Historic Memorial Auditorium organ to get facelift - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Historic Memorial Auditorium organ to get facelift

Tim Baker, Pres. William H. Bauer Foundation Tim Baker, Pres. William H. Bauer Foundation
Samuel Bowerman, Organ Restorer Samuel Bowerman, Organ Restorer
Memorial Auditorium Memorial Auditorium

By Chris McGill - bio | email

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) - Louisville's Memorial Auditorium has hosted some of the brightest stars in Hollywood over its eighty-plus year history including Bette Davis, Myrna Loy and many other famous actors. It's also the home of the world's largest Pilcher pipe organ. But time has taken its toll on the one-of-a-kind instrument and now an effort is underway to save this historic piece of Louisville history.

Tim Baker, President of the William H. Bauer Foundation, is spear heading the effort to restore the historical pipe organ. And his love for the instrument goes back to his teen years.

"My friend and I have been down here (Memorial Auditorium) since we were sixteen-years-old working on this instrument and keeping it going, because if you don't play them, they die."

The organ was built by Henry Pilcher's Sons and is listed as the largest of its kind in the world. Unveiled on Memorial Day 1929 for Memorial Auditorium's grand opening, the pipe organ has been played by some of the greatest organists of all time.

Baker says, "I feel honored just to sit on this bench, the same place that so many world famous organists have spent time here as well and they loved the instrument."

The restoration has to be divided into several phases. The leather inside the organ is over eighty years old, but the biggest hurdle is the electrical system, which is the heart of the organ. Parts alone are estimated to be over $40,000. But the cost of repairing the organ is going to be free. Thanks to labor of love by organ restorer Samuel Bowerman.

"I wanted to make sure that we at least started this under some kind of supervision that I could be part of," says Bowerman, who also used to work on the organ along with Baker years ago.

Time is of the essence when it comes to repairing the organ. Bowerman estimates it will take between five-hundred and six-hundred hours to restore the organ to its original condition. That time includes refurbishing all of the 6,000-plus hand made pipes that make up the organ.

"They're all hand soldered, all the metal has to be cut, metal has to be cast, wood has to be planed , they have to be rolled up on the mandrills (and) the seams have to be all soldered together," says Bowerman.

When the job is finally finished, Bowerman says "we're going to crank it up wide open! You think it's something now, if that ever gets done, watch out!"

Thanks to donations enough money has been raised to at least start the renovation on this organ. The electrical system will be the first part to be restored with the rest of the organ following as more money is raised. Currently Baker says that they hope to have the organ back to perform for guests in the Fall. Although enough money has come in to start renovations, they still have a long way to go. If you would like to help, you can donate to the William Bauer Foundation courtesy of Memorial Auditorium, 970 S. 4th Street in Louisville.

Copyright 2011 WAVE. All rights reserved.

  • FOX19 HeadlinesMore>>

  • Teen suspect in Maryland officer's slaying held without bail

    Teen suspect in Maryland officer's slaying held without bail

    Monday, May 21 2018 11:43 PM EDT2018-05-22 03:43:29 GMT
    Tuesday, May 22 2018 7:26 PM EDT2018-05-22 23:26:38 GMT
    A 16-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a Baltimore County, Maryland, police officer. (Source: Baltimore County Police/CNN)A 16-year-old boy has been charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a Baltimore County, Maryland, police officer. (Source: Baltimore County Police/CNN)

    The officer, who wasn't immediately identified, was run over by a Jeep and fatally injured, authorities say.

    Full Story >

    The officer, who wasn't immediately identified, was run over by a Jeep and fatally injured, authorities say.

    Full Story >
  • The princes, the president and the fortune seekers

    The princes, the president and the fortune seekers

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 12:13 AM EDT2018-05-22 04:13:57 GMT
    Tuesday, May 22 2018 7:25 PM EDT2018-05-22 23:25:36 GMT
    (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File). FILE - In this May 20, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. In emails obtained by The Associated Press, George Nader claims...(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File). FILE - In this May 20, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. In emails obtained by The Associated Press, George Nader claims...

    A top Trump fundraiser and a senior adviser to a UAE crown prince ran a secretive campaign, trading lobbying against Qatar for defense contracts from Gulf countries.

    Full Story >

    A top Trump fundraiser and a senior adviser to a UAE crown prince ran a secretive campaign, trading lobbying against Qatar for defense contracts from Gulf countries.

    Full Story >
  • NKY prosecutor Linda Tally Smith loses election in wake of David Dooley murder trial scandal

    NKY prosecutor Linda Tally Smith loses election in wake of David Dooley murder trial scandal

    Tuesday, May 22 2018 7:25 PM EDT2018-05-22 23:25:45 GMT
    Linda Tally Smith is the Commonwealth's Attorney - 54th Judicial Circuit for Boone and Gallatin counties. (Photo: The Enquirer/Liz Dufour)Linda Tally Smith is the Commonwealth's Attorney - 54th Judicial Circuit for Boone and Gallatin counties. (Photo: The Enquirer/Liz Dufour)
    Linda Tally Smith is the Commonwealth's Attorney - 54th Judicial Circuit for Boone and Gallatin counties. (Photo: The Enquirer/Liz Dufour)Linda Tally Smith is the Commonwealth's Attorney - 54th Judicial Circuit for Boone and Gallatin counties. (Photo: The Enquirer/Liz Dufour)

    Voters ousted the prosecutor involved in the scandal that helped overturn a conviction in one of Northern Kentucky's highest-profile murders.

    Full Story >

    Voters ousted the prosecutor involved in the scandal that helped overturn a conviction in one of Northern Kentucky's highest-profile murders.

    Full Story >
Powered by Frankly