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MMD > Archives > June 2017 > 2017.06.23 > 01Prev  Next


One-of-a-kind Ruth Model 36-X Band Organ
By Matthew Caulfield

Gavin McDonough, who lives in a suburb of Richmond, Virginia, owns an
A. Ruth & Sohn band organ with a unique façade featuring an orchestra
of nine animated figures moving in time with the music.  The Ruth is
a Style 36, custom-built in 1910 for William Meissner in Rockaway
Beach, New York.  By the 1930s the Ruth was owned by the Nunley family
who operated several amusement sites in the New York/Long Island area.

In 1948 the late organ man Max Nowicki converted the Ruth from playing
its original book music to playing Wurlitzer 165 rolls.  In the process
some of the registers cut into the style 165 rolls went unused and a
few pipe ranks in the Ruth were repurposed.  But for an organ of that
age and one that had passed through so many hands and venues, the Ruth
was in unusually fine condition.  In 1978 Gavin McDonough became its
final owner.  Although Gavin had both the intention and the skills to
restore the seventy-year-old organ, he did not have the time to do so
until his retirement.

Gavin's restoration of the Ruth, a 28-year project bringing all the
organ's unused features back to life and even adding a few non-invasive
enhancements, was finally completed this year.  The detailed story is
told in an amazing article by Mikey Mills in the July/August 2017 issue
of the AMICA Bulletin on p. 18-24, with a full-color picture of the
Ruth's façade on the back cover.  Mikey has made a CD of the restored
Ruth, which he recorded during a visit to Gavin in connection with his
article, using a hand-held recorder he had with him.   The CD is
available for $16 from Mikey Mills, email

mwmillsmusic@gmail.com.geentroep [delete ".geentroep" to reply]

If after reading Mikey's fascinating article you have more questions,
you can contact Mikey at the email address given above or you can phone
Gavin at 1-804-921-8439.  This Ruth is truly one fantastic and dramatic
organ!

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York


(Message sent Fri 23 Jun 2017, 15:52:02 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  36-X, Band, Model, One-of-a-kind, Organ, Ruth

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