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Shea's receives $20,000 grant to restore Mighty Wurlitzer Organ

Shea's received a $20,000 grant that will help the organization reach its goal of restoring the organ by the theater's 100th anniversary in 2026.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Shea's Performing Arts Center has one of the largest Mighty Wurlitzer organs in the country, but it is in need of restoration. 

To help restore this almost 100 year old organ, The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo has awarded Shea's a $20,000 grant. This will help Shea's work toward its goal of completely restoring the organ by the Buffalo theater's 100th anniversary in 2026.

“The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ in Shea’s Buffalo Theatre is often regarded by experts as one of the finest theater organs in the country,” said John Schaller, Director of Development at Shea’s. “Its deeply lush and seemingly limitless tones have delighted patrons and organ enthusiasts for close to 96 years.

"And we are so grateful for the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo for recognizing and understanding the importance of restoring and maintaining such a rich piece of pride and history that exists within these walls at Shea’s Buffalo Theatre.” 

The restoration work will repair four high-pressure regulators, the foundation chamber and the brass chamber.

Mighty Wurlitzer organs are well-known all over the United States. Shea's was installed back in 1925, before the theater opened in 1926.  

“I cannot emphasize to you in any stronger terms the ‘Gold Standard’ of theatre pipe organ that sits in those chambers at Shea’s Buffalo. It is not simple hyperbole, but fact. If one were ranking or awarding top honors for the finest sounding theatre organ in the world, Shea’s Buffalo could be arguably Number One, and most certainly Top Three.

"The Wurlitzer factory employees installed this organ, and the resulting sound is so incredibly and breathtakingly spectacular, if someone argued to me that Shea’s is Number One, I would not put up a fuss,” said Ken Double, American Theatre Organ Society.