Thousands of tourists stroll the Atlantic City boardwalk each summer, unaware that hidden within the walls of an aging former convention center they pass by, in the shadow of the now-shuttered Trump Plaza casino, lurks perhaps the grandest piece of orchestral equipment ever assembled. With more than 33,000 pipes — 20 to 30 times the number
found in a typical church organ — the organ tucked inside Atlantic City’s original
convention center, Boardwalk Hall, is the largest musical instrument in the world.
Built during the Great Depression, this 150-ton wood-and-metal leviathan was
severely damaged in a 1944 hurricane, beginning a long decline that would eventually silence it entirely. But the mighty Midmer-Losh organ is gearing up to roar
once more, thanks to the efforts of volunteers such as Atlantic City native Billie
Jane Boyer Maul ’57.
Maul, who now lives in nearby Margate, N.J., has early memories of Boardwalk
Hall and its monumental sound system. As a child, she heard the organ at events
like the 1946 Miss America Pageant, and recalls ice-skating in the hall to bubbly
“Organ music is easy to ice skate to — it’s all one-two-three, one-two-three,” she
Billie Jane Boyer Maul ’57
says. “But then it died; there was no organ.”
Seven silent decades later, in June 2014, Maul was retired from her two careers
— teaching and real estate. A state-organized committee had recently embarked
in earnest on a 10-year, $16-million project to restore the Midmer-Losh to its
former glory and begun offering daily tours of Boardwalk Hall. Maul took one and
pulls out all the stops to help make a
mega-Atlantic City landmark roar again.
Photography by Bill Cardoni
By Matt Hughes