Historic theater's restoration of 90-year-old pipe organ on pace to be completed in April


OROVILLE, Calif. - The 1920's Wurlitzer pipe organ is on pace to be completely restored by April 7 when it will accompany a showing of the 1925 silent film Peter Pan at the historic Oroville State Theater on Myers Street.

Many of the organ's parts come from a Wurlitzer organ owned by Cecil B. De Mille which he kept in his private home in the Hollywood Hills in the '20's. 

The organ's restoration, which cost the nonprofit State Theater Arts Guild $150,000, is being worked on in a storefront a block away from the theater itself which first opened in 1928.

"It's very much like going into a time tunnel," said Jim Moll, the president of the State Theater Arts Guild, which estimates the entire price tag of the theater's restoration at $3 million. 

"Part of that original design included a historical theater organ that we're currently involved in putting in," said Moll. "The console is 94 years old."

While the painstaking work of putting the organ puzzle together continues, the Guild says the entire restoration project is gaining interest from people of all ages. 

"I think the excitement of seeing how things were done 90 years ago (will generate) a lot of enthusiasm among younger folks too," he said. 

The next stage of this renovation will be the marquee, which will return to its original appearance of 90 years ago, and will include a neon wrap-around with a vertical blade with the word "State" on it.   

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