Loew's Kings Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Cinema Treasures)
 
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Loew's Kings Theatre

1027 Flatbush Avenue at Tilden Place
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11226



In the late 1920s, the Loew's Theatre chain decided to build a colossal movie palace in each of New York City’s five boroughs. They were built in Brooklyn (Loew's Kings), Queens (Loew's Valencia), the Bronx (Loew's Paradise) and Manhattan (Loew's 175th Street). The fifth theatre was built in nearby Jersey City, N.J. (Loew's Jersey) rather than Staten Island, which had more than its share of deluxe movie palaces and a limited population. These five Loew's theatres were called the "Wonder Theatres" due to their size and atmospheric opulence, although they were not all designed by the same architect and were individual in their design.

The Loew's Kings Theatre opened on September 7, 1929, the same day as its sister theatre in the Bronx, the Loew's Paradise. Designed by Rapp and Rapp, the 3,600-seat auditorium was built diagonally across an odd assortment of lots, rather than parallel to a street. The vast entrance lobby opened onto an even more spacious inner lobby and then on to a foyer at the rear of the orchestra. Most of the seating was in the orchestra level, and there was no balcony but instead a shallow mezzanine that was entered by stairs off the inner lobby. The theatre's opulent interior featured a mammoth dome high above the audience, extensive walnut paneling and carved walnut columns, and deep, rich colors with heavily gilded ornamentation. In the early years, movie features alternated with live acts presented on the fully equipped stage. With the onset of the Depression, the theatre changed to film-only for the rest of its life.
The Kings had a steady decline from the 1950s onwards and managed to last into the mid-1970s before it was forced to close due to poor attendence. The theatre was never divided and remained virtually unchanged throughout its history. Loew's relinquished the theatre in 1977 and basically locked the theatre and left it. Of the five Loew's Wonder Theatres, the Kings is the only one which is not being used in any capacity. Its interior is still majestic despite the ravages of time, vandalism and water damage. Now owned by the Flatbush Redevlopment Corporation, this glorious theatre awaits revitalization.
         
  Loew's Kings Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: Cinema Treasures)
Robert-Morton Organ Co.
Van Nuys, Calif. (1929)
Electro-pneumatic action
4 manuals, 23 ranks



The Loew's chain purchased five identical (except for console decoration) "Wonder Organs" for their deluxe New York area houses: the Paradise Theatre (1929) in the Bronx; the Kings Theatre (1929) in Brooklyn; the Valencia Theatre (1928) in Jamaica, Queens; the Jersey Theatre (1929) in Jersey City, NJ; and the 175th Street Theatre (1930) in Manhattan. The Robert-Morton Organ Company in Van Nuys, CA, built five of the largest-scale theatre organs the company ever produced.  The Solo Chamber pressures were twenty-five inches, the Main Chamber was fifteen inches, and the Voxes were on eleven inches of wind. The consoles of these instruments are so ornate they are sometimes referred to as “Wedding Cake” consoles. 

Console of Robert Morton Organ (1929) at the Loew's Kings Theatre - Brooklyn, N.Y. (photo: David L. Junchen)  
   
In 1974, Loew's donated the Kings' Wonder Morton to the NYC-owned Town Hall in Manhattan. The organ was played for the last time in the Kings on Sunday morning, January 27, 1974, with Lee Erwin at the console and about 200 organ buffs in the audience. The American Theater Organ Society and its Greater New York chapter took care of the Morton's removal, which cost about $15,000, including transportation to storage facilities owned by NYC. Unfortunately, while the organ was under NYC's protection, most if not all of the organ's esssential parts mysteriously "disappeared," and only the console remained. In 1998, the console was sold to Paul and Linda Van Der Molen of Wheaton, IL, who had the console rebuilt and connected to the four-manual, 26-rank theatre organ in their residence.
             
Pedal – 32 notes
32
  Resultant Bass  
8
  Gamba
16
  Tuba Profunda  
8
  Viola Celeste
16
  Oboe Horn  
8
  Violin
16
  Diaphone  
8
  Celeste Violin
16
  Solo Tibia Clausa       Bass Drum
16
  Bourdon       Tympani
16
  Gamba       Cymbal
8
  Tuba Mirabilis       Snare Drums
8
  English Horn        
8
  Oboe Horn       Pedal 2nd Touch
8
  Saxophone       Chimes
8
  Diaphone Diapason       Bass Drum
8
  Horn Diapason       Tympani
8
  Tibia Plena       Cymbal
8
  Solo Tibia Clausa       Crash Cymbal
8
  Flute       Snare Drums
             
Accompaniment (Manual I) – 61 notes
16
  Violin [TC]  
2 2/3
  Twelfth
16
  Celeste Violin [TC]  
2
  Piccolo
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
2
  Fifteenth
8
  English Horn       Harp Marimba
8
  Oboe Horn       Chrysoglott
8
  French Horn       Xylophone
8
  Saxophone       Snare Drums
8
  Diaphonic Diapason       Wood Drums
8
  Horn Diapason       Tom Tom
8
  Solo Tibia Clausa       Tambourine
8
  Foundation Tibia Clausa       Castanets
8
  Flute       Chinese Gong
8
  Gamba  
16
  Accomp.
8
  Viola Celeste  
8
  Accomp.
8
  Salicional  
8
  Great
8
  Concert Violin  
8
  Solo
8
  Celeste Violin        
8
  Kinura       Accomp. 2nd Touch
8
  Clarinet  
8
  Tuba Mirabilis
8
  Foundation Vox Humana  
8
  English Horn
4
  Tuba Mirabilis  
8
  Diaphonic Diapason
4
  Diaphonic Diapason  
8
  Horn Diapason
4
  Solo Tibia Clausa  
8
  Solo Tibia Clausa
4
  Flute  
8
  Foundation Tibia Clausa
4
  Gamba  
4
  Tibia Plena
4
  Viola Celeste       Chimes
4
  Concert Violin       Triangle
4
  Celeste Violin       Bird Whistle
4
  Foundation Vox Humana        
             
