Virginia Theater Champaign IL 1921/1924 Wurlitzer Theater Organ

Virginia Theater
Champaign, IL

Restoration of a rare, intact Theater Pipe Organ

Virginia Theatre Wurlitzer Organ


Buzard Pipe Organ Builders has completed renovations and restorations to the Wurlitzer Theater Organ from the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL. The Wurlitzer Style 185 was first installed without a Tibia, as was the fashion in 1921; as the Tibia color became an essential component of movie theater organ accompaniment sound, the owners had one installed by Wurlitzer in 1924; it is one of a precious few instruments still found in its original home. The organ was resurrected by David Junchen during his student days at the University of Illinois in the 1960’s, and more recently had been cared for by a group of volunteers under the leadership of the late Warren York, who was also well known for his playing of the organ, especially in his trademark red socks!

Stop List

PEDAL (13 tablets)
Ophicleide 16 OPH
Bass 16 BASS
Bourdon 16 BOUR
Tuba Horn 8 Tuba Horn
Open Diapason 8 OPEN
Tibia Clausa 8 TIBIA
Cello 8 CELLO
Flute 8 FLUTE
Octave 4 OCT
Bass Drum
Crash Cymbals
Kettle Drum
ACCOMPANIMENT (19 tablets)
Tuba Horn 8 TUBA
Open Diapason 8 OPEN
Clarinet 8 CLAR
Viol d’Orchestra 8 VIOL
Viol Celeste 8 VIOL
Flute 8 FLUTE
Vox Humana 8 VOX
Octave 4 OCT
Viol 4 VIOL
Octave Celeste 4 VIOL
Flute 4 FLUTE
Vox Humana 4 VOX
Twelfth 2-2/3 12th
Piccolo 2 PICC
Chrysoglott CHRYS
Snare Drum
Chinese Block
SOLO (24 tablets)
Ophicliede 16 OPH
Bass 16 BASS
Tibia 16 TIBIA
Clarinet (Ten C) 16 CLAR
Contra Viol (Ten C) 16 VIOL
Bourdon 16 BOUR
Vox Humana (Ten C) 16 VOX
Tuba Horn 8 TUBA
Open Diapason 8 OPEN
Tibia Clausa 8 TIBIA
Clarinet 8 CLAR
Viol d’Orchestra 8 VIOL
Viol Celeste 8 VIOL
Flute 8 FLUTE
Vox Humana 8 VOX
Tibia Clausa 5-1/3 TIBIA
Octave 4 OCT
Tibia 4 TIBIA
Viol 4 VIOL
Octave Celeste 4 VIOL
Flute 4 FLUTE
Vox Humana 4 VOX
Twelfth 2-2/3 12th
Nameboard (Back rail – small tablets)– L to R (30 tablets)
Clar 8 (Pedal)
Cello 8
Acc/Ped 8
Tibia Clausa 8 (Accom.)
Piccolo 4
4’ Octave)
Tuba Horn 8 (Accom. Second Touches)
Clarinet 8
Sleigh Bells
Ophicleide 16 (Solo Second Touches)
Clarinet 8
Twelfth 2-2/3
Piccolo 2
Fifteenth 2
Tierce 1-3/5
Tibia Clausa (Tremulants)
Vox Humana
There is also an added block below the left key sill that controls the following percussions:
Bird Whistle
Cow Bell
Fire Gong
DI Horn
Boat Whistle
Auto Horn
Train Whistle
Engine Whistle
Police Whistle
ACM Siren
Toe Pistons – Left to Right
1 – Doorbell
3 – Bass Drum
(Swell shoe)
Lever – Kettle Drum
Level – Repeating Cymbal
Thumb pistons
Under Solo p mf f ff fff 1 2 3 4 5
Under Acc. P mf f ff fff 1 2 3 4 5

Pipe Count

16’ Tuba Horn 85 pipes
16’ Open Diapason 85 pipes
16’ Flute 97 pipes
16’ Tibia 85 pipes
8’ Clarinet 61 pipes
8’ Viol d’Orchestre 73 pipes
8’ Viol Celeste 73 pipes
8’ Vox Humana 61 pipes
Cathedral Chimes 18 notes
Sleigh Bells 25 notes
Xylophone 30 notes
Glockenspiel 30 notes
Chrysoglott 49 notes

The present work consists of a complete component restoration of the existing mechanism, console and pipework, while the much altered relay was replaced with a new custom-built Peterson ICS-4000 system. This system gives the organ MIDI capabilities, as well as a combination action, the original long since removed. The remaining original relay parts is stored at the Theatre.

An exciting part of this project is the addition of two ranks of Wurlitzer pipework, an Orchestral Oboe, and an English (Post) Horn. With these additions, the organ essentially becomes a Style 216, a real “jazzy” organ that was popular on the West Coast in the later 1920’s. Much care has been taken to keep these additions in Wurlitzer style through the use of restored pipework, chests, regulators and tremulants.

Following the organ’s restorations’ completion and re-dedication by the late Chris Gorsuch in 2012, the majority of the instrument was removed to the Builder’s workshop for secure storage during the Theatre’s complete restoration of 2012-2013. The organ was re-installed, regulated and tuned just in time for the Theatre’s re-opening, for the annual Roger Ebert Film Festival.

The instrument is now regularly played before feature movies and special occasions by Organist Dave Schroeder of Danville, Illinois.