Connecticut Valley Theatre Organ Society CVTOS

Dedicated to preserving and presenting the music

and excitement of the Theatre Pipe Organ in the

Connecticut Valley.  Maintaining historic pipe organs

in the 1886 Thomaston Opera House

and the Shelton High School Auditorium.




Concert Saturday Afternoon, March 24 2007

Lew Williams with vocalist Jan Peters  "Come to the Cabaret"

 Pops Concert at the Thomaston Opera House, Thomaston, CT on Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets are $15.50 in advance and $18.50 at the door and may be ordered through the Opera House Box Office at (860)283-6250.
The box office is open Monday through Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. All seats are reserved.




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We welcome you to the Connecticut Valley Theatre Organ Society, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the theatre pipe organ and its music. This instrument provided the background music for silent films, and was, later, featured during stage shows.

With its diversity and power, this distinctly American instrument produces a sound like no other in the world. It can be a symphony orchestra or a single solo instrument, and the performing artists demonstrate this as they play every type of music from classical to popular.


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CVTOS, founded in 1961, is a non-profit organization, and is the Connecticut Valley chapter of ATOS, the American Theatre Organ Society, an international organization committed to the perpetuation of this "King of Instruments" as an important musical medium.

In addition to its continuing work of restoration and maintenance of the organs, an added goal of CVTOS is to foster the public awareness of them and to interest young people in them and their music.


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There are currently two theatre pipe organs maintained by CVTOS members:


The Connecticut Chapter of ATOS, while still in its infancy and looking for a theatre organ which could be installed in a public place, purchased and removed parts from a hybrid Robert-Morton from a radio station in Woodside, NY, but was still short of owning a suitable organ. 

A 3/10 Marr & Colton organ was originally installed in 1926 in the Palace Theatre, Danbury, Connecticut.  The organ was later sold, but because of very small organ chamber trap doors and stipulations that the organ grilles could not be removed, the buyer was only able remove the console and chimes.  In the 1960's, John Angevine discovered that the rest of the organ remained, but the grilles remained an obstacle to its removal.

Then in June of 1967 the Palace Theatre decided to install air conditioning and the only location for the equipment was the organ chambers, still full of "stuff" that had to be removed.  Since the grilles still could not be disturbed, large holes were to be made in the outside walls for the air conditioning equipment installation.  John Angevine called the contractor.  The organ had to be removed immediately.  The outside walls would be opened up on Friday and the equipment was being brought in on Tuesday.  In one hot weekend, with the help of his pregnant wife Kathy, friend Allen Strauss, a couple farm hands and members of CVTOS, the organ was quickly removed, still minus its console and chimes.

The 1884 Opera House in Thomaston, Connecticut was ultimately selected as the site for a chapter organ installation.  Negotiations were made to trade some of the Robert-Morton parts for a Kimball console located in a church in Manchester, New Hampshire.

This instrument is now a 15 rank Marr & Colton, with the later addition of 10 ranks from a Marr & Colton church organ, also built in 1926 for a church in Bristol, Connecticut.  The organ installation and stoplist was designed by Allen Miller.  Two very small dressing rooms became the new organ chambers.  The installation was accomplished under the direction of John Angevine, who remains its Crew Chief.

With the three manual Kimball console, it was dedicated by organist Rosa Rio on October 15, 1971, to the memory of Allen Strauss, who was killed in Vietnam.  The "Thomaston Opera House Marr & Colton" is considered to be one of the finest organs for its size in the country.

A major upgrade took place in 2000 with the installation of a Z-tronicsŪ Relay, Combination Action, and Performance Recorder.



The 3/13 Austin Opus 1512 organ was originally installed in the Allyn Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut in 1927. The 1938 hurricane did substantial damage to it, flooding the chambers, smashing the pipes and technically making the instrument inoperable..

Twenty-one years later, in 1959, Allen Miller, while making a survey of theatre organs in Connecticut, discovered this organ, and with the help of a friend was able to get it in working condition by 1960.

Shortly after this, the Connecticut Valley Theatre Organ Society was founded, and through an agreement between Mr. Miller and the Allyn Theatre, concerts and practice sessions were allowed when the theatre was not being used.  Additionally, the organ was promised to CVTOS in the event the theatre was closed or demolished.

The Allyn Theatre closed in October 1969, and the organ was dismantled and moved to a machine shop in Manchester, Ct.  From there it was moved to a vacant store in Seymour, and later to a closed school building in Shelton.

