Moving the Wonder Morton – Chicago to Jersey City

Experience the sound of the Theatre Pipe Organ

In 1997, GSTOS founder Bob Balfour located the Wonder Morton organ that had originally been installed in the Loew’s Paradise Theatre, Bronx N.Y. It was stored in a warehouse outside of Chicago. He brokered a deal with the owner to obtain the instrument, paying part of the cost out of his own pocket, and offering the owner a charitable deduction from GSTOS for the rest of the agreed value. He later turned his cash contribution to the transaction into a charitable donation to GSTOS as well.

So now GSTOS had a donated instrument for installation at Loew’s Jersey, but there was concern about the cost of shipping the organ from Chicago to Jersey City.

Bruce Pearson, owner of ABC Movers, a National Van Lines Chicago based moving company agent and my close personal friend was approached by me and asked what it would cost to move the organ to Jersey City. I also asked if any of his vans ever returned to New Jersey empty. He said yes, they frequently returned empty.

Bruce had a local estimator examine the organ at the warehouse and estimated that it would require a 50 foot trailer, and at least two men for loading, at a cost of 15 to 20 thousand dollars. He asked me if this move was for me. I told him that it was for my fellow GSTOS members as well as myself.  His response was “no charge”!

 

 

Suburban Fork lift on left preparing to lift the Wonder Morton blower at
the back of the ABC Moving Van as Bob Balfour looks on,
Loew’s Jersey Theatre, July 26, 1997

 

 

 

 

 

Raising the organ pipes chests and other parts to the outside chamber doors at a three story level in the back of the Loews theatre was another problem that needed to be addressed.

Back then my wife Sheila and I were playing dinner music at an upscale restaurant on weekends. One of the dinner customers who loved our music was the owner of Prospect Park, N.J. based Suburban Fork Lift Inc.   I asked him if he had a heavy duty fork lift that could reach up three stories.  He replied that he did, and like Bruce,  he asked if the lift was for me. He said his cost estimate for bringing the fork lift on a flatbed truck, with driver and lift operator would be three to five thousand dollars depending on time involved.  When I explained that it was for my fellow GSTOS members and me, he also responded “no charge”!

The total savings for GSTOS was approximately twenty five thousand dollars.

The free moving van loaded with the free Wonder Morton, and the truck with free fork lift arrived at Loew’s Jersey for unloading by volunteers from GSTOS and Friends of the Loew’s on July 26, 1997. The rest is history.

 Sy Mendel