Amidst the grandiosity of the Paramount Theatre sits a Mighty Wurlitzer organ, which debuted with the downtown theater’s opening in August 1930. The instrument is one of just two remaining original (and operating) Wurlitzer twin-consoled theater pipe organs in the United States. (Its sister lives in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.) Originally constructed to provide the soundtracks to silent movies—it plays both musical notes and sound effects such as horse hooves and sleigh bells—the organ, which still has most of its original parts, gets plenty of rest today. But if you are lucky enough to hear a few notes, it’s because of Bob Castle, 78, who has been the Paramount’s house organist since 1947. “The theater is not in the business of showing motion pictures anymore,” he says, “but I’m going to play as long as I can.”
Want to hear the organ for yourself? Stop by the Paramount during Doors Open Denver (Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for non-stop, live organ music, theater tours, and demonstrations of how the Mighty Wurlitzer works.