By Howard Kast: Board Member EBPN, Member of the Western Reserve Theater Organ Society, & Former Euclid Beach Park Employee
With article revisions courtesy of Tim Trager
Special to The Carousel News & Trader, Volume 24, Number 10, October 2008
Photo courtesy of Howard Kast. You can see the top of the Artizan organ under the ride at the bottom of the picture.
Gavioli photo used with permission Copyright, Trager: Archives
Euclid Beach was located on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH. The park was a walk-in park (no admission) and one of the finest amusement parks in Ohio. It was located on 72-acres that had lots of shade trees, benches and pavilions so families could bring picnics to enjoy the sights, sounds and wonderful rides.
The Humphrey family that owned the park made sure the park was always family-oriented by not allowing alcoholic beverages or games of chance, which stayed in effect until the park's closing on Sept. 29, 1969. (See Note 1)
The park had four band organs. There was the Style A Artizan 46 keyless Band Organ (shown in the above left small photo), which was the first organ you would hear when entering the park from the parking lot. It was located under the platform of the Rocket Ships that was near the lake. People riding the Rocket Ships had the best of three worlds, listening to the Artizan organ, cooling off on those hot days of summer, and the view of the lake a the three rocket ships soared 50-feet in the air as they whirled around the 101' 5" tower. The Artizan was purchased after the park closed in 1969 by a gentleman who played it for friends until he passed away. It was stored in a garage until just recently when it was purchased by the present owner who has lots of memorabilia from Euclid Beach. It is currently being restored so it will once again play the sounds people enjoyed in the hey-day of the park.
The Artizan was manufactured by the Artizan Factories, Inc. of North Tonawanda, NY. Artizans were well made and were highly regarded for their good musical arrangements and finely voiced pipes. This company which operated during the 1920's, was essentially a regrouping of the former employees of the North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works under the guidance of the Christian Maerten.
Maerten was an innovative designer of band organ mechanisms and designed the pressure pneumatic system with the Artizan organs used. The organs were less mechanically complicated than the vacuum system organs, which required a large vacuum bellows. The pressure system dispensed with the periodic need to clean the tracker bar screen, which was not needed. (See Note 4)
See the patent view to above, used with permission, copyright Trager Archives.
The second band organ you would hear was located on the wonderful Euclid Beach Carrousel, which was near the center of the park. PTC #19 is a magnificent 54-horse machine (See Note 2) with four rows of horses including full-size horses on the outside row. The carousel operated on a 90-foot diameter platform (See Note 3) while at Euclid Beach. PTC #19 was installed in 1910 and had an 87 keyless North Tonawanda band organ that had an unusual sound for a 87 key instrument because, for the 10 years I worked at the park, they used the rolls from the 46 keyless Artizan. I do not ever remember hearing the organ play the 82 key music. I am not a band organ expert and am not sure if they were able to use the tracking bar on the North Tonawanda instrument to play the Artizen style "A" rolls of music which is the music the organ was intended to play. I worked on the Rocket Ships and would hear the same music from the Artizan on the North Tonawanda Organ.
The North Tonawanda organ was sold when the park closed in 1969. It was purchased by Alex Jordon for his House on the Rock attraction. It was never used in the attraction and later sold to John Daniels of California. The instrument was completely rebuild by Mike Argain and remained there until, I believe, 2005 or 2006 when a Vince Aveni from northeast Ohio acquired it for his extensive collection of musical instruments.
Aveni had the instrument completely gone over and voiced for his music room. I was honored to be one of the first to hear the magnificent sounds of the fully restored 87 keyless North Tonawanda organ. The instrument has 293 pipes, bass drum, snare drum, and cymbal. When Aveni turned it on, the sound was magnificent. I realized then that I had never heard the real organ and told my friend with a smile it could not be the same instrument I heard of all those years. The only thing I can say is the public really missed out on the wonderful sounds that the organ could have been giving the riders of the magnificent Euclid Beach Carrousel for all those years. The North Tonawanda band organ is truly one of the finest sounding instruments I have every (sic) heard. The picture below is what it looks like today. (See Note 5)
Euclid Beach also had another 87 keyless North Tonawanda Band Organ that was on the Flying Pony ride which was erected for the summer of 1903 and the new band organ was added in 1909. After the Flying Pony ride was sold, this North Tonawanda Organ went into storage, and then passed through the hands of several owners. The organ was eventually restored by John Hovancak for the Place de la Musique Collection (www.placedelamusique.org) in Barrington Hills, IL.
