From: John David Alford, May 2000
The "B" installation of this instrument showed as Benedict College, in the organ's
original home of Columbia, SC. This is not (and never was) correct, but I don't mind,
as it is, most likely, the only reason the organ was still there for me later!
The organ was actually installed in the auditorium of Allen University,
also in Columbia. The schools are right across the street from each other,
and, coming out of the auditorium where the organ was installed,
the first sign you'd have seen from that vantage point (at that time,
anyway) was the sign for the school across the street!
The organ was moved there I'm told in about 1940 and it was used some for
radio broadcasts sponsored by a local drugstore. I've had two people tell
me they have recordings of this organ SOMEWHERE, but have yet to actually
All the non-tonal percussions, the glock and xylophone were removed at the
time of the transfer. All that remained was the long wind trunk that would
have supplied the glock and xylophone, and that was just sort of jammed
into a junk room behind the chambers. Even the stop tabs for those items
were removed, some replaced with blanks. The fallboard was left alone,
but the second touch springs were also removed. It is a mahogany scroll
console with minor veneer damage and a VERY worn pedalboard. All the
toe-studs for the trap effects were also taken off.
In the 60's, I'm told, the organ became unplayable and ultimately the
console cable was cut (right where it came out the back. Oh well..
The console was stored in the basement of the science building.
Meanwhile, people who happened to stumble into the building anyway
and inquired about the organ were told that it was no longer there.
(The console being a couple of buildings away underneath some piles of rubbish.)
In 1985, Bob van Camp, Atlanta Fox organist and part-time employee
at the Allen Organ Studio in Atlanta made me aware that this instrument
was there and nobody really knew about it. An Alumnus was buying a new
Allen and they wanted to put the tone cabinets in the chambers.
I bought the organ in August of 1985 and moved it to Atlanta.
The school has always heated with coal, so every horizontal surface
was covered with about a half-inch of soot. The school is a black
university, and I and the friend who helped me looked like we
could be students! The blower was sitting on a platform about 4 feet
tall with a fence around it in what is now a lunch room!
The blower actually did run and we toodled a bit by hard-wiring some
things on the relay.
The organ had a couple of missing pipes in the
Open Diapason, but those have been replaced, as have the 'toy counter'
(which, I'm told is a term WurliTzer never used) and I've acquired
other WurliTzer ranks to expand the organ to around 21 ranks, with
seven 16' ranks.
The organ is
now stored in the Dallas, TX area. I'm here slaving away in Saudi Arabia
to get all the bills paid off so I can sock away some cash to do
something with this instrument besides write storage checks for it!
I hope, within the next year, to at least buy a building so I can
be storing in something that is building equity.