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Published on Feb 14, 2008
This final tour of Austin Opus 558 was conducted on October 12th, 2000. Just days before the Medinah Temple in Chicago was gutted and turned into a department store. The organ was removed under the supervision of Austin Organs. This instrument is in storage somewhere in Chicago with an uncertain future.
Built by the Shriners architects Huehl and Schmidt in 1912, the Medinah Temple is a colorful Islamic-looking building replete with pointed domes and an example of Moorish Revival architecture. It is located on the Near North Side of Chicago, Illinois at 600 N. Wabash Avenue, extending from Ohio Street to Ontario Street.
The building originally housed an ornate auditorium seating approximately 4,200 on three levels. The stage floor extended a considerable distance into the auditorium, and the seating was arranged in a U-shape around it. The auditorium contained an Austin Organ Company pipe organ (opus no. 558), installed in 1915, with 92 ranks, a 5-manual fixed console and a 4-manual movable console (added in 1931). Among the many events that took place in this venue was the annual Shrine Circus.
The fine acoustics of the Medinah Temple's auditorium made it a favorite site for recording. Many of the Chicago Symphony's most famous recordings for Decca Records from the 1970s and 1980s with music director Georg Solti were recorded there.
Beginning in late 2000 the exterior of the building was restored and the interior gutted and reconstructed for use as retail space. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 27, 2001. It is currently occupied by Bloomingdale's Home and Furniture Store, which opened in 2003.