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MMD > Archives > January 2004 > 2004.01.04 > 06Prev  Next

Wurlitzer 165 Organs At Lincoln Park & Griffith Park
By Dan Robinson

There was a discussion on the MMD in November about the history of the
Ross Davis Wurlitzer 165 band organs at Griffith Park and Lincoln Park,
both in Los Angeles.

I was mistaken in my post when I said there was evidence that the
two organs were switched.  They were not switched.  When I saw two
photos of the 1924 organ (with the standard 165 facade), one with the
facade saying Lincoln Park and the other with it saying Griffith Park,
I thought this was evidence that both organs spent time at both parks.

But I came to realize it was only evidence that the pictured organ
was at both parks, not that the other one was!  The 1924 organ was at
Lincoln Park and later more briefly at Griffith Park;  the 1939 organ
(with the 157 facade) was only at Griffith Park.

Following is the complete chronology of the two Wurlitzer 165s.  The
information is from Ed Openshaw (former co-owner, with Don Rand, of
both carousels and organs), with whom Matthew Caulfield recently spoke.

The 1924 Lincoln Park organ (#3629, with the 165 facade) was given to
Ross Davis by Spillman Engineering (maker of both parks' carousels)
as a commission for selling their carousels.  It was sold to somewhere
(Luna Park?) but was sold back to Davis and placed at Lincoln Park.
It stayed there until the carousel was lost to fire in, I believe, 1976.
The organ was in a shop at the time and was spared from the fire.

The following year, it replaced the 1939 organ at Griffith Park.  It
stayed there until September 1986.  The leasees of the carousel had not
adhered to the long standing weekends-only rule for playing the 165 (a
smaller North Tonawanda organ was supposed to be used during the week),
and by this point the 165 would play no more.  The organ is now in the
private ownership of Ed Openshaw in New Hampshire.

The 1939 Griffith Park organ (#4338, with the 157 facade) was at
Griffith Park until 1977 when it was replaced with the (probably
favored) 1924 organ from Lincoln Park, after the fire there.  At that
time the 1939 organ was taken into the private ownership of Don Rand,
and it is now owned by Don Neilson in Pennsylvania, who purchased it
from Rand in, I believe, 1997.

To put it more simply, organized by carousel: The Lincoln Park carousel
had the 1924 organ until the carousel was lost to fire in 1976.  The
Griffith Park carousel had the 1939 organ (there since new) until 1977
when it was replaced with the 1924 organ (from Lincoln Park). That
organ was at Griffith until September 1986.  It was replaced with a
Stinson 165 (Model 87) looking very much like the 1939 organ (which had
been there for almost forty years, before the relatively brief stay
of the 1924 one).  I am not sure when the Stinson organ was installed,
but I know that it was already in place in 1989.

Dan Robinson
Rochester, NY

(Message sent Sun 4 Jan 2004, 23:11:05 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  165, Griffith, Lincoln, Organs, Park, Wurlitzer

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