The NCCCA, Arts Center is excited to announce Alan Tetreault and Dr. David Cohen have pledged the $125,000 required to fully restore the Wurlitzer organ that will be installed in the Strand Theatre.
The Wurlitzer Opus 970 was built in 1924, the same year as the Strand Theatre and was used to accompany silent films and stage productions. The Rudolph Wurlitzer Manufacturing Company only produced 2,238 Wurlitzer’s and today there are only 16 Wurlitzer organs remaining in the original condition. One of these will be in the restored Strand Theatre here in Plattsburgh.
This organ was originally built for the Colney Theatre in Philadelphia in 1924, but before it closed in 1958 the organ was moved to the First Congregational Church of Gardner in Massachusetts. In 1964 it was purchased by Leonard and Louise Johnson of Hingham, MA. Mr. Johnson was an electrical engineer at Bell Laboratories and devoted the next decade to restoring and installing the organ in his home. Mr. Johnson made no modifications to the original organ, but did expand it with several rare ranks from the large 1922 Skinner organ from the Capitol Theatre in Boston.
In 2004, in response to an internet advertisement placed by the NCCCA Arts Center, the Johnson’s offered to donate the organ to the Strand Theatre. Since that time a volunteer group, under the direction of Jonathan Ortloff, has worked as time and funds were available to cleaning, disassembling, re-leathering and reassembling of the Wurlitzer organ.
In 2011, the NCCCA Arts Center contacted The Spencer Organ Company in Boston, MA for a proposal to fully restore and install the Wurlitzer for the Strand Theatre. With the estimate of $125,000 from the company we thought it was not possible to get this done because our focus was on finishing the Theatre and opening the doors to the community. Alan Tetreault, a local organist and graduate of the Crane School of Music along with his partner David Cohen have stepped in to donate the $125,000 for this restoration. Alan is a local businessman and owner of Global Sugar Art.com and David is a pediatrician and owner of Rainbow Pediatrics.