Who We Are
The Manasota Theatre Organ Society (MTOS) is a chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. We are theatre pipe-organ enthusiasts who live in central and southwest Florida. Our growing-membership is made up of people from all walks and demographic, some of whom have never seen these magnificent instruments in action before. We hold three musical shows per year in January, February, and March. Each of which features a world-renown artist performing tunes from numerous musical genres.
The aim of our organization is to promote and showcase theatre pipe-organs in an authentic and historical form, and in the manner in which it was used to accompany motion pictures in the silent film era.
Preservation of the Theatre Pipe Organ art-form is our first goal. But it’s just as important to share this experience with as wide an audience as possible. It must be heard to be believed. And while there are many restored theatre pipe organs around the world, there are only three others like this one. We invite you to come see and hear this million-dollar wonder, and the artists who make it sing.
What We Do
Our Show-Season is January through March. Doors open at 2:00 PM. Shows start at 2:30.
Specific dates will be posted on the front-page of this website, along with more information about the performers.
The MTOS Story
The Manasota Theatre Organ Society (MTOS) was founded in November, 1991. The first project was the renovation of the 1926 Aeolian Duo Art pipe organ in the Charles Ringling mansion, now part of the University of South Florida New College in Sarasota. This residence pipe organ was not in playable condition when the Chapter approached USF and proposed renovation of the instrument. An agreement was reached whereby the Chapter would restore the organ to its original condition in exchange for occasional use by MTOS meetings. After several thousand hours of volunteer labor, the organ finally “spoke” again.
The Chapter met there once a year for several years, to the delight of our members who enjoyed hearing and playing this orchestral organ. Sadly, it has not been possible for MTOS to maintain the organ and it has declined a bit over the years.
In 1995, member J. Tyson Forker said he wanted to see a theatre organ installed in a public venue in the Sarasota area. He said he would supply the necessary funds needed if MTOS members would do the work needed to rebuild and install such an instrument.
In 1996, MTOS found a Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in a warehouse in Miami, Florida. The instrument was originally installed in the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1927. On a couple of hot August weekends, members convoyed to Miami with a rental truck and removed the organ, piece by piece and hauled it back to a warehouse in Sarasota. The organ was completely disassembled and rebuilt by MTOS members.
The Chapter reached an agreement with the Grace Baptist Church on Bee Ridge Road whereby MTOS would add ranks suitable for church use and install the organ in their existing pipe chambers. The organ was expanded to 32 ranks. The church would use the instrument for their services and for classical and religious concerts, while MTOS members would hold meetings there and would present theatre organ concerts there. Provision was made for practice time for members and for artists preparing to perform.
Throughout the project, daughter of Tyson Forker, Carole Scutt continued to supply financing after Mr. Forker’s death in 1997.
With Allen Miller’s tonal design, the organ has turned out to be a world-class instrument!
Would you like to join MTOS?
Visit our membership page and read more about our organization. Or click the button to download an application directly. A ‘Friends of MTOS’ membership is only $25 per year!