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MMD > Archives > December 2013 > 2013.12.11 > 05Prev  Next

Wurlitzer 180 Band Organs
By Matthew Caulfield

Amplifying Art Reblitz's specifics on the three Wurlitzer 180 band
organs that still exist, I can say the following.

Although the Sanfilippo 180 (#3439) very probably did have dual roll
frames with both playing 180 rolls when it left the Wurlitzer factory,
I know from seeing it (and recording one style 165 roll on the organ)
when Jim Wells had it, that it was playing 165 rolls on one frame and
180 rolls on the other.  That change was probably made by Mike Kitner
when he rebuilt the organ for Jim.  I did not know that it had been
changed back to playing only 180 rolls, but my guess is that Mike made
that change when he took the organ back into his shop when the sale
from Jim Wells to Jasper Sanfilippo was done.

The Bies-Boehck 180 (#4275) did go to Waukegan, Illinois, as Art
Reblitz says, on December 30, 1930.  The shipping dock record notes
that it had a duplex [180] roll frame and metal 4-in-1 pot metal
valve blocks.  An entry on August 12, 1935, shows the organ going to
Hagy Bros., Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  On April 23, 1937, it went out
again to Hagy Bros., this time remodeled to play 65-note piano rolls
[APP rolls].

That's the last entry for the organ in Wurlitzer records, but I do
know that the organ spent some years at Eldridge Park, Elmira, New
York, a park owned by Robert A. Long, a member of the famous Long
family of amusement park owners.  The 180 was discovered by (I think)
Dave Bowers on a tip from Harvey Roehl.  It was sitting there
unplayed in the park auditorium called "The Stage."  Dave should be
able to confirm and amplify details on its sale through his American
International Galleries, which ended up with the organ being owned by
Alan Bies and Steve Boehck.

Organ #4182 [in the Bovey Collection, Montana] presents mysteries which
I have not been able to unravel.  It is shown in the Wurlitzer Shipping
Dock records as being shipped on June 18, 1929, to St. Mary's Church,
Amsterdam, New York, and as having swell shutters.  I have had some
correspondence with officials at St. Mary's Church, but none have any
recollection or record of the organ being there.  For whatever purpose
the church bought the 180, it was certainly not for use during church
services, since they had, and still have, a traditional church pipe
organ.  Yet I believe the organ was at the church in some capacity.
The late Merrick Price, of Seabreeze Park, was discussing the St.
Mary's organ with Steve Lanick and others at a meeting I attended
decades ago.

Wurlitzer records show #4182 being sent to Bell's Rink, Fort Wayne,
Indiana, on November 11, 1936, with notation that it plays 65-note
piano rolls ($250 charge noted).  An entry on March 22, 1937, shows
the organ being sent to John L. Bell, Fort Wayne, Indiana, with
notation "16 ft. Bordon [sic] pipes; keyboard; plays automatic piano
rolls."  My letter to Bell's Skating Rink, which is still in operation,
went unanswered.

Matthew Caulfield
Irondequoit, New York

P.S. My original posting in the 131208 MMD says "Wurlitzer sold only
six style 180 band organs.  In addition they converted one Bruder to
play the 180 roll."  I misspoke; the Bruder conversion is one of the
six they sold, not an additional one.  And organ #3765 shown there was
destroyed by fire after 1925.

(Message sent Wed 11 Dec 2013, 23:15:28 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  180, Band, Organs, Wurlitzer

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