The Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (OVC-ATOS) is dedicated to conserving and promoting a unique American musical Instrument the theatre pipe organ and its music. In the 1920’s these magnificent instruments thrilled audiences providing accompaniment to silent movies, musical interludes, and solo presentations.
Our goal is the preservation of these instruments in their original theatres, when possible, and when not, finding suitable new homes for them. We work to preserve this portion of Americana with education seminars and musical presentations. This versatile instrument is not only proficient in the presentation of music of the early and mid portions of the last century, but also in contemporary musical theatre. We are passionately devoted to providing professional leadership and resources so the theatre pipe organ will thrive in the 21st century
A Brief History of the Ohio Valley Chapter
Founded in September 1960, the Ohio Valley Chapter (OVC) of the American Theatre Organ Society is an all volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation of the theatre pipe organ. These theatre organs were manufactured to accompany silent films in the 1920’s. When talking pictures became popular, these organs fell silent. ATOS chapters acquire theatre pipe organs and restore them so future generations can enjoy their magnificent sounds.
The Ohio Valley Chapter joined with the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, Cincinnati Arts Association, the City of Cincinnati, Ronald F. Wehmeier, Inc. Pipe Organ Service, Frank Messer & Sons Construction, and Glaserworks Architects to install OVC's Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Organ in the Ballroom of historic Music Hall. The Albee Wurlitzer has a strong Cincinnati heritage, starting out in The Albee Theatre on Fountain Square on Christmas Eve in 1927.
The OVC acquired the Albee Wurlitzer in 1968 and removed it from the Albee Theatre which was scheduled for demolition. For the next eight years, a dedicated group of volunteers rebuilt the Wurlitzer and installed it in Emery Theatre, where it performed for 22 years with the classic movie series and other concerts. In 1999, OVC found it necessary to remove the Wurlitzer and a search for a new home was undertaken.
The Music Hall Ballroom received many Albee artifacts during a renovation in 1999. Discussions were undertaken and it was decided that the Music Hall Ballroom would be the best new home for this historic Wurlitzer. The Albee Mighty Wurlitzer will now reside among the other Albee decorations in the Ballroom. This effort preserves yet another gem of the Queen City. An anonymous donor graciously agreed to fund the complete project for the Ohio Valley Chapter - American Theatre Organ Society. This allowed for a professional rebuilding and installation of the organ by Ronald F. Wehmeier, Inc. Pipe Organ Service.
With the Music Hall Ballroom installation, it will once again be possible for The Ohio Valley Chapter to present this fine Wurlitzer for the public to enjoy. OVC welcomes membership in this unique society. To learn more about The Ohio Valley Chapter of The American Theatre Organ Society, contact president Joseph L. Hollmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph L. Hollmann,
Photo credits: Wurlitzer in the Albee - Jack Doll Jr.
Wurlitzer in the Emery Theatre - Enquirer File Photo