Beacon Theatre - New York City (photo: Cinema Treasures)
 
Original vertical sign and marquee
Click on images to enlarge
Beacon Theatre

2124 Broadway at 74th Street
New York, N.Y. 10023
http://www.beacontheatrenyc.com






Beacon Hotel - New York City (photo: Wurts Bros., N.Y., 1930)  
Hotel Beacon (1930)  
The Beacon Theatre is contained within the lower floors of the 24-story Hotel Beacon, completed in November 1928. As described in The New York Times, the new hotel included "a gymnasium, two restaurants, and roof gardens on the set-backs. An areoplane beacon on top of the hotel will display the largest candle-power light in the world...seen on clear nights as far as seventy miles away by planes [and that] is visible from the ground as far as twenty-five miles from the hotel."

The Beacon was originally named the Roxy Midway and was intended to be the first theatre in a city-wide Roxy Circuit owned by William Fox after he acquired control of the 6,000-seat Roxy Theatre at Seventh Avenue & 50th Street. However, before it opened, Fox went bankrupt and the theatre sat unused for about two years before Warner Brothers took it over with a policy of a first-run movie and vaudeville. Designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager of Chicago (who also designed the Roxy Theatre), the Beacon Theatre opened on December 24, 1929.
Restored Lobby of the Beacon Theatre - New York City (photo: Madison Square Garden Entertainment)  
Lobby  
Beacon Theatre - New York City (photo: Madison Square Garden Entertainment)  
Interior following 2008 Restoration  
Beacon Theatre - New York City (photo: Madison Square Garden Entertainment)

 

 

Valdemar Kjoldgaard murals – West wall  

An article in the March 1930 issue of Moving Picture Review and Theatre Management claims that when Warner Brothers took over the unused theatre, it completely gutted the auditorium and built a new one with Rapp & Rapp as contractors and Stanly C. Zoest in charge of the project. The new 3,154-seat auditorium, described as a mixture of Byzantine and Moorish styles, took six weeks to complete by 200 workers on a day-and-night schedule. Rising to a height of eight stories from ground floor to the dome in the ceiling, the auditorium featured murals along the side walls painted by the famous Danish artist, Valdemar Kjoldgaard. A striking feature is the oval lobby, which is reportedly a one-quarter scale version of the Roxy's grand rotunda.

Later operated by Brandt Theaters, the Beacon continued as a primarily first-run movie theater into the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s Steven Singer and Stephen Metz bought the theatre and presented a series of concerts by the Grateful Dead in 1976. Since that time, the Beacon became home to rock legends like The Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia and the Allman Brothers Band. In 1979, the theatre interior was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and in 1982 was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Then, in 1986, new owners announced plans to transform the Beacon into a cavernous disco with a three-tiered restaurant. Despite opposition by the general community, permission was granted by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, but the alteration never came to fruition.

In 2006, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, a division of Cablevision Systems Corporation, entered into a 20-year lease of the theatre. Beginning in September 2008, the Beacon underwent a six-month, $16-million restoration of the interior under the direction of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects. The Beacon reopened in February 2009.
     
  Console of Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1891 (1928) at the Beacon Theatre - New York City (photo: Diego LaJolla)
Wurlitzer Organ Company
North Tonawanda, N.Y. – Opus 1891 (1928)
Electro-pneumatic action
Style 250 Special
4 manuals, 19 ranks








The Wurlitzer organ in the Beacon Theatre has a factory date of June 6, 1928, and is known as a "250 Special" due to the addition of a Tuba Mirabilis, Solo String Celeste, Horn Diapason, and a second Tibia Clausa to the standard "Style 250" specification. All of the pipes, percussions and mechanism are housed in two chambers above the proscenium, while the white & gold Empire-style console is on its own lift in what has been described as one of the deepest orchestra pits in the city. Sadly, when the theatre was restored in 2008, the orchestra pit was covered by a thrust stage, entombing the organ console below. Hopefully, someday the stage will be reconfigured so that the console can once again be raised to playing position.

This organ is one of only three surviving theatre organs in Manhattan, the other two being those at Radio City Music Hall and "The United Palace" (originally the Loew's 175th Street Theatre).
           
