June 26, 1967 saw a drastic departure from the usual “Sunday Morning” club organ concerts at the “Riv”. For this concert, the theatre was rented on a weekday evening, a name artist from out-of-town was hired to play, and the Riviera’s doors were opened to the public for the event. The club was barely able to meet expenses-plus, but this concert set the pattern for the many successful monthly concerts, as we know them today. By 1969 these public concerts were heard at the Riviera 12 to 14 times yearly, with frequent use of the organ for special events as well.
During this time the organ itself saw improvements, as well as expansion. The dormant elevator was repaired and once again the console rose in splendor from its pit. Various instruments, and pipes within the organ began to sound forth. A sheet of board found blocking the sound from the pipe loft was removed; why it was placed there, and by whom, remained a mystery.
During the one-year closure of the theatre, however, the monthly organ concerts continued as usual, the theatre being opened for one night a month. Work on the organ also continued. The Wurlitzer organ from the Kensington Theatre in Buffalo was donated to the Riviera Theatre project in 1970, and although that organ had been badly damaged by flood and vandalism, many of the parts of this organ were eventually incorporated into the “Riv” organ. The club purchased a brand new set of Post Horn pipes for the organ, which were playing by the autumn of 1971. New modern electrical relays and switches were purchased by the club to compliment the old existing equipment. This would allow planned expansion of the organ’s original 11 ranks of pipes.
To help finance the Riviera’s secure future, the club made an offer to purchase the Wurlitzer for a substantial amount, along with a provision to have the instrument remain in the theatre. This offer was eventually accepted, the N.F.T.O.S. now owned the organ and at least could assure its future.
Meanwhile, the enlargement and restoration of the Wurlitzer by club members continued. As mentioned, a player piano was acquired and converted to play remotely, from the organ’s console. Additional organ parts and pipes were donated to the Riviera project from Buffalo’s Century Theatre and installed by the work crew. The console itself received a facelift all of the artwork and paint was professionally done by an artist. The stop tablets were rearranged, and many new one were added. Most of this work was done in 1974. By 1975 the organ had grown to 16 ranks of pipes.