About the Music Hall

During the early days of the 20th century, long before television was invented, theatres played an important role in providing entertainment for the people of our growing country. As silent motion pictures became more popular, and theatres were built larger, a suitable musical instrument was needed to accompany the action on the screen.
The result was the development of the Theatre Pipe Organ, of which Wurlitzer was the leading brand.

Theatre Pipe Organs have amazing resources for playing all types of music. A competent theatre organist can make the organ sound like a symphony orchestra, a marching band, a dance orchestra, or a classical organ. When accompanying silent movies in the 1920’s, the organist also made use of the special movie sound effects that were parts of all theatre organs.

The idea for the Music Hall occurred after the Shanklins acquired the organ console that was originally installed in the Boston Metropolitan Theatre, and all of the other parts, that would be needed to re-create that organ. The Metropolitan organ was the largest Wurlitzer that was ever installed in New England, and a special room would be needed to provide the proper acoustics for it.

The first consideration in designing the building was how to create an authentic “in the theatre” sound in a facility the size of the Music Hall.
The answer was to build a reinforced concrete block auditorium with the proper proportions (42’wide x 80’ long x 36’ high), specifically designed to retain the natural reverberation of the pipe organ. The walls of the auditorium are plastered directly on the concrete block, and the ceiling is constructed of two layers of sheetrock and plaster over plywood, supported by laminated trusses. The rear wall of the auditorium is convex to break up and distribute the sound, and a lobby was built behind the convex wall. Then a 44 seat balcony and a projection booth were constructed over the lobby. Paneled interior walls with maroon and gold trim, and a Florentine patterned carpet all enhance the theatrical feeling of the auditorium.

A show at the Shanklin Music Hall is more than just a listening experience; it is an audio-visual experience as well. As you enter the Hall, you will see the beautiful ivory and gold console prominently displayed on an elevated turntable. You will also see many of the organ’s percussion instruments and all of the movie sound effects mounted on the front wall of the auditorium. These instruments, the two pianos at the front of the room, and the 2400 pipes that are located behind the six sets of black shutters in the front wall of the auditorium, are all played from the organ console. As the program starts, motorized window shades darken the auditorium for the performance. During the concert, the colored lighting, the video projection system, and the incomparable sound of the Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ all combine to take you back to the golden age of the Motion Picture Palace.