Pedal – 32 notes
    [Blank tab]
4
  Flute
16
  Ophicledie     (Traps 1st/2nd Touch)
16
  Diaphone     Bass Drum
 
  [Blank tab]     Kettle Drum
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)     Snare Drum
16
  Bourdon     Cymbal
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
8
  Great to Pedal
8
  Tuba Horn
8
  Orchestral to Pedal
8
  Octave
8
  Solo to Pedal
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)      
8
  Clarinet     Pedal Second Touch
8
  Saxophone
16
  Diaphone
8
  String      
8
  Cello

  Pedal Pizzicato
8
  Flute
16
  Ophicleide

   

   
Accompaniment (Manual I) –- 61 notes
16
  Contra Viol (TC)     Marimba
16
  Bourdon     Harp
16
  Vox Humana (TC)     Chrysoglott
8
  Tuba Horn     Snare Drum
8
  Diaphonic Diapason     Tamborine
8
  Horn Diapason     Castanets
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)     Chinese Block
8
  Tibia Clausa (M)     Tom-Tom
8
  Clarinet     Sand Block
8
  Saxophone
4
  Octave
    [Blank tab]
8
  Solo to Accomp.
8
  String      
8
  String Celeste     Accompaniment Second Touch
8
  Viol d'Orchestre 
8
  Tuba Horn
8
  Viol Celeste
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)
    [Blank tab]     Cathedral Chime
8
  Oboe Horn     Xylophone
8
  Quintadena     Triangle
8
  Flute
8
  Solo to Accomp.
8
  Vox Humana      
4
  Viol     Accompaniment Pizzicato
4
  Viol Celeste
8
  Solo to Accomp.
4
  Flute      
4
  Vox Humana     10 Double Touch Adjustable Pistons
2 2/3
  Twelfth     Suitable Bass and Release
2
  Piccolo      

   

   
Great (Manual II) – 61 notes
    [Blank tab]
4
  Flute
16
  Ophicleide
2 2/3
  Twelfth (Tiiba S)
16
  Diaphone
2 2/3
  Twelfth (Tibia M)
 
  [Blank tab]
2 2/3
  Twelfth
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)
2
  Piccolo (S)
16
  Clarinet [TC]
2
  Piccolo (M)
16
  Saxophone (TC)
2
  Fifteenth
16
  Contra Viol (TC)
2
  Piccolo
16
  Bourdon
1 3/5
  Tierce
8
  Tuba Mirabilis     Marimba
8
  Trumpet     Harp
8
  Tuba Horn     Orchestra Bells
8
  Diaphonic Diapason     Sleigh Bells
 
  [Blank tab]     Xylophone
8
  Horn Diapason     Glockenspiel
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)     Cathedral Chimes
8
  Tibia Clausa (M)     Chrysoglott
8
  Orchestral Oboe
16
  Sub Octave
8
  Kinura     Unison Off
8
  Clarinet
4
  Octave
8
  Saxophone
8
  Orchestral to Great
 
  [Blank tab]
8
  Solo to Great
8
  String      
8
  String Celeste

  Great Second Touch
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
16
  Ophicleide
8
  Viol Celeste
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)
 
  [Blank tab]
8
  Clarinet
8
  Flute
8
  Solo to Great
8
  Vox Humana      
4
  Clarion     Great Pizzicato
4
  Piccolo (S)
8
  Solo to Great
4
  Piccolo (M)

   
4
  Viol

  10 Double Touch Adjustable Pistons
4
  Viol Celeste

  Suitable Bass and Release

   

   
Orchestral (Manual III) – 61 notes
16
  Ophicleide
4
  Viol
 
  [Blank tab]
4
  Viol Celeste
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)
4
  Flute
16
  Tibia Clausa (M)
2 2/3
  Twelfth (S)
16
  Clarinet (TC)
2 2/3
  Twelfth (M)
16
  Saxophone (TC)
2 2/3
  Twelfth
16
  Contra Viol (TC)
2
  Piccolo (S)
16
  Bourdon
2
  Piccolo (M)
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
2
  Piccolo
8
  Trumpet
1 3/5
  Tierce
8
  Tuba Horn     Marimba
    [Blank tab]

  Harp
8
  Diaphonic Diapason

  Cathedral Chimes
8
  Horn Diapason

  Orchestra Bells
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)

  Sleigh Bells
8
  Tibia Clausa (M)

  Xylophone
8
  Orchestral Oboe

  Glockenspiel
8
  Kinura

  Chrysoglott
8
  Clarinet
8
  Solo to Orchestral
8
  Saxophone

   
    [Blank tab]     Orchestral Second Touch
8
  String
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)
8
  String Celeste
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
 
