Northwest Theatre Organ History
The Golden Age of Theatre Organ (1908-1929)
In the age of silent movies, music and sound effects were supplied by a new type of musical instrument called the Theatre Pipe Organ. Over 7,000 organs were installed in theatres across the United States and Canada. Today only a few remain in their original homes. Click the links below to learn more about original theatre organ installations in the Northwest.
Theatre Organs Repurposed (1930-1960)
With the advent of talkies, organs were removed from theatres by the thousands. Some were re-purposed for use in churches, restaurants, amusement parks and schools. Others ended up in the scrap heap.
Radio Stations & Recording Studios
Restaurants, Taverns & Social Clubs
Schools, Amusement Parks & Department Stores
Due in part to nostalgia and also the theatre organ's ability to play jazz and other popular music of the time, a growing number of people in the 1960's were drawn to the truly unique sound of the theatre pipe organ. The American Theatre Organ Society (ATOS) was formed and hundreds of instruments were setup in enthusiasts' homes.
Residences & Private Studios
In the 1970's, the "pizza & pipes" phenomenon reached its peak. Dozens of theatre pipe organs (often augmented with flashing lights and other visual effects) were installed in casual, family-oriented restaurants were patrons could view the impressive instruments behind glass.
Pizza & pipes, and other restaurants
1964 ATOE Western Regional Meeting, Portland OR
1966 ATOE National Meeting, Portland OR
1971 ATOS National Convention, Seattle WA
1973 ATOS National Convention, Portland OR
1981 ATOS National Convention, Seattle WA
1988 ATOS National Convention, Portland OR
The Great Northwest
Seattle: Cradle of the American Theatre Pipe Organ
What Do Volcanos and Pipe Organs Have In Common?
What Ever Happened to Mr. Pipes?
Pacific Theatre Organ School
Paramount Theatre - Historic Picture Gallery
Northwest Theatre Organ Personalities
Bill Bunch (1917-1998),
Andrew Corsini ( - ),
Collector of Theatre Facts and Photos
William Hansen (1937-2005),
Master organ builder and technician
Terry Helgesen ( - ),
Collector of Theatre Photos and Memorabilia
C.S. Jensen and J. Von Herberg,
Northwest Theatre Owner/Operators
Organ Builder and Historian
Earl D. Pavette (1889-193x),
Manufacturers Rep. and Builder
B. Marcus Priteca (1889-1971),
Prolific Theatre Architect