The last original Wonder Morton resides in the United Palace Theatre in Washington Heights, New York. This immaculate theatre has not shut its doors since it opened in February, 1930. Much of this is thanks to the work of Reverend Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II and his family. Reverend "Ike" purchased the theatre in the 1960s and saved it from destruction. Since his passing in 2009, his family led by his son Xavier has maintained the Palace as a world class spiritual space and entertainment venue.
In 1930, near the end of the silent film era, there were an estimated 12,000 theatre organs throughout the United States. At that time, the second largest theatre organ company, Robert-Morton, was asked to build five identical theatre organs to go in the Loew’s theatre chain five massive flagship theatres around the city of New York. The organ was to be magnum opus, and they were to be called "Wonder.” Eventually, the five theatres were nicknamed the "Wonder" theatres because of the instrument within their walls.
Of the five Wonder organs, the one in the United Palace this is the last one left in its original house, completely unaltered. The others have been taken out, moved, heavily altered, or destroyed. In addition, of the 12,000 theatre organs built all over the United States, there are only 25 in their original theatre. What we have is not only unique, it is truly one-of-a-kind.
There are only two instruments that America can call our own. The banjo and the theatre organ. Unfortunately, the theatre organ is no longer manufactured. The instruments that we have left are all we have. We want to not only celebrate the uniqueness of the Wonder, but also celebrate its importance in cinematic and musical history.
We want this organ to play before our film presentations. We want this organ to play silent films to offer a step back in cinematic history for all ages. Just imagine walking in this golden Palace, overtaken by the beauty, and feeling the earth-shaking Wonder playing you in. There will be nothing like it.
Feel the music. Experience the power. Step back in history. Reawaken Wonder.
ABOUT THE ORGAN