4/16 Kilgen - Oklahoma History Center
Built in 1935 by George Kilgen & Sons of St. Louis, Missouri, the organ was installed the following year in the new WKY studios in the Skirvin Tower Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.
When WKY moved its studios to a new building in 1951, the organ did not make the move; it was sold to the City of Oklahoma City, and was housed in the Municipal Auditorium downtown.
It sat unused in its downtown location until businessman and organ enthusiast Greg Robertson approached Dr. Bob Blackburn, OHS’s executive director, who agreed that such a significant piece of Oklahoma and musical history should be housed in the society’s new center.
At Dr. Blackburn's request, the city agreed to donate the organ. Steve Hawkins, Oklahoma History Center’s marketing director, says, “The importance of the Kilgen being heard again is based in history – not to mention the rarity of the instrument. There were 2,500 manufactured, and only 4 are known to be in existence.”
American Organ Institute Associate Director Jeremy Wance adds, “Thanks to the vision and resolve and generosity of several key individuals, we’ve been able to save a piece of Oklahoma’s history from going to the trash heap – and what’s more, we’ve put it in the center of the building dedicated to preserving our history.”