Our Lady of Consolation RC Church
Jeff Barker at the Our Lady of Consolation Kimball
View a YouTube video of Jeff Barker playing the instrument.
HISTORY OF THE KIMBALL
Special thanks to member Ron Abata, co-owner of Casa Lido Restaurant, for supplying information for this article.
The Kimball Theatre Pipe organ now installed in the school auditorium / gym at Our Lady of Consolation RC Church in Wayne, N. J. has an interesting history.
The 1927 organ was built for and installed in the Bagdad Theatre, Portland, Oregon at a cost of $16,500. The theatre was built by Universal Pictures in 1927 for the then enormous amount of $100,000. The opulent venue was built with Middle Eastern influences that adorn the building’s exterior and interior. The Bagdad Theatre was not only a first-run movie theatre, but also a key venue on the vaudeville circuit into the 1940’s. When television killed vaudeville, the venue switched to a film-only schedule, a format it has maintained to this day, with one exception. As of 1998, the Bagdad Theatre building was operating as the Bagdad Pub & Theatre which offered a unique "beer & bijou" combination.
Today the theatre is run by the McMenamin brothers who operate the venue as a one of a kind second run theatre that mixes classic film and classic food. It is a perfect place to eat some pizza, drink a beer, and see a great movie.
Bagdad Theatre circa 1944
Bagdad Theatre Today
Kimball Console in the Bagdad Theatre
Kimball stoplist as installed at the Bagdad
In the 1940’s the Bagdad Kimball was removed from the theatre and played at the private residence of Ted Marks, also in Portland, Oregon. In the early 1990’s Ted’s widow sold the organ to a restaurant in Ontario, Canada. The deal fell through, and the organ was crated and placed in storage in London, Ontario, where it remained until late 1992.
Console at the Marks Residence, Portland, early 1990’s
GSTOS Vice President the late Chuck McSloy saw the instrument advertised at the 1992 ATOS National Convention in Philadelphia. By May of 1993, he and his business partner Ron Abata had driven a truck to Canada to transport it, and had it installed and playing at their Casa Lido Restaurant in Trenton, N.J., just 2 blocks from the Trenton War Memorial.
A number of GSTOS members participated in the installation project at Casa Lido, many of whom had been on the Trenton War Memorial Crew. Once installed, the organ was played for lunch every Wednesday, with a different artist playing monthly. GSTOS members enjoyed visiting this venue on May16, 1993 to celebrate both the inauguration of the organ, and the 20th anniversary of the incorporation of GSTOS. Our visits there were to be short lived, however. On September 18, 1993 GSTOS installed its 21st set of officers at the Casa Lido. It was to be our last meeting at that venue.
Kimball Console as installed at Casa Lido Restaurant, Trenton
By the end of 1994, the Kimball had moved again and was installed by Jeff Barker as a 3/12 instrument at Nelson Page’s Galaxy Theatre, located in a high rise building in Guttenberg, N.J. GSTOS first visited this venue on November 20, 1994. The instrument was used weekly at the Galaxy, with organist Jeff Barker at the console for 12 years.
Kimball Console, with its fourth cabinet finish,
as installed at the Galaxy Theatre, Guttenberg
When the theatre closed in January of 2007, and the Kimball lost its home, again, arrangements were made by GSTOS member Fr. Michael Lombardo to acquire it for our Lady of Consolation Church in Wayne. The organ was professionally removed and packed for transport by the Peragallo Organ Company of Paterson, N.J.
Our Lady of Consolation RC Church, Wayne, N.J.
Since that time Jeff Barker and Jeff Page have installed it in the church’s grammar school auditorium / gymnasium, an 80 x 60 foot room with wooden arched ceiling which easily seats 400 people. The Kimball is installed in a chamber on the side of the proscenium, with additional pipes and percussions unenclosed. The largest pipes stand in front of the back wall of the stage.
And once again it plays, in its fifth venue!