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MMD > Archives > April 1997 > 1997.04.18 > 04Prev  Next

Visiting North Tonawanda
By Matthew Caulfield

Besides the hulk of the Wurlitzer factory there are several mechanical
music sites worth visiting in North Tonawanda, NY.

The factory itself is largely an empty shell, partly occupied by various
uninteresting small companies, most of which are unrelated to music in
any way. From the front approach you will see the Wurlitzer Tower and
can, with a little imagination, visualize Farny Wurlitzer's rose gardens
blooming in the center of the dual-twin roadways leading to the main
entrance. The old DeKleist factory is the white portion in the right rear
corner of the complex. If you take your camera to that part of the
factory, you will see the original DeKleist name carved or molded into
the exterior wall.

Be sure to stop at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson
Street. You might call ahead (716-693-1885) and ask the curator,
Elizabeth Brick, whether they have any of the neat little tour brochures
that Tim Trager or someone prepared for the town tours given last summer
during the MBSI Mid-America Chapter band organ rally that was held there.
It lists all the North Tonawanda mechanical music sites (old band organ
factories other than Wurlitzer, homes of DeKleist and Wurlitzer, on
Goundry Street, etc.).

At the Herschell museum, ask to see the Wurlitzer roll perforator run. If
you are lucky, you may get to talk to some of the old-timer volunteers at
the museum who used to work in the town music industry, including Gordon
Tussing, the son of Ralph Tussing.  From the Tonawandas it is only a
pleasant hour's drive along the Seaway Trail to Rochester, the one-time
home of Aeolian American. Unfortunately nothing of that is left to see;
but there are the Stinson band organ and 1905 Dentzel carousel at Ontario
Beach Park and the magnificent new carousel and replica Wurlitzer 165
band organ at Seabreeze Amusement Park. Plus collectors such as Alan
Mueller and Jeff Vincent.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Fri 18 Apr 1997, 15:25:10 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  North, Tonawanda, Visiting

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