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Liberty Theatre - 2/8 Wurlitzer, Style 4 X (divided)
Yakima, Washington
Yakima Ave.
Organ installation timeframe: 1920-1954
 
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Liberty Theatre, c.1919
 
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Liberty Theatre building, c.1927
 
The Liberty Theatre originally had a two-manual Style 4X (two chamber) Wurlitzer, opus #138, installed in 1920. This instrument was previously installed in two Portland theatres. First, the Liberty Theatre and then later the Mission Theatre. According to former Yakima residence Bob Jones, the Judd Walton Wurlitzer opus list incorrectly shows opus #138 going to Yakima's Capitol Theatre.
 
According to former Yakima resident Bob Jones, "...the Portland Liberty and the Yakima Liberty Theatres were owned by Jenson & Von Herberg, who also owned the Liberty in Seattle. They purchased [opus] 138 to be the first organ installed in the Portland Liberty. Later they decided they needed a much larger organ and purchased [opus] 164 (4 manual Wurlitzer). Then they shipped #138 to Yakima for the Liberty Theatre. It apparently was not equipped with a Tibia when it was located in Portland, but a Tibia was added for the Yakima Liberty and stop keys for the Tibia were placed on the back board where the trems were located."
 
Liberty Theatre far left, c.1920's
 
Also, according to Bob Jones, the Liberty instrument had a Kinura instead of a Clarinet -- which would have been stock in a Style 4 instrument. The standard eight ranks for a Style 4 were as follows: 16 Tuba Horn, 16 Diaphonic Diapason, 8 Clarinet, 8 Oboe Horn, 8 Viol d'Orchestre, 8 Viol Celeste, 8 Concert Flute, 8 Vox Humana.
 
"I knew about the Yakima Liberty Wurlitzer having been in the Portland Liberty. Harrison Miller was head organist for the Liberty from the time it opened until sound came in, which ended the theatre's use of the organ. He told me about the organ having been in Portland. During the period of silent pictures which both the Yakima Capitol and the Yakima Liberty were showing, both theatres had their Wurlitzers installed and playing the silents. It seems like Bill Bunch also knew about the transfer of 138 to the Yakima Liberty."
 
c.1940's
 
The organ remained in the Liberty Theatre until the mid-1950's. After that, it was installed in two different private residences: Larry Langevin's in Yakima and another in Vancouver B.C.
 
In a letter to The Bombarde magazine in 1964, Bob Wilson writes that "...the Liberty Theatre met with the wrecking ball sometime in the 1960's."
 
c.1940's
 
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Ken Warner and Sandy Balcom at the console, date unknown.
 
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Postcard view of Yakima Ave., Liberty Theatre on left, c.1940
 
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Downtown Yakima, Liberty Theatre on right, c.1954
 

Late 1950's
 


 
** Editor's note: In a letter to The Bombarde magazine in December 1964, Bob Wilson writes: "the 1,000 seat Liberty Theatre originally had a Wurlitzer Style 135D, opus #345 installed in 1920."
 
Mr. Wilson's reference to opus #345 may be erroneous.
 
Former Yakima resident Bob Jones recalls that opus #345 went to the Yakima Majestic Theatre, not the Liberty. The Walton opus list shows opus #345 going to a location called "A & C" which may have been the Majestic Theatre's original name or possibly the theatre owner's name."


In a letter to The Bombarde in Fall 1964, Marshall Willet of Los Angeles, California writes:
 
"My sister's father-in-law, Ed Yeamans of Yakima, built the Liberty Theater. He was rather appalled to see it gutted and the shell remade into a Bank. The Liberty organ holds many fond memories for me. On every Saturday afternoon in my childhood, and on many other occasions I thrilled to the artistry of Harrison Miller 'Tiptoeing Thru The Tulips,' etc.
 
Recently I journeyed to Yakima, and had the pleasure of giving this organ (proudly bearing the nameplate "HopeJones Unit Orchestra") an inspection. I also played a bit.
 
The Liberty Theatre Wurli was removed by Larry Langevin, an accomplished musician. He built a fabulous house for his organ in Yakima, really a small auditorium. The main room is approximately 30' x 30' with a 12 foot ceiling. The console sits in an alcove with floor to ceiling windows both sides. Pipes are in two chambers approx. 10' x 10' and 10' x 18' at one side of the console room. Below these chambers is a basement area of the same size holding relays, regulators, etc. To my unpracticed eye it is a huge installation, and I was surprised to hear that all this comprised only ten ranks. It has some bells, a marimba, chimes, but no drums or traps were visible. Each chamber has swell shades.
 
Larry has since sold this house to a good friend of mine, with the provision that he has a year to remove the Wurli. My friend is not an organ buff, and I do not know what his plans regarding this magnificent installation may be. He now uses the "main auditorium as a family room."


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