Regent Theatre - New York City (Byron Co., 1915, MCNY)
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Regent Theatre

1912 Seventh Ave. at W. 116th St. & St. Nicholas Ave.
New York, N.Y. 10126


Organ Specifications:
• III/12 United States Pipe Organ Company, Op. 61 (1923)
III/19 Austin Organ Company, Op. 426 (1913)


Located in what was then a German-American section of Harlem, the 1800-seat Regent Theatre was architect Thomas W. Lamb’s first large “all picture house” and first opened in February, 1913, with “Pandora’s Box”. Behind the Regent’s Venetian palazzo exterior was a Spanish-Moorish auditorium, decorated in gold, blue and red, with satin wall panels and dark blue carpets. A ceiling mural above the proscenium depicted “The Surrender of Granada”, as envisioned by painter Francisco Pradillo.

Regent Theatre  

Despite its opulence, the Regent Theatre was an almost instant disaster, causing owner Henry Marvin to summon up-and-coming impresario S.L. Rothafel to the rescue. ‘Roxy’s’ innovative taste and showmanship had already helped to save unsuccessful theatres in other parts of the USA, but this was his first chance to prove himself in the “big time”. He closed the Regent Theatre for several months while he changed some of the interior furnishings, installed potted plants, new stage lighting and curtains, and hired a symphony-sized orchestra to play music that was specially arranged to match the movies. When the Regent Theatre re-opened in December with “The Last Days of Pompeii”, the ‘Roxy’-produced programs became the talk of New York, and soon earned him a better offer to take over the direction of the Strand Theatre on Broadway in the midtown theatre district.

But the Regent Theatre continued to flourish and benefited from a take-over by B.S. Moss, who added Keith-Albee vaudeville to support the movies. Due to that connection, the theatre eventually became the RKO Regent, and went through some minor “modernizations” in 1939 and 1944.

The RKO Regent Theatre closed as a movie house in 1963, but was still listed in the 1964 edition of Film Daily Year Book. The Regent Theatre was taken over by an evangelical church, and remains one to this day.

In recent years, the church has tried to restore some of the Regent’s original glory, and it probably looks better than it did under the neglectful RKO regime.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris
           
United States Pipe Organ Company
Crum Lynne, Penn. – Opus 61 (1923)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 12 ranks


Specifications for this organ have not yet been located.
           
  Regent Theatre - New York City (The Moving Picture World, 1913)
Austin Organs Inc.
Hartford, Conn. – Opus 426 (1913)
Electro-pneumatic action
3 manuals, 33 stops, 19 ranks



               
Great Organ (Manual II) – 61 notes, partially enclosed
16
  Bourdon *
61
16
  Tuba Profunda [unit]
85
8
  Open Diapason *
61
8
  Tuba Harmonic
8
  Flauto Major *
61
4
  Tuba Clarion
8
  Dulciana
61
 
Chimes [Mayland]
25 notes
8
  Concert Flute
61
     
4
  Harmonic Flute
61
 
* unenclosed
               
Swell Organ (Manual III) – 61 notes, enclosed

16
  Contre Viole
73
2
  Concert Piccolo
61
8
  Doppel Flute
73
16
  Contra Fagotto
73
8
  Viole d'Orchestre
73
8
  Horn
73
8
  Viole Celeste
73
8
  Vox Humana (special chest)
61
4
  Flauto Traverso
73
  Tremulant

 

     

 

     
Orchestral Organ (Manual I) – 61 notes
8
  Flauto Major
GT
4
  Harmonic Flute
GT
8
  Dulciana
GT
8
  Orchestral Oboe
73
8
  Concert Flute
GT
8
  Clarinet
73
8
  Unda Maris [TC]
61
  Tremulant

 

     

 

     
Pedal Organ – 32 notes
32
  Resultant Bass
8
  Flauto Dolce
GT
16
  Major Bass [ext. GT Flauto]
12
16
  Fagotto
SW
16
  Sub Bass
GT
16
  Tuba Profunda
GT
16
  Viole
SW
8
  Tuba Harmonic
GT
               
Couplers
    Great to Pedal 8'   Great to Great 4'
    Swell to Pedal 8', 4'   Swell to Swell 16', 4'
    Orch. to Pedal 8'   Orch. to Orch. 16', 4'
    Swell to Great 16', 8', 4'   Great Unison Off
    Orch. to Great 16', 8', 4'   Swell Unison Off
    Swell to Orch. 16', 8', 4'   Orch. Unison Off
               
Combinations
   
Great Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Swell Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Orchestral Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 (thumb)
Pedal Pistons No. 1-2-3-4 (toe)
Full Organ Pistons No. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (thumb) [not listed but visible in photo]
               
Accessories
    Balanced Swell Pedal   Sfrozando Pedal
    Balanced Great & Orch. Pedal   Wind Stop
    Crescendo Pedal (adjustable)    
           
Sources:
     Cinema Treasures web site: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6818
     Ochse, Orpha. Austin Organs. Specifications of Austin Organ, Op. 426 (1913): p.147. Richmond: The Organ Historical Society, 2001.
     "Regent Theatre, New York City," The Moving Picture World (Dec. 20, 1913), Vol. 18, No.12: 1401-02.

Photos:
     Byron Company (New York, N.Y.). Exterior and Interior (1915). Museum of the City of New York Collection.
     The Moving Picture World (Dec. 20, 1913), Vol. 18, No.12. Stage showing Austin Organ, Op. 426 (1913).
           
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