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Wichita Wurlitzer
 February 25, 2018  
50 Years Ago - February 25, 1968 - Organ Lost
The headline from the Monday Wichita Eagle, February 26, 1968, resulted from a common mistake. Most people saw the console and assumed it was the organ.
As added information was published, it was explained the console and the few other articles destroyed in the fire was not the total instrument (less than ~5% of the total). The organ had been purchased in late 1967 using $40,000  donated by local community leaders.  Weighing 66,000 pounds, the remaining organ components were waiting for restoration and installation by a crew of volunteers.
Restoration consumed more than 12,000 volunteer hours and occurred in parallel with the design and construction of a replacement console.  Insurance funds paid for the replacement console.  With everything completed, the concert "Wurlitzer Pops Preview" happened with more than 2,000 in attendance on Saturday, December 9, 1972.
In the years since the fire, WTO:
  • Installed another rank (voice), English Horn, during the original  installation. The original 4 Manual / 36 Rank instrument premiered in Wichita as a 4 Manual / 37 Rank instrument.
  • Continued the organ's reputation as 'the greatest of them all - the envy of every other city.'  Reputation established originally at the New York Paramount Theatre in Times Square.  'The magnificent tonal qualities of the Wurlitzer have been maintained and even enhanced in its Wichita home.'
  • Replaced the original organ relay system, an electro-pneumatic system, with a computer system in the late 1980's. The latest update was completed in February 2017. The computer relay system eliminated 30% of organ pneumatics, significantly reducing recurring maintenance costs.
  • Added another rank, Unda Maris, resulting in 4 Manual / 38 Rank instrument
  • Produced more than 120 public performances featuring artists from across the nation and around the world
  • Recorded 5 LPs and 9 CDs featuring the Wichita Wurlitzer with more than 20,000 copies distributed
  • Established a Facebook page - @wichitawurlitzer with fans across the nation and around the world (Including Australia, Thailand, Sweden, Scotland, England, and South Africa)
The improvements build on the iconic reputation of the Wichita Wurlitzer.  The additional ranks and system improvements update and expand the instrument's capabilities.
Today, many residents are not aware that the Wichita Wurlitzer is in Exhibition Hall of Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center.  Share this newsletter with your friends and neighbors to help spread the Wichita Wurlitzer story. 
The Wichita Wurlitzer is owned by Wichita Theatre Organ, Inc. (WTO), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  WTO maintains and improves the instrument using concert revenues, recording income, and private donations. 
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