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Last updated: Wed. Aug. 06, 2014 - 01:09 am EDT

Embassy's historic organ among Foellinger grantees

For the first time in 26 years, the Grande Page Pipe Organ will be leav­ing the building.

The organ, a historic fixture at Embassy Theatre, is in need of renovations.

When to do these has been something theater officials have been looking at for the past five years.

And money was always an issue – until now.

With a $27,000 grant from the Foel­ling­er Foundation, the console of the organ will be loaded onto a truck and shipped to Indianapolis, where a restorer will help repair and fine-tune some technical aspects of the instrument.

“We started exploring this about five years ago,” said Kelly Updike, executive director of the theater, who added that the total project will cost about $68,000.

“It’s always been on our wish list. This (grant) allows us to do it,” she said.

The Foellinger Foundation announced $1.1 million in special grants to various organizations dur­ing a news conference Tuesday.

The grants, which were not part of the usual grants given by the foundation, went to 47 nonprofits that needed equipment or supplies to accomplish their missions.

The Fort Wayne Zoological Society, for example, received a little more than $24,000 for two-way radios.

The Cinema Center was given $16,000 for new seating. The Little River Wetlands was given $48,500 to pay for a new roof, a tractor, a Gator and concrete barn floors.

“You need tools to get your job done,” said Cheryl Taylor, president of the foundation.

The foundation has been focusing its grant money on things that will help organizations be more effective in accomplishing their objectives, she said.

So when the Boys & Girls Clubs want to buy a new van, a paging system and an up­grade for its network, the foun­dation – if it can – will give it money.

The Boys & Girls Clubs received $50,000, it was announced Tuesday.

And if a historic instrument – one that has been around since 1928 and is still used frequently – needs repair, the foundation may be able to help.

So, the Grande Page will be taken out of the theater come October, said Updike.

It will be restored by the same man who restored it in 1988 and will be returned by April or May, just in time for a silent movie series and a tribute show to Buddy Nolan, the organ’s protector and player for many years.

Nolan is also the one who changed the color of the organ from burnished gold to ivory and gold in the 1950s, Updike said.

There was “heated debate” among Embassy officials over changing it back to the original color scheme, but ultimately, the organ was kept as Nolan had made it, which allows lights to dance on its surface.

“That’s part of its history, too,” Updike said.

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