Long silent, the WKY Kilgen Organ is home again and nearly ready to play

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- The first delivery truck pulled up to the Oklahoma History Center Museum just before business hours on a Friday morning.

There were several that arrived that day, each containing pieces of a giant historical artifact, a musical instrument, an organ that entertained Oklahoma audiences for more than a half-century.

For Dusty Miller, this was a banner day.

"The WKY Kilgen has found a new home," he says proudly.

The organ was first installed in the Skirvin Tower, then later housed at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.

This is the instrument a musician named Ken Wright played on the radio every night for years.

It is one of 4-thousand made by the Kilgen Co. of St. Louis, Missouri.

Fewer than 1-thousand survive.

Miller says, "There are people still around who remember it on the air, or I remember it at the Civic Center."

The Civic Center used it for performances until 1998.

History Center planners thought it might be nice to have it play for events in their new building.

Architects even made room for it, but years of storage and neglect had taken their toll.

The American Organ Institute had to take it apart, fix bent pipes, replace old leather and felt.

John Riester and his crew worked on it for more than a year.

They brought it back good as new.

"We were sitting down a couple of weeks ago," he says. "We took a wild guess as to how many moving parts there are in this instrument. We're guessing about a quarter million or so."

The pieces came home.

Making the WKY Kilgen Organ whole again will require weeks of re-assembly and testing.

This giant artifact still has songs to sing.

Dusty Miller guarantees, "This thing is really, really going to knock your socks off."

The rescued and revived Kilgen already has a performance schedule.

It will officially premiere on January 30th, 2017.

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