Grand Theater organ restoration well underway

Jefferson County

Steubenville, OH (WTRF) – Think back to the 1920s.

Jazz was popular, Prohibition was in effect, and silent movies with organ music was one of the biggest forms of entertainment.

Those were the conditions under which the Grand Theatre in Steubenville was built.

Now we’re in a very different kind of ’20s, and the Grand has been closed since 19-79.

But thanks to some talented volunteers, a piece of the roaring decade is coming back to Steubenville with restoration work steadily moving along.

And that means rebuilding its famous pipe organ.

What’s interesting is that when you break it down and do it, it’s really not so complicated. But when you look at the whole mess of everything, it looks horrible.

Scott Dressel, organ restoration worker

Dozens of people have helped out with the massive amount of work involved in putting together the nine-rank keyboard instrument.

With an experienced builder heading up the team, they’ve been piecing it together for several years during weekends.

It’s definitely an eye-catching entry on a resume.

Not very often do you get to rebuild a pipe organ, that’s not a normal thing that you do in the course of most people’s lives, so it’s very interesting.

Scott Dressel, organ restoration worker

Recently they haven’t been able to work on it together, but when they finish, they have big plans to make the instrument and the theater relevant in the 21st century.

The finished product would make the Grand stand out as one of the only theaters in Ohio to retain its original organ.

The group even wants to use it for a daily concert.

One thing I really want to do is I want to have the lobby and eventually the inside of the theater open at noon every day, and have a noon concert, and then people can come in and eat their lunch, and that’s something we’ll do for the community.

Scott Dressel, organ restoration worker

The organ will go inside of the building once work on the seating space is through.

When that happens, you can expect to see more than just some classic movies.

Maybe we’ll have a Steubenville symphony again, there hasn’t been one in a long long time, maybe 40 or 50 years.

Scott Dressel, organ restoration worker

If you’d like to donate to the theater restoration, you can mail a check to The Grand Theater at 121 South Fourth St., Steubenville, OH 43952, and note Wurlitzer Restoration.

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