College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Thomas LeClair is trying to fix a 91-year-old theatre organ he found languishing in the basement of Webster Physical Sciences building on the Pullman campus.
A biology and music double-degree student, LeClair discovered the existence of the instrument while thumbing through old files in the WSU Libraries Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections.
“I was looking up information about the organ I practice on in Bryan Hall, and came across a couple of papers about a different and much older organ in Webster,” LeClair said. “I was like, ‘What? That’s the physics building, they don’t have an organ.’ So, I went to the office in Webster and asked about it, and they told me that, yes, they do in fact have an old theatre organ in the basement.”
In 1927, early Pullman developer P.W. Struppler purchased the organ now in Webster to accompany silent movies at the Spanish Colonial style Cordova Theatre, which opened on Grand Avenue in 1928.
The old pipe organ was donated to WSU in 1961 and installed in the physical sciences building in 1975 at the behest of then-chairman of physics Edward Donaldson for studying musical acoustics.