Sounds of Wonder in A Palace of Dreams- Admission 10¢
"The 80-Year Saga of the Birth, Demise, and Rebirth of
the Theatre Pipe Organ in the Pacific Northwest"
A PSTOS Documentary Video Project
The Northwest has been called "The Cradle of the Theatre Pipe Organ".
Indeed, shortly after the turn of the century, a series of events just happened to take place,
not in New York, not in Hollywood, but in Seattle, Washington! Not until much later was the
historic significance of these events realized. They set the stage for nearly two decades of
frantic development of the theatre pipe organ throughout the U.S.
Could it have happened anywhere else? Of course! But it happened in the Pacific Northwest.
And this is the story!
Adding to its multimedia arsenal which includes an Internet website and broadcast radio, PSTOS saw an
opportunity to "spread the word" about theatre pipe organs through a documentary video suitable
for educational television.
PSTOS Past President Bob Zat, a professional videographer and video editor, has offered to produce the
video, covering the Northwest's rich theatre organ history, including the 1914 Seattle Liberty
Wurlitzer - Wurlitzer's first truly successful theatre organ, and a launching pad for their company,
as well as the 1928 Seattle Paramount Wurlitzer - one of only a handful of organs this size still
in its original home and playing. The video will cover the birth of theatre organs for silent movie
accompaniment, the demise of the instruments when "talkies" arrived, the recycling of the organs
into churches, roller rinks, and later into restaurants and pizza parlors, and their ultimate
"rebirth" as magnificent concert instruments. The stories of local organists such as Oliver Wallace
and Jesse Crawford, who played a role in this rich history, will be included.
Script development, research and production work has begun on preparing the video which will tap the
extensive PSTOS, Bill Bunch archives together with resources from the University of Washington Special
Collections and Museum of History and Industry. Plans are for a presentation of approximately 60
minutes. The video will be used for PSTOS educational activities and copies will be made available to
local and national PBS television stations. Copies will also be available for sale.
A multi-media overview of the video project will be presented at the Annual Conference of the
Pacific Northwest Historian's Guild Saturday, October 24th, 8:30 am-5:00 pm, at Seattle Center,
Northwest Rooms. The 1998 conference theme is "Sounds of the Northwest: the History of Music in
the Pacific Northwest Region." The conference is open to the public.