The Middletown Paramount’s Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ is owned and maintained by the New York Theatre Organ Society (NYTOS). Crews of volunteer NYTOS members rebuilt, installed, and maintain the instrument. The organ is on permanent loan to the Paramount through a contractual agreement with the City of Middletown, who now operates the theatre.
The instrument is the second Mighty Wurlitzer to reside in the Middletown Paramount in the theatre’s long history. The original Paramount Wurlitzer, a 3-manual 11-rank instrument installed when the theatre was built in 1930, was removed in the late 1950′s to make room for new air conditioning equipment that was placed in the organ chambers.
The current Wurlitzer, built by the Wurlitzer Company of North Tonawanda, NY, was originally installed in the Clairidge Theatre in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1923 as a 2-manual 10-rank organ. Like so many theatre pipe organs (there were thousands of them installed in theatres across the country and around the world during the silent movie era of the 1920′s), the Clairidge organ was turned off during the early 1930′s as sound movies replaced the silents and it was all but forgotten.
In 1982 the Clairidge Theatre underwent major reconstruction to convert it to a multiplex, and the theatre owner donated the instrument to NYTOS, which found a new home for the organ in the Middletown Paramount. Now having 3 manuals (keyboards) and 12 ranks (separate sets of variously voiced pipes), it is slightly larger in size and specification than the Paramount’s original instrument.
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