In 1925 a Wurlitzer B 235 theater organ (Opus number 01143) was installed in the theater. It had 3 manuals and 11 ranks. The cost was approximately $25,000. The Wurlitzer Company was located in North Tonawanda, NY. The opening organist was Rubybelle Nason of New York City. Regular organists through the years were Carleton James, Paul H. Forester, Byron Severance, and Luella Wickham. The ranks of the organ are harmonic tuba, diaphonic diapason, tibia clausa, clarinet, orchestral oboe, kinura, viol d’orchestre, viol celeste, salicional, concert flute, and vox humana. There are also the toy counter and percussions typical of large theatre organs.
Wurlitzer B 235 theater organ
In 1928, Keith’s partnered with the Radio Corporation of America—the most powerful communications in the world at that time—to launch a new movie studio, RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum). From then on, each theater in the circuit was known as the RKO Keith. Dennis Conners, the curator of the Onondaga Historical Association, once explained the mystique of the movie palace. “You would go to the theater after dinner,” he said, “and might stand there for a while, waiting in line, while a band entertained from the musicians’ gallery. A whole generation has not had this experience. You may have heard organ music,” Connors went on, “but you’ve probably never heard a theater organ—they were really built to knock your socks off.” The RKO Keith’s was one of several movie palaces on South Salina Street. The movie theaters on South Salina Street in the 1920s included Loew’s State (now the Landmark), Paramount aka Temple, Crescent, Empire (Dewitt), Loew’s Strand, Ritz, Arena, Arcadia aka Colvin, Brighton, Plaza, and Riviera.