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Calvary Christian Assembly - 3/25 Kimball-Wurlitzer
Seattle, Washington
Organ installation timeframe: 1942 - present
 
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Expanded Calvary console, 2014
 
The Calvary Christian Assembly (CCA) organ is a combination of Kimball & Wurlitzer pipework controlled by a Balcom & Vaughan console. Kimball Opus 6651 (Liberty Theatre, Centralia) was built in 1922, and in 1942 was acquired by and installed in Hollywood Temple (across 8th Ave. where I-5 is today) as a memorial to Mr. E. R. Erickson. It has served the congregation 72 years.
 
When the present building was completed, the Kimball was moved from Hollywood Temple with the console placed out of view next to the old choir loft. During the late 1960s the organ was melded with Wurlitzer Opus 697 (Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood, CA), acquired from the well-known California gospel music personality, Lorin Whitney. The combined and enlarged organ was installed by Balcom & Vaughan Pipe Organs and contained 19 ranks plus two sets of chimes, marimba and chrysoglott. The new Balcom & Vaughn console was equipped with a full complement of combination pistons operated by a then-state-of-the-art mechanical control system. The enlarged and reinstalled organ was dedicated June 28, 1970.
 
More information about the instrument prior to the 2014 expansion
 
The instrument served the church well for many years. Over the years the organ was used less and less and slowly fell into a state of needing much repair.
 
PUGET SOUND THEATRE ORGAN SOCIETY ENTERS THE STORY
 
In 2008, Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society (PSTOS), the local Chapter of American Theatre Organ Society, agreed to host the 2010 week long ATOS international convention and wished to include the CCA organ in the program lineup. To prepare the instrument for presentation to this group of critical listeners, PSTOS invested considerable time and resources to bring the organ up to an acceptable concert performance level. That event was such a resounding success that PSTOS began working with CCA to produce one or two theatre organ concerts each year. But the organ still needed a great deal of costly maintenance and repair not included in the church budget.
 
CCA & PSTOS FORM AN ALLIANCE
 
It was learned that other ATOS chapters in the U.S. and abroad had formed alliances with churches wherein an ATOS chapter agrees to upgrade and maintain the church’s theatre organ in exchange for certain usage, including presenting concerts for the enjoyment of the congregation, Chapter members, and the public. In each such case, a detailed legal agreement was carefully crafted to protect both parties. And in each case, the alliance worked to the benefit of all—the church enjoying a perfectly working organ with no maintenance costs, and the Chapter able to confidently present internationally recognized organists, knowing the instrument will meet expectations and perform flawlessly.
 
In 2012, PSTOS representatives began a dialog with the CCA Board, exploring their interest in forging such an alliance. With thanks to Jeff Snyder, who sat on that board and was also president of PSTOS, an agreement was eventually crafted and signed.
 
ADDITIONAL PIPEWORK ACQUIRED TO ENLARGE AND ENHANCE THE ORGAN
 
Meanwhile, confident that the agreement would be finalized, the PSTOS Board of Directors authorized purchase of four ranks of beautiful pipework from the estate of member Ray Whelpley —Tibia, Orchestral Oboe, Kinura and Trumpet, plus a complete toy counter and additional tuned percussions. In addition, Russ Evans designed and constructed a new rolling platform for the console which allowed it to be moved from beneath the balcony, making it easier for organists to hear the instrument. This also eliminated the need to manually lift the console from its former fixed location to the platform level for concerts.
 
In addition, a brass sax from Bert Lobberegt's organ (revoiced by Trivo with new shallots and reeds) is now a part of the Calvary organ.A flute celeste was also added, together with a chrysoglott, glockenspiel, xylophone, full traps, and toy counter from Ray Whelpley's home organ.
 
A UNIFLEX 3000 system now controls the organ with a vastly enlarged specification including record -playback and MIDI. The piston complement was enlarged as well as toe pistons. A unique percussion unit including a clave and bongo drums created for Bellevue Pizza and Pipes was donated to the Calvary project by Jack and Betty Laffaw. A set of Wurlitzer tuned sleigh bells has been donated by Barbara Graham and will soon be installed. The relay is programmed for a rank of Quitadenas which will be added in the future. As of September 2014, there are 25 playing ranks which include six in the ECHO chamber.
 

Added pipework and percussions in the Solo chamber, 2014
 
THE PSTOS INVESTMENT
 
When the PSTOS Board of Directors authorized the project, they were confident of having sufficient funds, mostly from the 2010 convention, to cover the costs. But by March, 2014, over $42,000 had been paid out for the Whelpley parts, replacement of the blower motor and starter (an unexpected expense), the Uniflex control system, the new control panel with all new stop tabs from Klann Organ Supply, and 380 hours of professional technician’s work and a like number of volunteer hours. A dedicated fund drive would be necessary to complete the work. The fund drive began in March. The goal —$20,000. The drive was a success.
 
THE CCA KIMBALL-WURLITZER PLAYS AGAIN FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF ALL!
 


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