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Rialto Theatre - 3/15 Wurlitzer, Style 35 "Special"
Tacoma, Washington
310 S 9th St.
Organ installation timeframe: 1918 - 1946
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The 742-seat Rialto Theatre was built in 1918 and designed in the Beaux Arts style by Rolland Borhek. Edward Benedict was an organist at the Rialto in 1919 and reportedly earned $225 per week. In 1923, Henry Francis Parks was organist. and in 1926, Esther Staynor.
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Sign for a show at the Rialto Theatre starting October 7, 1927
The theatre originally had a 3-manual Style 35 "Special" Wurlitzer pipe organ (opus #178) installed in 1918. According to the Judd Walton opus lists, the Style 35 had a unique three-octave Solo manual.
In 1946 the organ was purchased by Ken Graves of Seattle.
The organ was moved again in 1958, this time to the Haller Lake Methodist Church where Balcom & Vaughan replaced the three octave Solo manual with a standard 61 note keyboard.
Balcom & Vaughan sold a new instrument to the church in 1973. The Wurlitzer was sold to Bob Koons. According to Brad Miller, Bob Koons installed the organ in his home and then later installed many of the parts at Big Bob's Pipe Dream restaurant which he owned.
The Rialto Theatre building still exists. The last major renovation occurred in 1990/1991. Although the organ has long since been removed, the pipe chambers are still intact.

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