Organ History


This theater organ console was originally installed in the Palace Theater located at 114-116 E. Main Street in Lancaster. The Palace Theater was opened in the spring of 1929 the same year talking movies (talkies) were first produced. Through the 1950’s, the theater continued to provide entertainment for the residents of Lancaster.

The Fairfield Federal Savings and Loan purchased the theater around 1960. It was demolished in order to provide expanded parking and a drive-up window for the Savings and Loan that was originally located at 110 E. Main Street next to Lancaster City Hall. At some point prior to demolition, the entire organ was removed and sold to a church in Defiance, Ohio. At some point in time, a Columbus organ company was hired to replace the organ in the church. The company contacted a local businessman and asked if he would like to have the organ console. The businessman had been in possession of the console for many years, and needed to find it a new home. It was given to Lancaster Mayor Dave Smith and installed in City Hall.

Theater pipe organs were used in the early to mid 1900’s to provide musical accompaniment for theatrical productions and silent movies. Production of theater organs began around 1910. By 1927 there were 63 firms building organs. Production climbed to approximately 2500 organs a year. It is interesting to note the Palace Theater was built the year “talkies” were introduced. The first “talkie” was a film produced by the Warner Brothers (originally from Youngstown, Ohio) titled “The Jazz Singer” with Al Jolson.

This console is not functional without the blower, piped, relays and other associated equipment. It does, however, represent a significant era in the history of Lancaster and Fairfield County.

Perhaps it will bring back some memories of those that witnessed the era, and provide a glimpse into our local history of theaters during the 1920’s and 1930’s.