Brass - Stage Left/Level II
Percussion (Exposed) - Center/Level III/Front
Percussion (Enclosed) - Center/Level III/Rear
As to the organs being finished... IT WAS! There were times when we would
play eight or nine concerts a day on it. George, Dave, and I would have to
trade off so that we could get some regular work done. We had a week long
training seminar three times a year in which the organ figured prominently.
We also did silent films, organ shows, and special concerts with local
If anyone has any other specific questions, feel free to e-mail me.