A couple of years ago, Dave Weesner had a big problem. A 1,500-square foot, 2,600-pipe problem.
In short, he had an organ bigger than his house with no place to put it.
“It’s not like you can just put it in your living room,” he said.
After driving hundreds of miles, a moving truck and more than a year spent rebuilding the largest theater organ in Colorado, Weesner’s problems were solved. On Sunday, his instrument had the walls reverberating in the gym at Immanuel Lutheran Church for a Veterans Day celebration. While he played patriotic songs, the crowd clapped and sang along.
The story of the organ began with Joel Kremer, who was an organist at the Paramount Theater in Denver as well as the son of the founder of the A & L Nut and Bolt Companyin Denver, which was sold in the 1990s.
Weesner said the organ was created from parts of several movie theater organs. As silent films gave way to movies with sound, movie theaters sold off their unneeded organs and Kremer was there to buy whatever he could. Eventually, he amassed more than 2,600 pipes and required 1,500 square feet of space to fit.
Weesner and Kremer, organ enthusiasts, became good friends. When Kremer had to move the organ, Weesner was there to assist. Eventually the organ ended up in a barn on Kremer’s property in Kiowa. The organ barn, could fit the organ and about 200 people. Kremer hosted concerts there until he died and Weesner continued the tradition when he purchased the organ from Kremer’s widow. With the property about to be sold a few years ago, Weesner had the daunting task of trying to find a new home for his massive organ.
That was tough project. When Kremer needed a home for the organ, he built a barn. Weesner didn’t have that option. Most churches, he knew, already had their own organs. Small churches couldn’t fit the organ.
Eventually, he contacted friends at Immanuel Lutheran Church. While they already had a pipe organ in their sanctuary, they welcomed the theater organ into the gymnasium of their former school. They’re hoping to host monthly organ concerts.
“Our focus is to be a community church and to give back to the community as much as we can,” said Rev. Dennis Lucero, senior pastor. “This came together as a marriage of sorts.”
With a location at the church, Weesner started the daunting task of moving the organ. The pipes and other parts took five trips in a 24-foot trailer. The guts of the organ nearly filled the school gymnasium and it took Weesner more than a year to install every pipe and wire.
Along with the traditional organ, he’s also installed a computer system which can record and then replay anything played on the organ.
On Sunday, for the first time, he and the church teamed up for a community concert. They invited local veterans to the gym and played patriotic songs with Weesner at the keys. About 150 people came. At the end of the concert, he played the song of each branch of the military while those veterans stood The crowd cheered, clapped and sang along.
After the concert, Weesner was delighted by the crowd and the sound of the organ which could make even the furthest corners of the gym reverberate with its bass. The gym is about three times the size of the old organ barn and finally, Weesner said, it’s been given the room it needs to let its sounds loose.
Contact Maria St. Louis-Sanchez: 636-0274
Facebook Gazette Maria St. Louis-Sanchez