The Phantom Plays—Birmingham, Alabama
The 2,500 seat Alabama Theater was built in Birmingham, Alabama in 1927 by Paramount Studios to sell tickets to its motion picture films, all silent at the time. During its fifty-five year reign, the projection booth rolled through the movie reels of silent films, black and white talkies and finally wide screen color blockbusters such as Ben Hur. Built during the silent move era, an ornate Mighty Wurliter pipe organ, one of only twenty-five ever built, was used to provide appropriate music for each movie scene. The organ saved the theater from being turned into a parking lot in 1987 when the Alabama Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society attempted to buy the organ. The owners refused to sell only the organ, so the non-profit organization, Birmingham Landmarks, Inc, was created to purchase the building, and the Mighty Wurlitzer.
Events continue to be held at the Alabama Theater, including the showing of old movies—even the silent ones with the Mighty Wurliter providing the mood.