Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall
Atlantic City, N.J.
The Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City is equipped with a magnificent pipe organ, installed in two chambers behind the grill-work on either side of the proscenium. The console is located in the musician’s balcony (house right). The Ballroom is a venue of gigantic size, 181 feet long, 128 feet wide, and 75 feet high. It seats 5,000 people (including the rear balcony). Thus, it is actually larger than Radio City Music Hall, and nearly twice the size of the Symphony Hall at Lincoln Center.
Originally envisioned to provide the soundtrack for silent movies, the Kimball organ, Opus KPO 7073, can provide a wide variety of musical styles and genres and can conjure up every imaginable effect from the singing of birds to an entire symphony orchestra. There are 55 ranks of pipes in this instrument controlled from a four-manual console.
It was the intention of Mr. Lincoln Dickey, the first manager of Boardwalk Hall, to use this room as a dance hall and also as a motion picture theatre. Therefore, he wanted a unit orchestra – a theatre organ. Senator Emerson Richards, who designed the organ, was unwilling to outfit the instrument for the limited purpose of accompanying films, (something that sound pictures were soon to displace) and therefore designed an all-purpose organ that would also have the foundation of a classical instrument.
Installed in 1930, the 86-year-old instrument is playable again, after having been silent since the late 1990’s. About $250,000 has been spent on restoring the organ, which has suffered from years of neglect and mistreatment. Much of the damage took place while Boardwalk Hall was undergoing a $90 million restoration project in 2000 and 2001 that turned it into the concert and sports arena it is today. Among the organ improvements: the console has been totally refurbished, a modern electronic relay installed, and the blower restored.