Return to PSTOS Home Page
Welcome to PSTOS

Seattle Center Food Circus - 3/8 Wurlitzer
Seattle, Washington
Organ installation timeframe: 1967 - 1978
Back to the Northwest Theatre Organ History: Restaurants page

Click for a larger version of this image (36K)
Food Circus console, c.1971
The Food Circus Wurlitzer started out as opus #1427, a 3 manual "Special," installed June 1926 in Salem Oregon's Capital Theatre. In 1941, it was removed from the theatre and installed in Seattle's Civic Ice Arena by Balcom & Vaughan. The organ was used daily until remodeling in 1963 (following the Seattle World's Fair) required its removal.
Glenn White, Chief Sound Engineer for Seattle Center, was involved in installing the new sound system in the Arena. He asked the remodeling contractor what was to become of the organ, and was told it would be demolished by the wrecking ball. Glenn convinced the contractor to allow the organ to be removed instead. Glenn and his staff worked feverishly over a weekend to get it out and into storage before the demolition started on Monday.
While in storage, some restoration work was performed and the console was painted a bright red and gold. Glenn also manufactured two replacement pipes for missing ones in the Concert Flute rank.
During the off-season months in 1964-65, Glenn and his crew installed the organ on the upper level of the Food Circus at Seattle Center, the former Washington State Armory building - a cavernous structure. There was no money to build a chamber, nor was there a suitable room that could made into a chamber. As a temporary solution, Glenn and his crew laid the shutters on the steel ceiling support structure. This was located adjacent to the narrow walkway near the southeast corner of the upper mezzanine floor. The chests and pipework were set up on the shutters (!) with the console on the nearby walkway.
According to White, "They played it quite a bit at lunch time on weekends, and a lot of people liked it. [Earline Hunt], who played the electronic organ for Hockey games in the Coliseum, liked to play it at noon. Unfortunately, we never made a recording of the organ."
Mr. White left Seattle Center in 1968 for a position at the University of Washington. The Food Circus was remodeled and Balcom and Vaughan removed the organ and re-installed it in 1970 on the lower mezzanine level on the West side. The remodel provided a chamber and a platform for the console.
Click for a larger version of this image (30K) Dick Schrum and Earline Hunt were regular organists.
PSTOS held frequent chapter events at the Food Circus.
<--- Here Dick Schrum assists young member Mike Kirita in April, 1970. According to the chapter newsletter, his feet barely reached the pedals for his well executed arrangement of "A Time for Us."
Eventually, the Food Circus underwent changes and the organ was not used. There were plans to re-install the instrument at Seattle Center, but on May 4, 1978 the organ was put up for sale in a sealed bid auction. Bill Carson of Tukwila, Washington won the bid. Bill eventually sold the instrument to Jerry Gould and it was stored at the Greenwood Pizza and Pipes restaurant. It was later re-sold to Greg Smith who in turn sold it to Jay Palmer. It is currently playing in Jay's Lynnwood home, just north of Seattle.

Ballard News-Tribune article, c.1968
Click for a larger version of this image (170K)

About this site© PSTOS, 1998-2004