The North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works incorporated in 1906. It was comprised of many of Eugene DeKleist's top employees, including Frank Morganti, who came with DeKleist from England, and Henry Tussing, the noted music arranger and leader of the North Tonawanda band. Euclid Beach Park was a prime customer having early on purchased two large organs including a Style 1316 "Grand Military Band Organ" for the skating rink. An early North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works catalog featured a glowing testimonial from Euclid Beach Park. Later these organs were replaced by the Gavioli and the two 87 keyless North Tonawandas were purchased by the park. The 87 keyless roll was the spooled version of the earlier 82 keyless endless roll. The rolls were very well arranged for this scale.
Note: The photo here to the left is of the restored North Tonawanda Musical Instrument Works band organ that was on the Euclid Beach Park Carrousel. It is shown here with the restored façade.
As you walked to the far end of the park, you would start hearing the wonderful sounds of the King of Organs, which was in the roller skating rink. The Gavioli had 110 keys and was said to have been built to replicate a 120 piece orchestra. It was 13-feet high and 18-feet long and weighted about 4-tons (actually it still does). The music was produced by books of music rather than rolls like the Artizan and North Tonawanda instruments , and the book music weighed up to 12 pounds each. The books were made of a very heavy type of cardboard with holes in it that produced the music. The Gavioli had 843 pipes and produced extensive ensembles of registrations such as violins, saxophones, piccolos, basses and contra basses, baritone, hooded trumpets, clarinets and percussion which included xylophone, bass drum, cymbal, castanets, triangle, and 22 chimes. The instrument was powered by a 3 HP motor and developed 10-inches of wind pressure. The key frame is operated by a 1/4 HP electric motor via a variable speed belt drive allowing changes in tempo. The organ was installed in the skating rink in 1901 after a very short stay at the Humphrey-owned Elysium Ice Skating Rink.
The organ did not go over very well at the Elysium and was moved to Euclid Beach Roller Rink where it was a huge success. The music was played at a slower tempo than written to keep the skaters from going too fast. It played there until 1962 when the skating rink was closed and an Antique Car ride was installed in the rink. The organ played only occasionally when the ride was operating, but then it went silent and remained in the rink (ride) until the park closed in 1969.
The organ is now in the Chicago area in a warehouse. At one time the present owner said he was going to rebuild is so it could be heard once more, but, as with the Artizen that sat silent for so many years, The Gavioli is just sitting there waiting the day that it's wonderful sounds will be heard again. It is a shame that such a wonderful instrument may possibly never be played again for people to enjoy the sounds of the bygone era.
Note 1: The park closed September 28, 1969
Note 2: At installation PTC #19 had 58-horses
Note 3: The platform was 50-foot, the diameter of the carrousel building was 90- foot.
Note 4: The Style A Artizan 46 keyless Band Organ is owned by The Euclid Beach Boys and can be seen at their Event Center and Museum.
Note 5: Vince Aveni passed away in 2006. When Mr. Aveni's family heard about the project to return the Euclid Beach Park Carousel to operation the family decided to loan the band organ to Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park Carousel Society. An alcove was included in the construction of the 6,000 square foot, glass, carousel pavilion at the Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society specifically for the band organ.
Euclid Beach Park had other band organs during its 74 year operation. Little is known about the band organ installed with the park's first carousel in 1896 except that it was built at a cost of approximately $2,000.00. This significant investment by the park's first owners was an indication of how much they valued the music from the band organ as an entertainment attraction.
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This article appeared in The Arch, Euclid Beach Park Now's Quarterly Newsletter Volume 17, Issue 1, Fall 2005