Detroit's mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ to be heard by audiences for first time since December 2009

Concert series at Senate Theater begins May 15

Detroit (WXYZ) - It's a jewel of Detroit but audiences haven't heard the magnificent sound it produces since December of 2009. It's a theatre organ, but not just any organ.

Wurlitzer built the one-of-a-kind organ for the Fisher Brothers in the 1920s. For years the organ was housed in Detroit's Fisher Theatre. The changeover from movie house to live stage productions led to the sale of the organ.

George Orbits bought the organ with its four keyboards and 34 rows of pipes. He had thoughts of putting it in the house he was planning to build in Franklin, but instead the Senate Theater became its new home.

The Detroit Theater Organ Society bought the Senate Theater from the city of Detroit in 1964 for $1,000. The Society's membership has worked since to repair, restore and maintain the 900-seat theatre on Detroit's west side.

At the end of the 2009 season, the DTOS put the building up for sale and began searching for a new home for its organ. Nothing materialized on either front so the decision was finally made to remain where the organization has been for over 40 years.

Society members have been working in recent weeks to refurbish the theatrer for a new season of organ performances , which begin Sunday, May 15. Jelani Eddington will play the mighty Wurlitzer in concert at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12.00.

The Fox Theatre in Detroit, Redford Theatre and Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater also have working theatre organs. 

Print this article Back to Top