About the Organ
After more than 20 years of moving around the state, the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ has been refurbished and returned to its original home, the Meyer Theatre.
The organ was a centerpiece of the original Fox Theatre, now the Meyer Theatre, when it opened on Valentine’s Day 1930. Built specifically for the Fox for $35,000, the original organ was used during silent films, vaudeville shows, amateur nights, and intermission sing-alongs.
In 1975, it was removed from Green Bay to make way for the theatre’s conversion to a triplex cinema. The organ was dismantled and made a few stops over the years, including one in a private home. In 1989 a Neenah man purchased it to avert it being sold for parts. It remained in storage for 12 years. As the Meyer Theatre began taking shape, interest in seeing the original organ return to Green Bay began to grow.
With the generosity of Irene “Billie” Kress, the restoration process began. Using the 1927 blueprint from which the original was crafted, Fred Gollnick of Gollnick Custom Pipe Organs in Lake Geneva, WI, launched the restoration with the help of organ technicians. Gary Bieck and Robert Hoppe completed the final portion of the restoration process.
The console has been rebuilt, the pneumatics for the percussion have been re-leathered, a blower has been installed and 572 pipes that give the organ its sound are now back in place. The pipes range from the size of a pencil to 16 feet in length. Modern technology has also been added, such as a computer that drives the switches telling the organ what to play. Eight different sounds can be generated through the organ, including violin, chorus and percussion. The organ has a special effects console that produces sounds such as horse hooves, chattering teeth, and sleigh bells.