  [Blank tab]
8
  Trumpet
8
  Flute
8
  Solo to Orchestral
8
  Vox Humana

   
4
  Piccolo (S)

  10 Double Touch Adjustable Pistons
4
  Piccolo (M)

  Suitable Bass and Release

   

   
Solo (Manual IV) – 61 notes
    [Blank tab]     [Blank tab]
16
  Ophicleide
8
  String
16
  Tibia Clausa (S)
  [Blank tab]
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
8
  Oboe Horn
8
  Trumpet
8
  Quintadena
8
  Tuba Horn
4
  Clarion
8
  Diaphonic Diapason
4
  Piccolo (S)
 
  [Blank tab]
4
  Piccolo (M)
8
  Horn Diapason
  Cathedral Chimes
8
  Tibia Clausa (S)

  Xylophone
8
  Tibia Clausa (M)

  Glockenspiel
8
  Orchestral Oboe

  Orchestra Bells
8
  Kinura

   
8
  Clarinet

  10 Double Touch Adjustable Pistons
8
  Saxophone      
           
Tremulants (7)
    Main     Vox Humana
    Solo     Diaphone/Tuba (Horn)
    Tibia (S)     Tuba Mirabilis
    Tibia (M)      
           
General
    Two Balanced Expression Pedals with Indicating Keys
    One Balanced Crescendo Pedal
    Thunder Pedal (Diaphone) – Piano Pedal
    Thunder Pedal (Reed) – Piano Pedal
    One Double Touch Sforzando Pedal – Piano Pedal
     • 1st Touch: Full stops (wind)
     • 2nd Touch: Everything
    One Double Touch Sforzando Pedal – Piano Pedal
     • 1st Touch: Snare Drum
     • 2nd Touch: Bass Drum and Cymbal
           
Effects (operated by pistons)
    Auto Horn   Fire Gong
    Steamboard Whistle   Horse Hoofs
    Two Birds (one in each expression box)    
         
STOP & CHAMBER ANALYSIS
     
Main (left chamber)
16
  Bourdon-Flute
93 pipes
8
  Viol d'Orchestre
85 pipes
8
  Viol Celeste
73 pipes
8
  Horn Diapason
61 pipes
8
  Clarinet
61 pipes
8
  Vox Humana
61 pipes
8
  Tibia Clausa
85 pipes
16
  Diaphonic Diapason
73 pipes
16
  Tuba Horn
85 pipes
    Chrysoglott
37 notes
 
 
Solo (right chamber)
8
  Kinura
61 pipes
8
  Oboe Horn
61 pipes
8
  Solo String
61 pipes
8
  Solo String Celeste
61 pipes
8
  Orchestral Oboe
61 pipes
8
  Brass Saxophone
61 pipes
8
  Brass Trumpet
61 pipes
8
  Quintadena
61 pipes
16
  Tibia Clausa
93 pipes
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
61 pipes
    Cathedral Chimes
25 notes
    Glockenspiel
37 notes
    Xylophone
37 notes
    Tuned Sleigh Bells
25 notes
    Marimba/Harp
49 notes
    All non-tonal traps & effects
     
Sources:
     Beacon Theatre website: http://www.beacontheatrenyc.com
     "Chanins Acquire the Hotel Beacon," The New York Times (Apr. 5, 1930).
     Cinema Treasures website: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/42
     Collins, Glenn. "A Rock 'n' Roll Survivor Prepares for Its Rebirth," The New York Times (Sep. 8, 2008).
     
Dolkart, Andrew S. and Matthew A. Postal. Guide to New York City Landmarks (Third Edition). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2004.
      "Has Airplane Beacon," The New York Times (Sep. 2, 1928).
     Junchen, David L. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 1. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1985.
     Junchen, David L., comp. and ed. by Jeff Weiler. The WurliTzer Pipe Organ – An Illustrated History. Chicago: The American Theatre Organ Society, 2005.
     Kaufmann, Preston J. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 3. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1995.
     McIver, Ian. Specification (Dec. 30, 1972) of Wurlitzer Organ, Op. 1891 (1928).
     Stern, Robert A.M., Gregory Gilmartin, and Thomas Mellins. New York 1930: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars. New York City: Rizzoli International Publications, 1987.

Illustrations:
     AJWB Collection. Console of Wurlitzer organ, Op. 1891 (1928).
     Cinema Treasures web site: Undated photo of old exterior.
     Madison Square Garden Entertainment. Photos of restored interior.
     Wurts Bros. (New York, N.Y.). 1930 photo of Hotel Beacon. From the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.