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The Wurlitzer Legacy

Researched by Kathleen Snyder 




The Wurlitzer Company:     

In 1853, Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer, a German immigrant, established the Wurlitzer Company in Cincinnati. Originally, the business brought brass, woodwind, and stringed instruments into the US for resale. The primary reason for Wurlitzer's initial success was its defense

contracts, which provided musical instruments to the US military. The business started making pianos in 1880 and eventually relocated to North Tonawanda, New York. 

Wurlitzer eventually expanded, manufacturing band organs, orchestras, player pianos, and pipe or theater organs popular in movie theaters throughout the silent film era. Wurlitzer's reputation for high-quality instruments and innovative designs led to its widespread popularity among musicians and entertainment venues.

Wurlitzer also had a chain of retail stores where their products were for sale. With the advancement of technology, Wurlitzer started producing electronic organs, electric pianos, and jukeboxes. Eventually, the firm gained recognition for its jukeboxes. One example of Wurlitzer's iconic jukeboxes is the Model 1015, produced in the 1940s, which featured colorful lights and chrome accents, becoming a popular fixture in diners and bars across the country. This jukebox is now highly sought after by collectors for its nostalgic appeal and unique design.   

Wurlitzer no longer makes jukeboxes but still sets jukebox parts for maintenance. Wurlitzer currently manufactures vending machines to this day. Despite shifting focus, the company's reputation for quality and innovation remains strong to this day.   The company's legacy continues today, with vintage Wurlitzer instruments highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike.    



The Wurlitzer Building: 

The Wurlitzer Building, with its rich historical background, is currently home to Platter's Chocolate Factory and Wurlitzer Events, among other retail and commercial establishments. Being a unique building with a long history, it is a beloved icon in the Western New York Community. It is believed to be Niagara County's first industrial reuse event facility.   

The building serves as an entrance to Niagara County. The massive tower is a well-known landmark in the area. The North Tonawanda Barrel Organ Factory was the original name of the massive facility. After purchasing it in 1908, the Wurlitzer Company turned it into a factory producing its renowned theatrical organs, creating jobs for approximately 3,000 workers.    

The Wurlitzer Building has been carefully preserved and restored to maintain its original charm and character. Its iconic architecture and historical significance make it a popular destination for events in the area. The building's distinctive features, such as its ornate and grand atrium, provide a stunning backdrop for weddings, corporate events, and community gatherings. With its prime location near Niagara Falls and Buffalo, the Wurlitzer Building continues to attract visitors from all over.  

The building's spacious interior has high ceilings, large windows, and elegant chandeliers, creating a truly unique and memorable setting for any occasion. From intimate gatherings to grand celebrations, the Wurlitzer Building provides a one-of-a-kind venue that is sure to impress guests and create lasting memories. Whether hosting a wedding, gala, or conference, the Wurlitzer Building's timeless beauty and modern amenities make it the perfect choice for any special event. 


The Wurlitzer Flats: 

This one-of-a-kind Neo-Classical building, originally constructed by Edward Kent, has a rich history. Wurlitzer Flats, which are in the center of Buffalo's Theater District, were first constructed in 1895 as the manufacturing and sales room for carriages and harnesses by the A. E. Perron Company.  The Wurlitzer Company transformed it into a showroom, office, and recording studio in the 1930s. Tent City bought the building in 1977 and ran a successful business there for many years. Drew Blum purchased this wonderful piece of Buffalo history in 2020, and it has since been extensively restored and remodeled. After construction was completed in 2023, the building now has two distinct business spaces on the ground floor and four elegant and trendy residences on the top four floors. 




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