The Arcada Theatre has been a special place for many people throughout the years. It has and still is providing entertainment to the people of the Fox River Valley. The Arcada has been honored and is in the National Register of Historic Places. The Arcada is a gem in the Fox Valley that has been saved from the wrecking ball, as many theatre of its type have fallen. The Arcada will continue to provide a place that in its self entertains and provides a venue to entertain.

I am proud to have been part of the Arcada History. As the “house organist” from 1972 to 1985, I was part of many activities held at the theatre. For many years a group called the “Playmakers” put on productions at the theatre. They were also there for the 50th anniversary of the Arcada in 1976, where they turned back the clock for a special program "Thanks for the Memories."  The organ was used for every performance to supplement the pit band and showcased the organ in the 50th anniversary show, "Thanks for the Memories." A lot of memories have been made at the Arcada.

The year is 1976 and the PlayMaker Production "Thanks For The Memories" The Arcada's 50th Anniversary

and the PlayMakers 25th. The opening number with Les at the console (Right corner).

The Opening Number, "Mention My Name In Saint Charles" , Organ and Chorus..

The Arcada in 1926.. As it looks today..

Here's a better picture of the front of the Arcada before opening day in 1926.

   

 

The following picture is rare as there were not many taken of the auditorium.

Rare in the sense that there are no public pictures of the original Marr & Colton organ console. 

An original photo of the 2nd organ console at the Arcada (Installed 8/1928 By Geneva).

The Arcada Organ was installed in 1926 by the Marr and Colton Organ Company of Warsaw  New York. The original organ was a two manual ten rank instrument with the stationary console in the orchestra pit, almost in the same place as the Geneva Console.  The Geneva Organ Company of Geneva Illinois made two changes: one in 1927 by adding three new ranks and a new chamber to the left of the stage. The second In 1928, just nine months after the first addition, three more ranks were added to the rear of the theatre and a new three manual console, a design by the Theatre owner, Lester Norris, and a lift . The console location was moved to the right side of the orchestra pit and a lift installed. The organ is a 3 manual 16 rank Geneva, Marr and Colton, an original installation, September of 1926 by Marr and Colton, with additions by Geneva 1927 and 1928.

For many years the console was painted white, covering up the "Art" on the sides. During the 90's the theatre was restored and the organ console artwork was brought back. The original color combination was a red and silver.

 

The theatre owner and the designer felt that black and gold was a better choice of color.

I think it works well..

 

The Geneva Organ Company made unusual consoles and will be remember for it. The Arcada is one of those special designs with inlaid glass with cast iron reproductions of the side console art.

One other items this theatre has, the chimes for the organ are not located in the chambers, but are housed in mission windows on the left and right walls. The bells that hang in each arch will swing when the organ tab "Swinging Bells", which is next to the Chimes tab, is depressed.
The console before it was refinished.

When Les left the Arcada in 1985 he contacted his old friend Ron Newman of Aurora Illinois.

Ron took over at the console and plays there today along with Dave Rhodes.

Les and Ron together for a CATOE program in September 1994.

Les returned to the Arcada for the CATOE "Fall Festival 2000", November 19th, 2000.

 


The Arcada Organist Over The Years....

September 1926 --  Walter Stone 

June 1927 --  George Goldquette (Geneva addition 3 ranks and Piano, Left Side)

June 1928  to 1949 -- Howard L Peterson  (Radio Show on WJJD)

(Geneva Console/Lift and Echo (Projection Room Storage) (3 ranks) Installed)

Unknown dates, but the early 50's -- Les Doyle

Organ Silent sometime in the 1950's to 1972

September 1972 to June 1985 --  Les Hickory

June 1985 to Present -- Ron Newman

(Console Refinished) (Electronic Relay Replaced the 2 Original Pneumatic Relay)

2001 - Present -- Dave Rhodes