Welte Orchestrion at Zaharako's Confectionery
by Rick Inzero (990830 MMDigest)

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I want to thank Tim Trager, who wrote in MMD 990726 about the Mid-Am Organ Rally in Columbus, Indiana:  "This town is home to Zaharakos Confectionery, which is a vintage ice cream parlor that has all its original decor plus its fantastic original Welte Style 3 Orchestrion!"

I missed the organ rally, but was in Columbus the weekend of Aug. 21st, and I stopped in at Zaharako's just to see the orchestrion.  We have relatives in Columbus, but we never knew about Zaharako's or the orchestrion until Tim's post.

I was amazed at the place.  If you've ever seen old black and white photos or postcards of orchestrions in their original locale, this place is still _just_ like that.  It's been open since 1900, and not much has changed, and it's still mostly like new.  It's a luncheonette, with soda fountain with oak fixtures, onyx and Italian marble soda fountain, and mahogany bar.

We were there about 15 minutes before closing, and the last customers (besides ourselves) had just left, so I asked if we could hear the orchestrion.  They said sure, so after we got our ice cream, the owner started it up.  With the high tin ceiling, mirrored walls, and hard floors, I was prepared to plug my ears, but apparently the volume can be adjusted, and it played sweetly without being overpowering to the empty dining room.

I bought a post card that identifies the machine as a "Welte German Concert Pipe Organ 1908", and it was a wonder to behold, towering high over us all.  The wooden trackerbar can be easily seen, as well as much of the mechanism's pull rods controlling all sorts of stuff up above (it looked like a swell shutter door on top), thanks to lots of glass in front.  It played a whole roll which lasted 6 minutes or more, and sounded very nice.

I had only heard band organs play before, never an orchestrion like this.  It was all quite impressive, and well worth a detour if ever you're in the area.

Rick Inzero
Rochester, NY
30 Aug 99 11:25:38 EDT

The soda shop and its Welte Style 3 Cottage Orchestrion are pictured on page 641 in Bowers' Encyclopedia.


24 June 2002