4/34 Robert Morton Organ
Ohio Theatre - Columbus, OH
Overview of the Ohio's Morton Pipe Organ


The Ohio Theatre's pipe organ was built by The Robert Morton Organ Company of Van Nuys, California. It was installed in 1928 in time for the theater's opening on March 17, 1928, though tonal finishing continued after opening day. The cost of the original instrument was $21,000. It is one of four identical four manual, twenty rank pipe organs built by Robert Morton for Loew's theaters with the others located in Kansas City, MO, Pittsburgh, PA and Providence, RI. However it is the only one of the four to still be in its original home, and only one of a handful of theater organs around the world to also bestow the claim of being it the venue it was built for.

The purpose of the theater organ was to provide orchestral organ accompanyment of silent films. However just before the Morton was installed, films began to "speak" thus ushering a quick end to the use of the theater organ for films. The Ohio's Morton organ continued to be played on fairly regular basis up until the mid 1940s, and then was only played sporatically for the next 20 years.

In the late 1960s, the organ underwent a significant restoration after years of neglect and was once again played on a more regular basis. The restoration of the pipe organ would become the catalyst of an effort which began in 1968 to save the Ohio Theatre from the wrecking ball. Though the organ would have been removed and preserved even had the theater been doomed, a farewell organ concert took place on February 16, 1969 at what many thought would be the final time they would be able to hear the organ in the home it was built for.

Fortunately the tireless efforts of many volunteers and donations from countless individuals paid off as funds were raised to purchase the theater and preserve it from destruction. This was one of the first true preservation efforts of its kind in the country and became a model success story for how to accomplish such a task.

In 1987 the organ went through a major renovation which included a complete rewiring and rebuilding of the console. A new relay system was also put in place and several ranks of pipes and percussion were also added. Since that time, minor modifications have been made to bring it to its current configuration of four manuals, 34 ranks and 324 stops.

The organ is owned by CAPA and is maintained primarily by the Ohio Theater staff. Ongoing maintenance and restoration keep the Morton sound in tip top shape. It is considered to be one of the finest theater organs in existence today.
Quick Facts

Built by the Robert Morton Organ Company of Van Nuys, CA



Original Specification:
Four Manuals
20 ranks

Current Specification:
Four Manuals
34 ranks
324 stops

Spencer 25 HP DC Motor (original)

Miles of wire in the organ:
  95 (approx.)

Console Lift:
 screw driven powered by DC motor (original)

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