American Theatre Organ Society

Valley of the Sun Chapter

Phoenix, Arizona

Other Theatre Pipe Organs in the Phoenix Area

  • Phoenix College WurliTzer
The WurliTzer, Hope Jones Unit Orchestra, Opus 408 was shipped from the Rudolph WurliTzer factory in North Tonawanda, New York on April 16th, 1921. It was destined to the new Rialto Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. When the theatre was demolished in mid-50's, Harry Nace, the theatre's owner, realized the value of the WurliTzer in the Rialto and had it removed and stored on the stage of his Downtown Glendale Theatre.

Over the years the organ suffered from some water damage after serveral fires in the Glendale Theatre. Al Davis, composer and teacher at the Phoenix College Music Department, heard of the existence of the WurliTzer. Al had always loved the theatre organ, so he went to work to see if it was possible to have the organ donated to Phoenix College. He knew the potential of the WurliTzer and set out to make it happen. After hours and hours of meetings he was finally able to get the donation from the Nace Organization and approval to install the organ in the school Auditorium.

Although the installation of the organ in the auditorium was begun in the '60's, it wasn't until 1975 that the Valley Of The Sun chapter became involved in the organ's restoration, replacing wind lines, wiring, and releathering. When Al Davis, then the chairman of the Music Department retired, the Music Department lost interest in the project and it was put on hold due to the inability to raise adequate funding to complete the restoration.

In 2004 Phoenix College faculty member Ellen Brown contacted the Valley Of The Sun Chapter with the hopes of returning the organ to playing condition. An agreement was negotiated with the Maricopa Community College District to restore and the use the WurliTzer. After nearly 30 years, the quest to make additions and restore the organ to concert condition has been realized.

  • The Adrian Phillips Residence:  Midmer-Losh 5/105


Originally installed in the Atlantic City High School and re-installed

in the Phoenix residence Music Room of Adrian Phillips, Jr.

Photo courtesy Al Young


  The building of the music room started in October 2000 and was completed in July of 2001.  The restoration project started in January of 2002 and continued through the end of 2006.  Currently, the organ is about 85% complete..  We are currently working on the final additions and expect the project to be fully complete by 3rd quarter of 2008.  

There are currently 105 ranks playing with a pipe total of approximately 6400 pipes.

Wind pressures in the organ range from 3 1/2", 5", 6" 7 1/2", 10", 12", 15", 20" and 25".  The organ is divided into 7 chambers.  The Orchestral, Floating and Choir chambers on the west side of the room and the Upper Great, Lower Great/Pedal, String and Solo chambers on the east side.  Exposed on the upper loft, 8' pedal tibia, vibra-harp, metal bar harp, marimba, chimes and small percussions.

The organ wind system is provided by the two original Kinetic blowers, 15HP and 7 1/2 HP along with an additional 15HP Spencer blower.

The music room was built to be soundproof so that organ music cannot be heard outside.  The music room is climate controlled so that we maintain a constant temperature of 72 degrees throughout the facility.  This is accomplished by 22 tons of air conditioning equipment. Humidification systems are also in place to maintain the correct amount of needed humidity throughout the year. The music room building is 5500 square feet in size and has a 400amp 3 phase electric service to it.

The organ is controlled by the Rickman Uniflex System and was wired by Mr. Al Young who made an earlier post about this subject.  The organ was totally restored from the ground-up.

The organ is of symphonic design but also includes a theatre organ section.  Mr. Lyn Larsen was hired as the project director and tonal consultant for this project.  Under his direction, we carefully choose the re-specification of this organ from the original pipe work and numerous other builders.  Unfortunately, when the organ was acquired in 1974 from the high school, some of the pipe work had been stolen or damaged beyond repair.  In preparing for the installation of this project, which took about 26 years, we were able to acquire choice pipe work from other builders.  The original pipe work was by Midmer-Losh.  Additional pipe work was added from the following builders: Aeolian, Cassavant, E.M. Skinner, Estey, Barton, Robert Morton, Kimball, Gottfried, Trivo, and Wurlitzer.  The end result from this reborn organ is stunning.  It is one of the very few organs in the United States that has the ability to go from symphonic transcription style music to theatre organ style by simply changing memory levels.  

Recent concerts on the instrument over the last 3 years (2005, 2006 & 2007) included artists, Mr. Lyn Larsen, Mr. Ron Rhode, Mr. Rob Richards, and Mr. Tom Hazelton.   Numerous other noteworthy artists have given the instrument a workout and have player files loaded.  A recording project is planned in the near future.

If anyone has any additional questions or would like to see and hear the instrument,

located in Phoenix, Arizona, you may contact me at:

Adrian Phillips III
Co-Owner and Curator

First Christian Church Fellowship Hall - 2/11 Wurlitzer:

Owned by the church and maintained as a chapter organ for many years is a Wurlitzer 2/11 theatre organ. Located in the north central area of Phoenix, Fellowship Hall adjoins the sanctuary of the First Christian Church designed by the associates of Frank Lloyd Wright. Acoustics are bright in the airy and carpeted renovated hall where the instrument is installed. It is a hybrid from around the country. The console and many parts were donated by J.B. Nethercutt, founder of the Merle Normal Tower of Beauty in San Sylmar, California. Two string ranks are from the original Meisel and Sullivan organ in the Phoenix Orpheum Theatre. This venue has been the site of many chapter meetings and concerts. It continues to be a vibrant location for our chapter.   The Wurlitzer has been gifted to our chapter and is pending a move to a new (undetermined) location to provide additional space for use of the church.

  • The William P. Brown Residence Organ, 5/34 Wurlitzer -

Originally installed in the Chicago Paradise Theatre as a 5/21 Wurlitzer, this magnificent home installation now boasts 34 ranks. It came to Phoenix in 1962 from the Richard Vaughan recording studio in California. Installation began in 1964 and was completed in 1968. The home was constructed around the organ, with the console occupying an alcove in the living room area. The chambers are found behind two sets of expression shades, above the listeners.  (Upon Bill’s passing, the organ is pending installation elsewhere.)

Click here to view a picture of, and the specs for Bill Brown's Organ

Organ Stop Pizza Restaurant's 4/67+ Wurlitzer Console.


The original Wurlitzer was built for the Denver Theatre and installed in 1927. In the theatre, it was a style 260, configured as a 3/15. Organ Stop purchased the instrument in the early 1970s, rebuilt, enlarged and installed it in the original Mesa, Arizona location in 1975 as a 3/23. A larger 4 manual "Waterfall" style console was added in 1984, with many additions since. Over 5,000 pipes comprised the organ in 1995. To continue growth and to satisfy the overflow crowds, a new two-story building was built in the fall of 1995, not far from the original building. The new installation features 43-foot ceilings with the organ in four chambers at one end of the restaurant. The console now rises and rotates on a hydraulic elevator.

Click Here to visit The Organ Stop Pizza's Home Page:

Click to visit Phoenix organist Ron Rhode's Web Site:

Click to visit organist Lew Williams’ Web Site:

Click to visit R. Jelani Eddington, 2001 Organist of the Year

Click to visit Walt Strony’s Web Site:

Click to visit organist Rob Richards:

Click Here to return to VOTS Chapter Home Page.


This page brought to you by:
VintageHammond.Com - We Buy-Sell-Trade Vintage Hammond Organs operates KEZL-FM Culbertson, NE A Non Profit Full Powered Radio Station