During these years a new high school was being built in Shelton, and an agreement was made with the city whereby space would be allocated for the chambers and a storage crib for the organ console.  In exchange CVTOS would donate the organ to the city and would rebuild, install and maintain it at no charge.

The premier concert for this organ was held on January 25, 1986, and it is the only theatre organ installed in a public high school in Connecticut.  Rosa Rio, famous for playing for the silent movies and later radio shows, lived in Shelton and was a frequent performer on this organ.


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The following concert is scheduled for 2007:

CHRISTMAS at THOMASTON   Watch for Details

The following concert is planned for 2008:

Jelani Eddington, "A Tribute to Leroy Anderson" at THOMASTON   Watch for Details




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If you are interested in preserving the theatre pipe organ as a unique American instrument, then membership in the Connecticut Valley Theatre Organ Society is for you. Here you will find individuals with varying backgrounds who have the same love for this majestic organ and are committed to maintaining its place as a special musical instrument.

Many of our members are hobbyists who play because they love to, and a few lucky ones are fortunate to have theatre pipe organs installed in their homes.

As a member, there are many functions in which you may wish to participate, but that is up to you. The enthusiasm can be catching. Applications may be picked up at the information table at each concert. Membership payments can be sent to: CVTOS Treasurer, 13 Brookwood Drive, Newtown, CT 06460.


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Join the Connecticut Valley Theatre Organ Society and enjoy the following benefits:

* Membership in ATOS and CVTOS is required for these benefits and is highly recommended


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FROM I-95 North or South-
Take exit 27A in Bridgeport. Take Route 8 north out of Bridgeport. Follow directions for Route 8 headed north below..

FROM Merritt Parkway (Route 15) headed north-
Take exit 22 onto Route 8 north. Follow directions for Route 8 headed north below.

FROM Merritt Parkway headed south-
Take exit 53 immediately after going over bridge by Sikorsky Aircraft plant in Stratford onto route 110 north. Proceed on route 110 north (River Road) to downtown Shelton (about seven miles). River Road becomes Howe Ave in downtown Shelton. Follow Howe Ave to first traffic light (Center St). Take a left onto Center St and go up one short block to traffic light (Coram Ave). Follow A below.

FROM Route 8 headed north-
Take exit 14 in Shelton. Take a right off exit and proceed a very short distance to first traffic light (Coram Ave). Take a right onto Coram Ave. Follow A below.

FROM Route 8 headed south-
Take exit 14 in Shelton. Turn right onto Howe Ave and proceed to first traffic light (Center St). Take a left onto Center St and proceed one short block to traffic light (Coram Ave). Turn right onto Coram Ave. Follow A below.

A- Proceed to end of Coram Ave at stop sign. Shelton Library will be directly across the street from you. Take a left onto Shelton Ave (this is also Route 108). Proceed on Shelton Ave to first traffic light (Meadow St). Take a right onto Meadow St. Proceed about a quarter mile on Meadow St (past Echo Ambulance Company building on your left). Shelton High School entrance roadway is on the left (Shelton High School sign is poorly lit at night). Follow roadway to large parking lot behind school building. CAUTION: Speed Bumps .


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FROM Route 8 headed north-
Take exit 39. Take a left off exit onto highway (US 6). Proceed under Route 8 overpass to first traffic light (Main St., Thomaston). Proceed through intersection onto Main St. Go to next traffic light. Thomaston Opera House is on the far right corner of intersection. It is a large brick building with high steps in front and a high clock tower. Take a right at intersection and go a short distance to large parking lot on your left (just behind Opera House).

FROM Route 8 headed south-
Take exit 39. Turn right off exit onto highway (US 6). Follow directions above to Main St., Thomaston.


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Additional interesting information may be found at the following sites:

American Theatre Organ Page - This is the home page for the National organization. It contains interesting historical information on theatre organs.

The Theatre Organ Home Page-This page has lots of good information on theatre organs and also contains links to other organ sites.




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Jon Sibley, President

Bon Smith, Vice-President

Norman A. Andre Jr., Secretary

Juan Cardona Sr., Treasurer

Beth Boda, Concerts

Kathy Angevine, Membership

Membership Information:






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158 Main Street
Thomaston, CT 06787

Business Office: (860)283-8558

Business Office: (860) 283-6250





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