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Wurlitzer Manor - 4/48 Wurlitzer
Gig Harbor, Washington
Organ installation timeframe: 1986-present
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Click for a larger version of this image (58K). George Perks photo, 1999
Former Brooklyn Fox 4 manual console
Detailed Wurlitzer Manor stoplist
Built in the 1980's to house a 4-manual, 48-rank theatre pipe organ, Wurlitzer Manor is nestled in the trees on the water across the Narrows from Tacoma, and is surrounded by spacious decks with marvelous views.
Click for a larger version of this image (119K). Raymond Lavine photo, 2008.

The organ pipes are beautifully installed behind glass in full view. The sound is glorious. The instrument has been recorded by several top artists, and has been played in concert by many more.
The console was part of an instrument originally installed in 1928 at Brooklyn's Fox Theatre. In the 1970's, the console was moved to the Cardinal Music Palace restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was installed in its present location in 1986.

The following is from Theatre Organ magazine, May-June 1988
Written by Paul Quarino
Often it is said that when a lady gets a new gown, she also gets a new personality. This may well be true of this lady, who started life wearing gold and ivory in the Brooklyn Fox Theatre in 1928, changed to bright royal blue and gold when she resided in the Cardinal Music Palace in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and now, in her new attire, presides over the home of Richard Wilcox [Ed, now called "Wurlitzer Soundview Manor and Gardens" and owned by Barbara Hammerman and Raymond Lavine].
With 48 ranks of pipes and numerous accessories to command, this console is lighter than ever before as all of its work is done by a computer system that requires only electronic components in the console and a single ribbon, about three inches wide, connecting it to the control panel. The wizardry of Mr. Wilcox has made all of this possible, and the technical skill of Ed Zollman has brought it to completion.
When asked how his interest in pipe organs began, Wilcox replied, "I've always enjoyed pipe organs." When asked whether he had played keyboards as a young man, he stated that he played guitar in a rock band. "I just liked organs-used to listen to them on records-always thought they were fascinating, great big instruments. The first record I got," he added, "was 'Leon Berry at the Giant Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, Hub Rink, Chicago'." Dick owned a Hammond X-66, but was never really satisfied with its sound. He always enjoyed the chorus effect of a large pipe organ even though he never fully understood why they sounded so much better than his Hammond.
A friend told him of Ray DeVault at Devtronix, so he flew his own plane to Sacramento, met Ray, bought some parts from him and started from there. His plan was to build himself an electronic simulation of a four-manual, 37-rank theatre organ in which he would incorporate his own computer relay system. When Ray DeVault saw the potential of Dick's relay system, he realized that others could benefit from this system.
One of the first to purchase this new relay for his pipe organ was Dr. Dee Williams of Aurora, Colorado. When Dick went to help install it, he met technician Ed Zollman, who was installing the organ. Dick was impressed with Zollman's work, and told him to be on the lookout for a large pipe organ that he could buy and install in either a "restaurant or a house or something."
Click for a larger version of this image (524K). Raymond Lavine photo, 2008.
Charlie Balogh concert, October 2008
Ed heard that the organ in the Cardinal Music Palace was for sale, so they flew to Indiana to see it, and bought it. In the meantime, Wilcox planned and began construction of his -and the organ's-new home. Together Ed and Dick designed and executed the layout for the 48 ranks to which the organ had grown. Zollman is responsible for the installation of the organ; his principal assistants were Ivan Duff and Patti Simon.
Click for a larger version of this image (56K). When I began the research for this article, I visited the Wilcox home where I immediately found myself in another dimension. I was not in a theatre, a church, or a restaurant, but it embodied the ambience of all of them-a wonderland. This super-studio captured the essence of many of my favorite installations all in one place.
Playing it brought the realization that this was not an instrument to be played just once, and I am drawn, as others will be, to return again and again. This lovely lady, in her new ebony gown, is most fortunate to have found such a home, and her new personality expresses this.