Great (Manual II) – 61 notes
16
  Tuba Profunda  
4
  Tuba Mirabilis
16
  Oboe Horn  
4
  Oboe Horn
16
  Saxophone [TC]  
4
  Diaphonic Diapason
16
  Diaphone  
4
  Horn Diapason
16
  Tibia Plena [TC]  
4
  Tibia Plena
16
  Solo Tibia Clausa  
4
  Solo Tibia Clausa
16
  Bourdon  
4
  Foundation Tibia Clausa
16
  Gamba  
4
  Flute
16
  Concert Viol [TC]  
4
  Gamba
16
  Celeste Violin [TC]  
4
  Viola Celeste
16
  Foundation Vox Humana [TC]  
4
  Concert Violin
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
4
  Celeste Violin
8
  English Horn  
4
  Foundation Vox Humana
8
  Oboe Horn  
2 2/3
  Twelfth
8
  Trumpet  
2
  Piccolo
8
  French Horn  
2
  Fifteenth
8
  Saxophone  
1 3/5
  Tierce
8
  Diaphonic Diapason  

  Harp Marimba
8
  Horn Diapason  

  Chrysoglott
8
  Tibia Plena  

  Glockenspiel
8
  Solo Tibia Clausa  

  Orchestra Bells
8
  Foundation Tibia Clausa  

  Xylophone
8
  Flute  

  Chimes
8
  Gamba  
4
  Great
8
  Viola Celeste      
8
  Salicional       Great 2nd Touch
8
  Concert Violin  
16
  Tuba Profunda
8
  Celeste Violin  
16
  Oboe Horn
8
  Kinura  
16
  Diaphone
8
  Clarinet  
16
  Tibia Plena [TC]
8
  Krumet  
16
  Gamba
8
  Foundation Vox Humana  

   

     

   
Orchestral (Manual III) – 61 notes
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
4
  Solo Tibia Clausa
8
  English Horn  
4
  Foundation Tibia Clausa
8
  Oboe Horn  
4
  Flute
8
  Trumpet  
4
  Concert Violin
8
  French Horn  
4
  Celeste Violin
8
  Saxophone  
2
  Piccolo
8
  Diaphonic Diapason  
2
  Violin
8
  Horn Diapason  
 
  Harp Marimba
8
  Solo Tibia Clausa  
 
  Chrysoglott
8
  Flute  
 
  Glockenspiel
8
  Salicional  
 
  Orchestra Bells
8
  Concert Violin  
 
  Xylophone
8
  Celeste Violin  
 
  Chimes
8
  Kinura  
16
  Orch.
8
  Clarinet  
4
  Orch.
8
  Krumet  
8
  Great
4
  Tuba Mirabilis  

   

     

   
Solo (Manual IV) – 61 notes
8
  Tuba Mirabilis  
8
  Kinura
8
  English Horn  
8
  Clarinet
8
  Oboe Horn  
8
  Krumet
8
  Trumpet  
8
  Solo Vox Humana
8
  French Horn  
4
  Tibia Plena
8
  Saxophone  
 
  Harp Marimba
8
  Diaphonic Diapason  
 
  Chrysoglott
8
  Horn Diapason  
 
  Glockenspiel
8
  Tibia Plena  
 
  Orchestra Bells
8
  Solo Tibia Clausa  
 
  Xylophone
8
  Foundation Tibia Clausa  
 
  Chimes
8
  Flute  
16
  Solo
8
  Gamba  
4
  Solo
8
  Viola Celeste  
16
  Great
8
  Concert Violin  
8
  Great
8
  Celeste Violin  
4
  Great

     

   
Tremolos
  Effect Buttons

  Left       Grand Crash

  Tibia Plena       Cymbal

  Foundation Tibia Clausa       Triangle

  Foundation Vox Humana       Bird

  Right       Sleigh Bells

  Right Reeds       Telephone

  Tuba Mirabilis       Door Bell

  English Horn       Steamboat

  Solo Tibia Clausa       Fire Gong

  Solo Vox Humana       Bell Low

          Bell High

           
Stop Key Colors
  Toe Levers
Reeds and diapasons: red   Sforzando: 1st touch stops
Tibias, flutes, strings and couplers: white   2nd touch percussions
Tremolos: black   Surf
Traps: amber   Wind
Tuned percussions: brown   Thunder
      Aeroplane
      Horse Hoof
         
Sources:
     Cinema Treasures web site: http://www.cinematreasures.org
     Garden State Theatre Organ Society web site: http://www.gstos.org
     
Junchen, David. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 2. Pasadena: Showcase Publications, 1989.
     Wheaton Fox Studio web site: http://www.wheatonfox.com

Photos:
     Junchen, David. Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ, Vol. 2: Console.
     Cinema Treasures web site: http://www.cinematreasures.org. Theatre exterior and interior.
         
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