Rome Grand Theatre Organ Society



Capitol Theatre's old Möller organ gets a dramatic new lift

As the house lights dims and the curtain opens, the gleaming white Möller theater organ will magically rise up from the floor of the orchestra pit, displaying the magnificent instrument's console.  How did they do that? Well, what may seem like magic is actually the end result of some hard work and new equipment. A hydraulic lifting mechanism has been installed to lift the organ console, allowing everyone in the audience the opportunity to really see its beauty.

     When the Capitol Theatre opened in 1928, the console of the Möller theater organ had the ability to rise up out of the orchestra pit so that it and the organist would be in full view of the audience.  Around 1990 the lift was removed from the console so that the stage could be extended by placing a cover over the orchestra pit.

    As with many projects at the Capitol, it took more than money to make the organ lift project a reality. "I believe the whole project, including the lift (which is a standard NAPA auto lift) cost less than $3,000," Pierce said. The project was overseen by Frederick A. Normand, a member of the Rome Grand Theatre Organ Society, who volunteered his time and energy to the project. "The City of Rome did the excavating of the pit this also at no charge thanks to the generosity of Mayor Brown and Fred built the platform," Pierce said.  Other prominent volunteers on the project were Ray Tucker and Joe Fusco of the Capitol board of directors and Capitol house organist John Paul.

     In order that the pit cover could still be used, it was necessary to excavate six inches of concrete and 10 inches of dirt from the orchestra pit floor. The actual excavating started on April 12, 2005 and the project was virtually completed by April 30, 2005.

     The money for the lift project came entirely from the Capitol organ fund a special fund which can only be used for restoration and repairs of the organ. A donation of $1,500 for the organ lift several years ago is what got the fund started. Pierce emphasized that only the organ console is lifted. "This should be distinguished from the organ, which is actually the approximately 400 pipes, the percussion instruments, and sound effects, that are located in the chambers on each side of the auditorium," he said.

     Several other renovation projects are going on at the theatre. "We're currently consulting on the upgrading of the stage sound system," Pierce said, "and the 1939 ticket booth - presently in storage - will return soon, hopefully by summer."

     Pierce said that the Capitol has also begun collecting for a restoration fund. The first major project to benefit from this fund would be the reproduction of the Capitol's original 1928 marquee and blade sign.   Pierce estimates the cost for that will be in the area of $200,000.

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